Let’s Read Us, June 1983!

Us magazine, while perfectly fine in what it does, is not really the most groundbreaking of publications. I think of it as basically People with a slightly bigger budget. It covers the same things – movie and music reviews, celebrities, current hot topics, wacky human interest pieces tailor made for Monday morning water cooler chat. It has its own signature annual special issues, like the Hot Issue and the Young Hollywood Issue. Six years after the magazine’s launch in 1980 it was bought by Jann Wenner’s media company, which is where it got a little more hip. And brought us covers like this one, that have been seared into my consciousness until the end of time.

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So, let’s start off by talking about Star Wars and nerd culture in general in the early 80s. Nerd culture as we know it did not exist, and while the Star Wars trilogy was a massive hit, it was largely seen as popcorn entertainment for a rainy day. It’s sort of like how the media treated The Beatles as a fad, as noise, as a flash in the pan at best and a threat to social order at worst. Nowadays these properties are iconoclastic, sacred. The fandom was there, but they didn’t have the same platform for expression that we do today. There were no two-hour long podcasts with grown men dissecting every scrap of footage like a religious text. There was no global club of costume enthusiasts who dressed up like Stormtroopers. So, what I’m getting at here is that, clearly, whoever put this cover together and wrote copy like “laser swordsman Luke Skywalker” and “Yoda’s Star Warriors ride The Force” had not seen a single Star Wars movie or bothered to actually pay attention to anything in the media about it, but they probably half-listened to their children talking about it endlessly in the car to school, or frowned uncomprehendingly at the action figures in the toy aisle at Christmastime, and this was what they came up with to describe Star Wars.

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They just couldn’t resist using that “turn on the Fawcett” pun again.

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Y-yeah my truck is small, but what matters is how I drive it! And I drive it like a total asshole!

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Is Vince Cannon’s response to what was probably an innocent error the douchiest possible way to phrase a rebuttal? Maybe I should use it to explain to people why I don’t have kids. “We prefer to keep the family small, because the Porsche only seats two people. Also we live in the Porsche because we can’t afford to own a house here. It’s not even my Porsche, I’m just squatting in this Los Gatos millionaire’s garage until his housekeeper notices.”

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There’s a lot of untouchable classics here (damn, 1983 was a good year for movies and music!), but Jane Fonda’s Workout is the real champ. I can hum the music to it right now. I’m not sure what that number after the cassette means, or why it was seemingly required to be there – maybe it was a reference number for ordering from a catalog?

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Aww look at adorable baby Drew Barrymore and adorable rascal John Wesley Shipp! Seeing him mentioned in the same paragraph as Mark Hamill is fun. They would later be on the Flash tv show together as hero and baddie, in both 1990 and now in the current show.

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Literally setting your hair on fire would be faster and more effective than this.

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Their relationship quickly, uh, tapped out (am I doing this right?) and their love went…dry? When Farrah got over doing her boyfriend’s laundry on the weekends and finally caught on that he was a drip. Hoo, that was some hard work, now who wants to go get wasted at lunch!

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Happy birthday Prince William! Here’s Us to show up like Maleficent at the baby shower to solemnly remind you that the royals are unfeeling robots and this sweet little baby, despite his parents breaking royal tradition to be more involved in his upbringing than any royal ever before, will grow up lonely and sad and pressured to stand his ground in the path of a rampaging camel so that he won’t look like a wuss, like his father. I CURSE YOU!

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“If I hold up this baby like a shield, will it distract all of you from talking about our miserable marriage for two minutes?”

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I’m not sure who’s fantasy this is supposed to be. I’m also puzzled by whatever wacky version of volleyball they’re playing where you frolic around half submerged in the ocean. Maybe red shorts man and blue towel man hurled her into the ocean off-camera. Anyway, this is an anxiety-ramping disaster. It’s two hours and a six pack of Bud away from a very messy fight.

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Not being in a region where sweet potato pie is popular, I had assumed it was a special occasion holiday food, but this is the June issue so I guess it’s a year round food? Maybe it’s the only thing she knows how to make, but they were committed to featuring her this month? Anyway, I trust that Sheryl Lee Ralph seems to know what she’s doing so here, have this timely recipe for the holidays.

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When selecting your accessories for canoodling awkwardly in thigh-high water with a flute of whiskey, make sure your terry cloth sweatband matches your running shorts. Anything else would be weird.

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This is the extent to which they actually talk about Star Wars in this feature. I know, I was also disappointed. Also there’s never any context for why they bring up Star Wars cookies, like there was going to be a helpful photo of all the Star Wars merchandise but they forgot to include it. Top journalism here.

