So what is Branded in the 80s and who is that goofy looking kid on that big wheel below (and why isn’t he wearing any pants?) Well, I’m that kid and it was Christmas morning so excitement trumped getting dressed properly. My name is Shawn Robare and I’ve been thinking about writing a full on mission statement about this site for awhile as I think the title can be misleading, relying too much on an encrypted personal mantra.
I was born in a country and on the crest of a decade that is easy to dismiss. For the most part the 80s in America appear to exist in a hyper-reality filled with idiotic consumerism, over indulgence and some pretty bad music. The decade was the nexus at which point pop culture and corporate branding, both at an apex, merged into one gargantuan beast that changed the direction of entertainment and the general perception for most of the planet. The obvious path this leads to is one of retaliation, a sarcastic mix of adulation and self-loathing. This sort of idea that’s equal parts loving and mocking of something flawed is a hard one for me to swallow. I get it and I can admit that it’s sometimes funny, but I think it tends toward being too easy and usually a little bit callow.
I grew up and came of age in an environment that was equal parts depressing and amazing. When I sat down and decided on a name for this project I wanted it to honestly reflect my passion and fondness for my childhood experience, and when I think about my childhood it brings to mind all of the corporate pop culture milestones I grew up with. For me, nostalgia can be a pretty odd beast, especially when it comes to mining through the proverbial junkyard left in the wake of decades of pop culture. This wasteland is a resource though; it’s a veritable Rosetta stone that can help unlock the personal mysteries of my youth.
Little Orphan Orange Otter Pops mean so much more to me than frozen sticks of water, food coloring and high fructose corn syrup. Looking at an Otter Pop is like looking through a window into a specific memory. I’m sitting on a ground-mounted distribution transformer, you know, one of those hideously ugly drab-green cubic monstrosities that pepper the suburban landscape; the ones that you aren’t supposed to sit on or play near. My ass and thighs are burning through my thin Maui brand surf shorts, and I’m having a conversation about skateboarding with my best friend Peanut, discussing the viability of perfecting an ollie or attempting my first rail-slide that doesn’t end with skinning my shins raw. I’m letting my Otter Pop melt, breaking up the ice crystals with my teeth through the packaging to expedite the process as I always loved drinking them as a kid. The ice hurt the fillings in my teeth if I ate them straight up.
This is what it means to be Branded in the 80s. I hope that through a steady deconstruction of childhood pop culture I can discover more about who and what I am and how I fit into the world. I mean, a healthy dose of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe had to have an effect on my good-natured morality. But what does it mean in the context of the same cartoon series eschewing in a decade of intense action and adventure animation. Isn’t that sort of content supposed to have a negative effect on me as well, desensitizing me and teaching me it’s okay to utilize violence to solve problems? If you ask me I think this sort of thing is worth investigating.
So what kind of content are you going to find on this site? Most everything is broken up into the various columns that you can find on the left sidebar…
Peel Here is a column where I wax nostalgic on my enormous sticker collection. Because of the range in branding that stickers represent, the column leads to all sorts of discussion on 80s pop culture.
In the Cartoon Commentary! column I deconstruct specific episodes of the various cartoons I grew up with, as well as taking a microscopic approach to understanding the process of animation by exploring individual cels from my authentic collection of hand drawn & painted cartoon artwork.
Buried in DVDs is the section of the site I’ve set aside for dissecting the various films and television I love and love to hate. I also use this column as an excuse to make upcoming release announcements for the various movies and shows I’m looking forward to on DVD.
Under the Vintage TV Guides of the 80s banner you’ll find some page by page deconstructions of Fall Preview issues that were released during the late 70s and 80s. It’s a great resource for finding some old forgotten gems that have never seen syndication or release on home video.
In 2010 I started a new column called Soda Pop Culture in which I’m going to try and take a look at America’s favorite frosty carbonated beverages, as well as all of the weird drinks I loved growing up. In addition to soda I’ve also covered a series of frozen drinks modeled after the Slurpee and Icee design.
