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A2 1980s De Zwaan

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on June 14, 2010 at 7:54:13 pm

Katherine Mullan

Evan Chen

Brendan Tsai

Kevin Moskowitz

Sebastian Achterberg 

Life in the 1980's  

MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?





Business & the Economy - Kevin


     The economy of the 1980s started out on a bad note, with interest rates at a record high 20 percent in 1980. Oil prices peaked at over $1.40 per gallon in 1981. Even with Ronald Reagan in the White House, things were not looking up. By the mid-80s, imports were at an all-time high, far surpassing American exports, hurting the U.S. trade balance and crippling the overall value of items in the U.S.

The American automobile industry started to suffer greatly with the oil crisis in the late 70's and early 80's. The big three only had one or two platforms on which they based their cars. This posed a problem when they had to build smaller cars that could be competitive with the increasing number of imports. For example, The best selling car in America in 1981 was the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, a large, V8 powered sedan, with limousine-like proportions. By 1983, the tiny, lightweight, European-designed Ford Escort, weighing in at almost half of a Cutlass V8, grabbed the top spot, although it actually sold considerably less, due to the tanking economy.

     Unfortunately for General Motors and Chrysler, executives at the top ignored the demand for cheap, small cars. The demand for imports such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla seriously cut into the once American exclusive market, starting a trend that is still continuing today. By the late 80's, the new and revolutionary Ford Taurus now had to combat (for the very first time) an import for the best seller slot, the Honda Accord.

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     Another example of the down economy was in the housing market. Cost cutting and poor planning made for poorly made homes, that today have a lower value than comparable homes built in the 60's and 90's. It would not be until the very late 80's until the economy picked up enough for better materials and more experienced contractors could be used for the average family.


Education- K



Fashion - K

   During the 1980's there  were a variety of things that made there way to the top of the fashsion list. One of the most  pieces of clothing for men and women alike were the shoulder pads.


Food &  Drink - S


American families had more disposable income...

Print Culture-Evan


     The daily general-interest newspaper, USA Today, first hit newsstands in 1982. It was mocked for its short articles and generalness. Overtime it became popular and changed the entire newspaper industry. Many of USA Today’s approaches to journalism have become standard practice in the newspaper industry. The magazine, Discover, was introduced in October 1980 by Time Inc. and was sold to Family Media in 1987. Its purpose was to give scientific knowledge to nonprofessionals in a way that is easy to read and understand.



Top 3 bestselling fiction books in the 80s:

1980    1. The Covenant, James A. Michener 2. The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum 3. Rage of Angels, Sidney Sheldon

1981    1. Noble House, James Clavell 2. The Hotel New Hampshire, John Irving 3. Cujo, Stephen King
1982    1. E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial Storybook, W. Kotzwinkle 2. Space, James A. Michener 3. The Parsifal Mosaic, Robert Ludlum
1983    1. Return of the Jedi Storybook, J. Vinge 2. Poland, James A. Michener 3. Pet Sematary, Stephen King
1984    1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub 2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum 3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
1985     1. The Mammoth Hunters, Jean M. Auel 2. Texas, James A. Michener 3. Lake Wobegon Days, Garrison Keillor
1986    1. It, Stephen King 2. Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy 3. Whirlwind, James Clavell
1987     1. The Tommyknockers, Stephen King 2. Patriot Games, Tom Clancy 3. Kaleidoscope, Danielle Steel
1988     1. The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Tom Clancy 2. The Sands of Time, Sidney Sheldon 3. Zoya, Danielle Steel
1989    1. Clear and Present Danger, Tom Clancy 2. The Dark Half, Stephen King 3. Daddy, Danielle Steel 



     Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Tom Clancy, and Robert Ludlum are just a few of the many great authors during this decade. Stephen King is an author who writes contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy fiction. He also wrote many stories under his pen name, Richard Bachman. Danielle Steel is a romantic novelist who is best known for her drama novels. As of 2005, Steel has sold more than 580 million copies of her books worldwide and is the seventh best selling writer of all time. In 1981, she began a near-permanent fixture on the New York Times bestseller list and was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times Bestseller List for the most consecutive weeks of any author (381 consecutive weeks). Tom Clancy is best known for his writings of espionage, crime fiction, and military science. His works include The Hunt for Red October (1981), Red Storm Rising (1986), Patriot games (1987), The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988), and Clear and Present Danger (1989). Lastly, Robert Ludlum wrote thriller, mystery, and spy fiction stories. He wrote under two pen names, Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shephard. In 1980, 1986, and 1990, he wrote the Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum, respectively.



Sports &  Games-Evan


     In 1981, the Japanese game "Puck-man" was introduced to the American public as Pac-man and was an instant success. The game was a big hit and it dominated the gaming industry. All sorts of memorabilia also appeared such as playing cards, soft toys, breakfast cereal, and pasta. Pacman was named "Game of the Century" at Classic Gaming Expo '99.




