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National Geographic Channel Survey Timed to the World Premiere Miniseries Event THE '80s: THE DECADE THAT MADE US Finds That Americans Think (Almost) Everything Was Better in the '80s – From Government and Safety to Music and TV Shows (Just NOT Fashion!)
The Three-Night, Six-Part Event Narrated by Rob Lowe Premieres Sunday, April 14, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Geographic Channel (NGC) and Kelton Research today released the results of a new survey gauging Americans' affection for the 1980s, even if they didn't live through them. The survey is timed to the global premiere of The '80s: The Decade That Made Us, a three-night, six-part event narrated by Rob Lowe on Sunday, April 14, at 8 p.m. ET/PT (www.natgeotv.com/the80s, twitter.com/NGC_PR).
Despite its reputation for bad hair and loud clothing, just about everything about the era — from the politics, leaders and safety to the music, TV shows and blockbuster movies — are seen as being better than they are today. In fact, 3 in 4 Americans (74%) thought that our country was better off then and even safer (76%). The same amount (76%) believe that government ran better in the 1980s than it does today. And if a presidential election were held today, 58 percent would vote for Ronald Reagan over Barack Obama. Americans ages 18 to 34 were evenly split, with 51 percent favoring Reagan and 49 percent Obama.
At least 4 in 10 Americans believe that movies (42%), TV shows (52%) and music (71%) were better in the '80s than they are now. And nearly two-thirds (65%) of adults 18 to 34 and a whopping 88 percent of recent college grads who responded to the survey and didn't live through the '80s said that they wished they had been around for the tubular times!
"America pining for the 1980s is no surprise because we still remain a 1980s nation," said author David Sirota, author of "Back to Our Future," and a pundit featured in the miniseries. "From popular culture to politics, we are still telling ourselves the same stories and still creating the same mythologies that we first developed in the 1980s. In that sense, there is more than just typical nostalgia at work — there is a recognition that in both good and bad ways, America is still stuck in the 1980s."
Here's a hair-raising breakdown of all things '80s:
Seminal moment of the decade
- Most people listed the fall of the Berlin Wall (37%) as the moment that defined the decade, followed by the identification of AIDS (24%) and the Challenger explosion (17%). Music and TV moments followed, with the premiere of MTV (12%) and the "Miracle on Ice" U.S. over Russia Olympic hockey win (7%).
- Close to half of the nation (46%) believes that the naming of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court was a more important '80s milestone for women than Sally Ride going to space (36%) or Geraldine Ferraro running for vice president (18%).
Tech inventions we couldn't live without
- More than half (56%) of the nation thinks that the personal computer has had the biggest impact on our lives today, with the cell phone coming in at just 27 percent. The microwave (5%), Walkman (4%) and VCR (4%) apparently wouldn't be missed as much by Americans.
- While still over a third of the country (33%) feels that the '80s were a better time for fashion than today, these items people begged never to make a comeback: shoulder pads (83%), parachute pants (79%), fanny packs (68%) and neon clothing (67%).
- The one item that most Americans would be comfortable with a resurgence of is leg warmers, with 51 percent of the nation ready to bring them back.
Beloved games and toys
- It was a dead heat battle between Cabbage Patch Kids (25%) and the Rubik's Cube (25%) as the best toy or doll of the decade. Also on the list were Transformers (18%); Care Bears (9%); He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (6%); and My Little Pony, Teddy Ruxpin and Pound Puppies (all tied at 4%).
- Forget Xbox, the favorite video game in the '80s was Pac-Man (38%), followed closely by Super Mario Brothers (33%). Tetris (8%), Donkey Kong (8%), The Legend of Zelda (7%) and Frogger (3%) just couldn't compete.
On the big screen
- We still love the DeLorean, as 21 percent of Americans named "Back to the Future" as the most defining movie of the decade, followed closely by "The Breakfast Club" (18%), "E.T." (16%) and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (15%).
- "No one puts Baby in the corner" when it comes to best '80s movie couple, with Johnny and Baby from "Dirty Dancing" taking the prize at 44 percent.
- Demi Moore (28%) is America's favorite member of the "The Brat Pack," over other actors such as Molly Ringwald (19%), Rob Lowe (15%) and Judd Nelson (6%), who frequently appeared together in teen-oriented films.
Dance moves of the '80s
- More than half of Americans (53%) say that they are able to do at least one dance move from this decade, with the Robot (53%), Moonwalk (49%) and Running Man (44%) topping the list.
- More men than women say that they can do the Moonwalk (56% vs. 42%).
- More women than men claim that they can do the Running Man (48% vs. 40%) and the Cabbage Patch (34% vs. 22%).
- And for those ages 60 and older who responded to the survey, 14 percent say that they can still do the Moonwalk, 13 percent can do the Robot and 7 percent can do the MC Hammer.
Icons of the decade
- Forty-five percent of Americans think that Princess Diana's death had the biggest impact on the world, compared with other late '80s icons' deaths such as Michael Jackson (29%), Steve Jobs (21%) and Whitney Houston (3%).
- Sixty-one percent of Americans named Michael Jackson as the musical act from the '80s with the greatest influence on today's musicians. Far fewer say the same about Madonna (17%) or U2 (12%).
- Reese's Pieces were named the favorite '80s candy by 40 percent of Americans, followed by Twizzlers (20%), Pop Rocks (19%), Nerds (12%) and Good 'n Fruity (6%).
- More men prefer Reese's Pieces (45% vs. 34%) while women prefer Twizzlers (24% vs. 16%) and Pop Rocks (24% vs. 14%).
The survey of more than 1,000 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older was conducted online from March 13 to 19, 2013, with a 3.1 percent margin of error.
The '80s: The Decade That Made Us is the defining biography of a decade, a cultural programming event uncovering the real turning points and never-before-told moments that reveal the true Technicolor stories behind this bright and boisterous time. The epic and rollicking roller coaster ride is told through original interviews of history-making music and film superstars as well as titans of technology, business, media and politics; unforgettable archival footage; exclusive eyewitness accounts; and dramatic re-enactments that capture these iconic moments in time.
The '80s: The Decade That Made Us is produced by Nutopia for the National Geographic Channel. For Nutopia, Jane Root and Peter Lovering are executive producers; Fred Hepburn is series producer. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Brooke Runnette, vice president of production and development is Lynn Sadofsky, executive vice president of programming is Michael Cascio and president is Howard T. Owens.
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SOURCE National Geographic Channel