I was watching Light Sleeper last night. I forgot that in the 80’s being a coke dealer was actually considered a pretty cool job. Part of me wishes that staying up all night, doing lines off the breasts of a couple of hot chicks was how I spent the 80’s but then you see the hair cuts on those chicks and you’re like, man, maybe doing cocaine isn’t such a good idea. Doing lines off the breast of hot chicks was THE golden standard of success in the 80’s. Watch a bunch of 80’s films and you’ll see it again and again. Do that, and you’ve made it! You’re a success! (Death is surely just around the corner.)
If you grew up in the 80’s, chances are that you know it sucked. We knew it even as it was happening. The 70’s was cool. The 80’s was pretending to be cool. I’m not saying we had a lousy time, but even as we were partying, we could tell we were living through a cultural dead zone.
We got shitty everything. Shitty music, shitty movies, shitty art, shitty food, shitty buildings, shitty haircuts (esp. shitty haircuts), shitty clothes, shitty presidents: it was one big shit fest. But the worst part about it was that, at the time, we thought some of it was pretty cool. We loved watching movies like Light Sleeper, with the synth soundtrack and the songs that gave it that music video quality that we couldn’t get enough of. Try watching a film like Fatal Attraction today. Putting aside the awful haircuts and clothes, it goes along in a typical Hollywood way – but wait til you get to the sex scene. Glenn Close and Michael Douglas stop the elevator in her cool, Meat Packing District loft. They go into silhouette, synth music bumps up, and suddenly they’re flying all over the elevator. It’s fucking hilarious! And what’s even funnier is that we thought that was cool at the time. Ugh.
I know young people today have found some cool relics from the 80’s, but I can’t help thinking it’s some kind of joke for them. For them, it’s kitsch. We had no choice. At least they only get the stuff that’s lasted. We had to put up with a cloud of crap. Maybe that’s the same for every generation.
Light Sleeper is not a bad movie, but it is such a product of it’s time. Not just the pager that Dafoe uses and the typically strange 80’s sex scene between him and Dana Delaney, with a typically awful haircut, or the weird expressionist shots. The whole story reeks of the 80’s. Dafoe is a drug dealer whose moral compass is on the fritz while he tries to figure out what he’s going to do next. It sounds deep, and it’s trying to be deep, but it’s really not deep at all. It’s like the 80’s, it’s all a put on. By the way, Dafoe is great.