Though the Rubik's Cube was createc by an english cult in the 1960s, its popularity rose in the 1980s It inspired clubs, books, newspapers, and even Saturday Morning Cartoons. The Ideal Toy Company began marketing cubes in the 80s. Between 1980 and 1982, an estimated one hundred million Rubik's Cube were sold worldwide.


With the release of the Star Wars Trilogy being a big success, Star Wars Action Figures began appearing and soon became popular for young children.



Another popular toy line was the Transformers which was also a very popular TV show.




  Sports of the 80's


The Olympics in this decade were peculiar in comparison to a typical Olympics event. In 1980, the United States and many other ally nations boycotted the Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In response, the Soviet Union and its allies boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.




     The 80s were the decade with the up and coming NBA Star Michael Jordan. In this decade, Michael Jackson played for UNC (University of North Carolina) and though he did not make the team in his freshman year, he showed his clutch strength over the next years. Because UNC was known for its great players, no one payed much attention to MJ because there were other fantastic players. It wasn't until UNC played Georgetown in the NCAA Championships and MJ making a 20-foot jumper for the win. But it was not until the 90s that MJ and the Chicago Bulls ruled the NBA.

     In the NBA during the 80s, basketball was ruled by legendary players Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Some famous basketball players from Detroit were Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. The LA Lakers pretty much dominated the 80s with championship wins in '80, '82, '85, '87, '88, but the Boston Celtics were not too shabby with championship wins in '81, '84, '86.


NBA: LA Lakers over Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2
NCAA: U of Louisville over UCLA, 59 to 54

NBA: Boston Celtics over Houston Rockets, 4-2
NCAA: Indiana over North Carolina, 63 to 50

NBA: LA Lakers over Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2
NCAA: North Carolina over Georgetown, 63 to 62

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers over LA Lakers, 4-0
NCAA: NC State over U. of Houston, 54 to 52

NBA: Boston Celtics over LA Lakers, 4-3
NCAA: Georgetown over Houston, 84 to 75


NBA: LA Lakers over Boston Celtics, 4-2
NCAA: Villanova over Georgetown, 66 to 64

NBA: Boston Celtics over Houston Rockets, 4-2
NCAA: Louisville over Duke, 72 to 69

NBA: LA Lakers over Boston Celtics, 4-2
NCAA: Indiana over Syracuse, 74 to 73

NBA: LA Lakers over Detroit Pistons, 4-3
NCAA: Kansas over Oklahoma, 83 to 79

NBA: Detroit Pistons over LA Lakers, 4-0
NCAA: Michigan over Seton Hall, 80 to 79





The 1980s also had many famous football stars including Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and Jerry Rice. In particular, Jerry Rice, the record breaking and setting football player,had a great success. He has the most career catches in NFL history and counting. One most also not forget the memorable moments from people like Walter Payton. The San Francisco 49ers dominated the decade by winning the Super Bowl in '82, '85, and again in '89.





In tennis and for the ATP tour, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe brought media attention wherever they went. Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf had the attention for the WTA tour.




In the 80s, there was the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, and the International Boxing Federation. These three organizations were competing to see which champion they produced was the actual heavyweight champion. Below are the winners from the various championships:

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Mike "Hercules" Weaver knocked out John Tate in the 15th round.

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Larry Holmes retains his title in a three-round bout against Leon Spinks.

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Michael Dokes knocked out Mike Deaver in the first round.

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Gerrie Coatzee knocked out Michael Dokes in ten rounds.

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Greg Page knocked out Gerrie Coetzee in the 8th round.
WBC Heavyweight Championship: Tim Witherspoon outpointed Greg Page in a 12 round-bout.
IBF Heavyweight Championship: Larry Holmes knocked out James "Bonecrusher" Smith in the 12th round.

WBA Heavyweight Championship: Tony Tubbs in a 15-round decision over Greg Page.
IBF Heavyweight Championship: Michael Spinks in 15 round decision over Larry Holmes.

WBC Heavyweight Championship: Trevor Berbick in a 12-round decision over Pinklon Thomas.
WBC Heavyweight Championship: Mike Tyson knocks out Trevor Berbick in the 2nd round (November 2nd).
WBA Heavyweight Championship: James "Bonecrusher" Smith knocks out Tim Witherspoon in the 1st round.

WBA and WBC Combined Heavyweight Championship: Mike Tyson defeats James "Bonecrusher" Smith in an unanimous 15-round decision.
Unified Heavyweight Boxing Championship: Mike Tyson wins unanimously in 12 rounds over Tony Tucker.

Heavyweight Boxing Championship: Mike Tyson knocks out Michael Spinks in 1 minute and 13 seconds for the title.

Heavyweight Boxing Championship: Mike Tyson gives Frank Bruno a TKO in the fifth round


As shown above, near the end of the decade Mike Tyson has already began to dominate the heavyweight championships. It is in 1986 that Mike Tyson crowns himself the world Heavyweight Champion at age 22 and becomes the youngest heavyweight champion in ring history.




     The music of the early 1980's was as diverse and crazy as the clothing of the time. One one side, the more trendy music connected with the wild youth of America, on the other, a group of songwriters and storytellers connected with the truth: economic and political instability, relationship, and an increased awareness of globalization.

