Children of the '80s, remember how when we were in school, nostalgia was all about the 1950s and '60s?
On TV, we had Happy Days making leather jackets and greasy hair cool again. The 1970s closed out with Grease, ensuring that in the worlds of teenage girls and musical theater, the '50s will never completely die. And in 1985 we had one of our younger stars, Michael J. Fox, driving to his parents' 1950s past in Back to the Future.
And when we turned on the oldies stations, it was acts like The Supremes and The Beach Boys that were infecting us with earworms from our parents' past.
Well, now in our late 30s and 40s, we are the nostalgia now, if you haven't noticed.
That comes into glaring focus Friday with the release of Rock of Ages, a movie musical that celebrates glam metal and power ballads we had blasting from our tape decks during the Reagan era.
If you are of a certain age, all you have to do is hear that the lead character's name is Sherrie Christian, a role originated on stage in Los Angeles by Lexington's Laura Bell Bundy and played in the movie by Julianne Hough. That'll send you on a little nostalgia trip back to hits like Sister Christian by Night Ranger and Oh Sherrie by Steve Perry, Journey's lead singer during it's Don't Stop Believin' heyday. Hough, who was born in 1988, is becoming the favored jailbait of '80s nostalgia fiends: She also starred in last year's remake of the 1984 classic Footloose.
Rock of Ages draws from a fairly broad swath of '80s radio rock but highlights the hair-metal era that was specific to the decade. It was a time when acts like Poison and Mötley Crüe combined feminine gloss and machismo in ways that probably couldn't be pulled off today.
That might be why many stage versions of Rock of Ages have dolled up Stacee Jaxx, the character most representative of the oversexed Sunset Strip glam-rock gods of the '80s, but he's toned down in the movie. Tom Cruise's Stacee looks much more like the frontman for a 21st-century hard-rock band with the tattoos and dark hair as opposed to Aqua Net and guyliner.
Regardless of authenticity, the movie will put a lot of '80s songs, such as Whitesnake's Here I Go Again and Foreigner's Waiting for a Girl Like You, in the ears of kids who, like Hough, weren't alive when they came out.
Rock of Ages is really overt '80s nostalgia, but more subtle forms are popping up all over the place. Click over to TNT — we no longer turn dials, like we did in the '80s — and who's on but that rascal J.R. Ewing on the reboot of Dallas, the CBS drama that launched a fleet of prime-time soaps including Dynasty and Falcon Crest.
Those of us who watched it when we didn't know who shot J.R. until the night of Nov. 21, 1980, can revel in original cast members Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray reprising their roles while younger fans can enjoy hotties Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe playing their children.
Also rebooting this summer is the Alien franchise, which started quietly with the 1979 movie about a killer creature haunting a spaceship and became a phenomenon with 1986's Aliens and its sequels, establishing Sigourney Weaver as a kick-ass sex symbol. Prometheus, Ridley Scott's sort-of prequel to his original, should send fans back to the originals like Rock of Ages inspires downloads of Poison.
Or you could go hear the band live. Poison hits Cincinnati's Riverbend with Def Leppard on July 2. That's one of many '80s-centric tours heading to the region, including Styx and REO Speedwagon at Riverbend on June 26 and KISS and Mötley Crüe at Louisville's KFC Yum Center on Aug 1.
According to a feature in a recent Entertainment Weekly called "Which Summer Nostalgia Tour Is Right for You?," I should catch Poison or the Aerosmith tour (Cleveland on Tuesday is the closest stop). But frankly, I am more interested in Madonna or Duran Duran. The graphic didn't lead me to those because my answer to the question "Do you wear makeup?" was "no," though maybe I should.
I'm feeling kind of old.