Following up on Kottke’s list of culturally relevant movies that came out in 1984, and Fimoculous’ list of culturally relevant albums that came out in 1984, I thought I’d find the culturally relevant list of books that came out in 1984. Using the best selling books as a barometer, you get the following list. Which seems kind of meh, no?
1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum
3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
5. The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss
8. Full Circle, Danielle Steel
9. Life & Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Joan Rivers
10. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
1. Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
4. Pieces of My Mind, Andy Rooney
5. Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook
6. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School…, Mark H. McCormack
7. Women Coming of Age, J. Fonda & M. McCarthy
10. Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook
But you may also be interested in the NY TimesEditor’s Choice: Best books of 1984. Interestingly, neither of these lists have “Bright Lights, Big City”, “The Hunt for Red October”, or “Neuromancer”.
And then I fell completely into the rabbit hole of determining 1984’s status of one of the more culturally relevant years ever. On the stage, David Mamet won a Pulitzer for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, and Glen Close all won Tony Awards. Doug Flutie won the Heisman, Desmond Tutu won a Nobel Peace Prize, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and John Stockton were drafted.
Of course, don’t take my word for it, Bill Simmons has 84 reasons 1984 was a good year including his covering of:
27. NBC’s Thursday night lineup: “Cosby,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” “Night Court”…and “Hill Street Blues.” Just a murderer’s row…
28. “Miami Vice,” Season One…
29. “Growing Pains” and “Charles in Charge” both launched. So did the underrated sitcom “It’s Your Move” with Jason Bateman, who should have been one of the five biggest stars of that decade…
35. During the 25th anniversary Motown show in February, Michael Jackson performed “Billie Jean” and unveiled the moonwalk…
42. Also, MTV launched the Video Music Awards that fall — and if you don’t remember Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress at Radio City Music Hall, you obviously weren’t a horny teenager in ’84.
44. If that wasn’t enough, ’80s college music took off — that Cure-Smiths-REM-Depeche Mode-New Order sound that holds up to this day…
48. Come on, tell me you didn’t like these songs: “99 Luftballoons”…”Darling Nikki”…”Cruel Summer”…”Yah Mo Be There”…”Sister Christian”…”Sunglasses at Night”…”Relax”…”Head over Heels”…”Pride (In the Name of Love)”…”Caribbean Queen”…”Panama”…”Billie Jean”…”Hot for Teacher”…”Somebody’s Watching Me”…”Boys of Summer”…”Jungle Love”…”Missing You.”…(Note: Chuck Klosterman is having a heart attack right now.)
49. Run DMC became the first rap act to produce a gold record. It’s true.
51. That’s right, this was the holiday season when Band Aid came out with “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.
58. “Splash” and “Bachelor Party” — Tom Hanks makes The Leap.
(And speaking of leaps, how ’bout Larry B. Scott appearing as the gay frat brother in “Revenge of the Nerds,” then the only black member of Cobra Kai in the same year!.)
65. Not only did the porn industry shift completely to video, but Traci Lords, Christy Canyon AND Ginger Lynn made their X-rated debuts in ’84….
Pop Culture and Other Stuff
72. …this was the year of “What’s my beef?” — both the Wendy’s commercial and Leno’s bit on Letterman’s show.
75. The Supreme Court made it legal to tape shows with a VCR.
82. By the way, the final list of “People and things in their absolute primes in ’84”: Bird, Bernard, Montana, McEnroe, Gretzky, Sam Malone, Hulk Hogan, Letterman, Sonny Crockett, Jason Bateman, Springsteen, Prince, U2, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Robert Smith, Kathleen Turner, Shannon Tweed, Billy Zabka, Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ronald Reagan, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Paulina Porizkova, the Cold War.
83. Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.
So there you have it. What year compares?