     The wild side of the 80's came through in many different genres. Metal, a genre that in the 70's had just been a label for bands that played with too much gusto (such as Black Sabbath), now was as full fledged and spirited as disco had been a decade earlier. Like many of the “new” genres of music in the 1980's it would reach it's zenith by the mid-eighties, and take a back seat to the more tried and true styles, which too would develop during the 80's.

     Pop music really started to transform itself with the advent of MTV, which allowed for the music video to shape the image of an artist, creating a required stage presence for artists. Madonna and Michael Jackson dominated the early-to-mid 80's. Thriller would become one of the most played music videos on MTV.     Madonna sold out stadiums worldwide, shocking just about everyone with her wild wardrobe that only the designers of the 80's could dream up.  Bon Jovi would also start their historic career in the Eighties.

     Rock would continue to evolve throughout the eighties, with a throwback to the classic rockers of the last 60's and early 70's. Bruce Springsteen would ultimately seal his fate as one of the greatest musicians of all time, with his albums Nebraska and Born in the USA. The latter's title song would serve falsely as a patriotic anthem for Americans for years. In reality, Springsteen wrote the song as a way of dealing with the lingering stench of the Vietnam war, and of all those who had seen the atrocities in “Nam” and had now integrated back into (or at least tried to) everyday American society.  Tom petty won the hearts of millions with his "Bad boy" attitude and rockabilly sensibility.

     The late 80's also gave birth to many songwriters to become self serving musicians, and still make a living. Steve Earle is probably the most famous of these “Americana troubadours”. His 1988 Copperhead Road would give inspiration to hundreds of small bands across the country, requiring the creation of two new genres of music that would eventually shape the 90's: Indie Rock and Alternative Country.

     In the final years of the 80's, country music eventually took on it's modern form. Studios began to feature drums more regularly and as a more prevalent sound in recording. The electric guitar started to become as versatile as a swiss army knife, being used in both rhythm and lead positions. A large number of new artists began to emerge, such as George Strait, Clint Black, and Alabama. In 1989, Garth Brooks would release his first album, which dominated the charts for months. Part of his success came from his career choice, as he had graduated as an advertising major from Oklahoma State University, which gave him an edge against many of his washed up predecessors; he knew how to appeal to a wide audience. He would eventually become the best selling music artist of all time.



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"The Way We Lived"

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Government & Politics-B

This section evaluates government and politics during the 1920s ...




     To many Americans, the nation's entry into the new decade of the 1980's seemed painfully slow.  Moreover, with the likes of Nixon's Watergate scandal of 1972, as well as Carter's inability to decrease interest rates, inflation, and the trade deficit, the American public desired most an end to the economic challenges that characterized the 70's.  Towards the end of the 1970's, Carter's liberal economic policy precipitated high interest rates and inflation.  These failed attempts played a large role in the decrease in American optimism, which former-acting star Ronald Reagan wanted to bolster.

     During the year 1980, the election for the fortieth president of the United States played out.  With an obvious anti-large government stance, Ronald Reagan used his charming intimacy and excellent public-speaking skills to depict his simple message: "People should have the right to earn your own keep and keep what you earn."  With heavily conservative ideals in his economic policies, Reagan promised and promoted capitalist ideas, restoring the idea of a free-enterprise nation and national respect.

     To display this, Reagan initiated an concept called "Reaganomics" in 1981, which was essentially based on heavy tax cuts and budget reductions for the American people.  In addition, this idea was supported by an economic theory known as "supply side",  This theory basically stems from the belief that by cutting taxes, people would allocate more of their increased incomes on capital investments, which would in turn promote more work and result in higher profits for all, workers and investors alike.



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Law &  Justice-Evan


  • In the mid 1980s Congress abolished parole and passed harsh drug sentencing laws. Many states followed, creating a tenfold increase in the number of drug offenders incarcerated.


                          -Incentives toward cooperation, study, and learning skills would create a safer environment for staff and prisoners alike.

                          -Give prisoners a bigger chance to redeem themselves.

                          -Reduce high cost of incarcerating drug offenders.

                          -Address inhumane overcrowding of prisons.

                          -Lower possibility of terrorist and extremist plots breeding.




Church attendance had declined ...





Positive Political Cartoon

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Negative Political Cartoon

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MYP Unit Question: How did culture, events and leadership shape and reflect post-WWII America?


Yes, this is the most important question of this project.  At LEAST 3 paragraphs are needed.  See your teacher if you need more direction.



Works Cited

"Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union.." The American Presidency Project. 2009. University of

     California. Web. 17 Jun. 2009 .


"Europe Divided on Familiar Lines To Two Speeches." Prescott Evening Courier 54(1948): 6. Print.


Cooke, Jacob E. "Washington, George." Presidents: A Reference History. Ed. Henry F. Graff. 3rd ed. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002. 1- 21. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Farmington Hills: Gale. Web. 30 Apr. 2008. 


Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. Eds. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 3: 1940s-1950s. Detroit: U*X*L, 2002. Print.






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