I also have a couple of 80s themed resources on Branded. One is a collection of Saturday Morning cartoon ads that ran in comic books throughout the 70s and 80s. The other is a comprehensive list of 80s cartoons available on DVD in the US and Canada.
In addition to the above columns I’m also involved in producing two podcasts:
This website began with the inception of the Branded in the 80s podcast where I remember what it was like to be a kid, featuring personal recollections and commentary on subjects ranging from fast food to toys.
Recently I also helped re-launch the Saturday Supercast, a podcast that serves as a love letter to animation of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. With co-hosts Jerzy Drozd and Kevin Cross, I help deconstruct cartoons, taking them apart to see what works, what doesn’t, and how they fit into the over medium.
You can find some examples of my drawings on my flickr page.
I also succumbed and created a silly facebook page, though for the life of me I don’t know why.
I’m also on Twitter.
Hmmm, what else to write. I know, I’ll make one of those “things about me” lists that the bloggers seem to be so fond of…
Ever since I drank a fifth of tequila in one sitting, even smelling it can make me puke.
I used to collect comic books.
I currently have more DVDs than dollars in my savings account, which stands to reason.
I love making lists.
I love updating the lists that I make.
I was born on the 7th day of the week, on the 17th day of the 7th month of the 77th year in the 20th century.
I provided some artwork for a DVD that you can rent on Netflix.
I’ve never been out of the country or visited the west coast.
I love Slurpees, but I’ll accept most any frozen drink in it’s place.
I can’t stand the taste of cloves.
The only fight I was ever in was also with a kid named Shawn.
I used to carry a can of Spam around as a pet in high school until some retarded (not literally) chick stuck a knife in it.
I don’t believe that they make horror movies like they used to.
I prefer practical effects over CGI in film any day.
After seeing the Phantom Menace in theaters 4 times I vowed never to pay to see another Star Wars prequel ever again, but I bought into the Episode III hype and I’ve hated myself a little ever since.
I suffer from an intense arachnophobia.
My favorite holiday is Halloween.
I have a strong belief that toys will suffocate if you keep them mint in box or mint on card condition.
I think Wolverine looks best in the orange and brown suit (or in the all black suit as Patch.)
I have issues staying focused on hobbies, usually completely dropping/selling off the previous one to fund the next one.
I enjoy being disturbed.
I think that Kill Bill Vol.1 and 2 is best viewed as one long movie, not two.
I adore calamari.
I’m semi-obsessed with cephalopods.
I suck at remembering birthdays.
I will wear clothes until they are practically falling off my body rather than buy new.
Anthony Bourdain is a personal hero of mine, though on the opposite end, so is Alton Brown.
Though I was born in Texas, and lived most of my life in the south, I feel like a northerner.
The first album I ever owned was a Best of the Beach Boys record.
I was a metal-head in elementary and middle school.
My favorite music is usually centered around punk rock, so either glam, rockabilly, new wave, hardcore or of the 80s underground.
I believe that hatchbacks make wonderful cars.
I really, really like 1971 Mach 1 Mustangs.
I’m a watcher and collector by nature, and my biggest fear of dying is not being able to see what happens next, or continue my accumulation of crap.
I try never to miss any Ween concert that comes through Atlanta.
I hate the sound of my voice on tape.
The spicier the food the better, both in terms of heat and interesting flavors.
I can use chopsticks to eat rice.
I hope to one day own at least one episode of ever TV show I’ve ever loved on DVD, which is a whole lot of TV shows.
I was naturally blonde until I was about 4, then my hair turned brown.
I used to have a reoccurring nightmare of a giant hotdog being forced through a barn.
I picked the lock on a hotel mini-bar once.
I love monsters, especially the Universal incarnations, and specifically the creature from the black lagoon and Frankenstein’s monster.
I’ve exhibited my wares (self published magazine and this very website) at a comic convention which was one of the big things on my “To Do Before I Die” list.