Energy And The Childhoods’ of The 1980s. Dusko Jocic (May 10th, 2006)
“The planet of Prysmos had enjoyed a technological age for several thousand years, untill the realignment
of the three suns marked the end of the age of science and technology and began the age of magic. Prysmos had
now entered a kind of medieval age where all forms of technology were now useless and mankind on Prysmos had
to resort to a more primitive and simple way of living.” This is the storyline of an animated childrens’ show
in the 80s, called Knights of the Magical Light. The show begins with a glimpse into a society where all
technology stops and powerdown is immediate and hard. The introductory credits show cars stopping, buildings
and computers losing power and society coming appart.
The show was on briefly in 1987 but the themes are relevant to that time and ours today. As a child
growing up in the 1980s’ I worshipped plastic. All of the Lego blocks, Gi Joes’, Transformers and other toys
were all made of plastic and I loved them all. But I had no idea that they were made of a substance that my
future children will enjoy in limited quantities. My childhood was void of rivers, streams and playing in the
great outdoors. Instead, I played Nintendo and was fortunate that my parents bought me a 286 Computer to work
my way into the life of the pixel jockey that I am today.
Shows like Transformers: Robots in Disguise, portrayed Transformers using energon cubes as their source
of power. They would enslave humans in some episodes at powerplants and gas refineries to create power for their
needs. But where energy came from and why it was craved was always a mystery on these shows. The characters never seemed to fill their gas tanks or plug into a wall to recharge. This taught children that energy was like modern magic and it wasn’t to be understood, only used.
The eighties childrens’ culture was teaching us that energy was always there. My generation didn’t go
through the oil shocks of the 70s, Or the civil unrest of the 60s. We weren’t the first ones to live in Suburbia
in the 1950’s. Instead we were the first generation to grow up with aggressive consumption as our goal in life.
I remember kids having hundreds of GI Joes’ they would bring to class, when I was in school in 1983. I was so
envious of them but these figures lulled most of my classmates into a false sense of security that they would
always have everything they wanted and it would be handed to them on mass. I came from an immigrant family and only had 5-10 figures that I accumulated over 2-3 years and I prized each one and loved it to death. But the
spoiled children grew up to be the spoiled teenagers in my high school and eventually droped out of school or
become disillusioned with life when things didn’t come easily for them. Every subsequent generation of children has had tons of cheap toys and video games.
Today video games are the big thing. Instead of the limited Nintendo, Atari And Sega game systems of the 90s. Gaming is a collective hallucination. You can move objects and create entire economies of scale in a virtual environment. Games like the Sims create virtual people and economies that are so lifelike that virtual extortion and thuggery were once a problem for game designers. But what happens when romantic childhood ends with cheap energy and children are once again forced to grow up quickly? Micro management games allow you to harvest virtual resources and take over the world by beating your opponents.
In the past, children were seen as little people and dressed as adults and told to behave like adults
in training. But today kids are a subspecies of humans and teenagers with huge disposable incomes and no real
financial benefit to society. They are a subspecies of creature what I’d like to call Homo Consumerous. They take
without giving and then have to go out and make a life for themselves outside the easy ones they’ve had with
Most end up bouncing between jobs and their parents house, as many of the people I now know in their mid
to late twenties. The words of Veruca Salt from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory define my generation. “I don’t
care how, I want it now!” And that’s what an entire generation of underemployed, part-timers, swimming in credit
card debt and playing their Playstations are saying. Can’t wait to see how these kids of the hydrocarbon world
change in twenty years time.