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“He has six more stories but he’s being coy. He’s lost the initiative to make them.” Take your time, George…

This section neglects to mention that George and Marcia were going through a divorce at this time.

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Funny how Leia’s character arc ultimately went from “stolid, avenging soldier” to “romantic heroine” and then “steely mom-general”. Clearly one of these archetypes fits her better than others.

And say it with me, folks:

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FD26583D-1FFC-43EA-A34D-4BCEA1097B36The story goes that Mark Hamill didn’t get cast in the film adaption of Amadeus, despite being hugely successful in it onstage, because the filmmakers “didn’t want Luke Skywalker” in their movie. Sad trombone. So, you know, he picked himself up and became an icon of voice acting, as one does.

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Harrison Ford really has a complex about wanting to be an actor, doesn’t he?

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This interview goes many places. At least he talks about being an actor.

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Brown lip liner and barely tinted lip gloss, always a stunning combination.

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We need a biopic of this woman, and we need it NOW. She will be played by Charlize Theron.

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Darlene “Dar the Star” Langlois was last seen on the one-season 1989 Roller Derby show RollerGames.

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Good to know Jim Davis is committed to his brand.

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I love the way that the photo happens to cut off so that it looks like Lorne Green on this page is a monkey.

Heather Thomas is certainly a striking woman. And so down to earth! Maybe she can get Farrah Fawcett to do her delicates.

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I vaguely remember Joe Bob Briggs from MonsterVision, a show that I loved as a youngin’ back in the 90s, but I didn’t realize until now how far back he was established. I feel like Joe Bob/John Bloom has lived the dream life of every A.V.  Club and Avocado reader, being a person who has made a long and profitable career out of watching and writing about bad movies.

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Apparently the Joe Bob persona was a lot more racist and sexist initially, as that passed as mostly acceptable for humor in the 80s, mostly – if you wrote something so racist that it got you sacked thirty years ago, you must have been a real shithead.

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Quick rundown of what happened to these people:

Dustin Hoffman and children: all his kids had cameos in Hook!
Jack Nicholson: Roadshow? More like Shitshow!
Dwayne and Joan: still married!
Mark and Laraine: were probably on a lot of drugs in that photo!
Eddie and Edward: “In his last years, [Edward] Albert cared for his father who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died at the age of 99 in 2005. The younger Albert was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2005. He died on September 22, 2006 at the age of 55.”

Damn.

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I’m going to pretend that Charles and Diana used these to talk when they were upset at each other.

“Diana, the tabloids have tapped your phone again–”
“–TALK TO THE DOLL, CHARLES.”
“Yes, yes, mhhm. Diana, the press has captured a rather intimate conversation you had with–”
“–DOLLY DIANA ONLY SPEAKS TO DOLLY CHARLES.”
“Oh dash it all, yes, here’s the bloody doll. Now, on the subject of this phone call–”
“WHY DON’T YOU ASK CAMILLA *Diana doll indicates nearby headless half-melted naked Barbie*, SHE KNOWS ALL ABOUT INTIMATE PHONE CALLS DOESN’T SHE.”

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I THREW MY NEGLIGEE OVER THE MONTIOR AND HE TRIED TO HUMP THE MODEM, coming up next on Donoghue

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You owe it to yourself to take three and a half minutes and watch this masterpiece.

 

Why have I only discovered this AFTER Halloween?! I want to dress as all of them at once!

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Frances Toto (no relation to Toto Coelho) served four years in prison from 1984-1988. And then they made a movie about them. And they’re still married today.

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Knowing what we do now about Tracey Gold’s eating disorder, which she had already been diagnosed with before this article, I just want to give her a hug and tell her that she’s going to be ok.

To her credit, Missy Gold actually did go to an Ivy League medical school and is now a practicing psychologist.

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I’ve never heard of Spacehunter, but that sounds like a fun time.

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So…these are the movies that were up against Return of the Jedi. A weird movie about a Roma kid, a nearly 4 hour period piece, a Cheech and Chong movie, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I’ve never seen but seems to have gained a nostalgia following.

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Don’t everyone all answer at once!

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I covet Mrs. Bergen’s dress and shoes, because I too want to look like a sharp businesswoman who does Smirnoff ads in 1983. Do you think she pays up to $50 in an ultra chic hair salon for that perm, or does she do it at home in 30 minutes with Pro Perm 30? New no drip formula! No cap or gloves needed! Just a whole ice bucket of Smirnoff. Please perm responsibly.

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I refuse to believe that you aren’t a woman of the 80s unless you’re doing Jazzercise with a lit Virginia Slims Lights in your hand.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, as always. Next week we’ll be going forward almost 20 years to continue our look back at Star Wars, back in a time when things were so…hopeful.

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Time, April 1999!