Web Original / Dirty Laundry: An Alternate 1980s

"Okay, Kootch, I get it," Don interrupted, still trying to clean up the mess. "Still, I can't shake this feeling that there's one more great song stuck up here." He pointed to his head, and then looked down at the mess. "But I think any chance of that just poured out into the carpet."

Inspired by the rise of pop-culture centered timelines brought about from That Wacky Redhead, AlternateHistory.com member Andrew T sought out to create his own, this one focusing on the 1980s. So, how did he go about doing it? Simple: with an album change.

If you are familiar with the Eagles, you should know this story: after the Eagles broke up in 1980, one of its founding members pursued a solo career. He was Don Henley and, in 1982, he released his very first solo album, I Can't Stand Still. From this came a song which managed to reach #3 on the charts, push the album to gold and help make Henley's solo career legitimate: "Dirty Laundry".

Now... what if Henley never recorded that song? Surely, one song wouldn't have that big an impact on history, right?


As of July 1, 2017, the timeline is more or less on extended hiatus.

This work contains examples of:

    For Want Of A Nail 
  • Danny Kortchmar falling victim to the "imaginary table". Why? This led him to spill his Stolichnaya, which ultimately caused Henley and him to clean it up with "towels, napkins, and even Don's discarded notes"... including the ones which would've resulted in "Dirty Laundry".
    • A secondary one in this? Don's girlfriend, Maren Jensen, being woken up and talking Henley into going to bed early, convincing him that the album's done.
    • I Can't Stand Still sells poorly without its hit single. This hits Henley, who gives up on music, and the parent company of its record label, Warner Bros., who that same year purchases a booming gaming company...
  • Atari is forced to back out of their deal with Howard Scott Warshawnote , he quits. As such, Carla Meninsky was hired to take his place. Along with recruiting a team of programmers, she's able to create the one ET game that fits Steven Spielberg's vision: a Pac-Man clone. This makes it the Atari 2600's Killer App.
    • Plus by making a better ET game, The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 is averted.
      • Not to mention that Warshaw was later picked up by Activision and is able to have his game Saboteur be made/released properly ITTL, instead of it being turned into an The A-Team game and then shelved.
    • Furthermore Atari ends up in a way better position than it does in OTL. How much better? Atari would end up establishing a research division similar to IBM's that in OTL created the Deep Blue and Watson AIs.
  • Rick Allen still ends up in his infamous street race ITTL... but this time had enough caution to slow down at that curve, avoiding his accident.
  • Thanks to the success of "Panda Polka Party", "Weird Al" Yankovic decides to use a formula for future albums: Side A contains direct parodies of hit songs, Side B contains original content.
    • Speaking of which, because Al removed "Nature Trail to Hell" in lieu of "I Want a Panda", "'Weird Al' Yankovic in 3-D" became "Panda Polka Party".
    • Unrelated to "Panda Polka Party", the song "When I Was Your Age" is butterflied away because of Andrew's stance that it's a "Dirty Laundry" style parody (a song which doesn't exist ITTL).note 
  • While the specifics aren't clear yet, apparently by TTL's 2010s, DVDs don't exist. (Atari's presence led to a different media format)
  • Thanks to E.T. II bombing, Steven Spielberg decides to pull the plug on what would become Gremlins and delay Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, meaning it missed out on the summer blockbuster season.
    • On the flip-side, it comes out with a PG-13 rating, meaning the stuff that was cut IOTL to get it a PG rating is in tact.
  • Because of Prince's career failing due to Purple Rain flopping, the Parents Music Resource Center is never made.note 
  • No Live Aid.note 
  • Anna Spheeris dying at age 15 means The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is never made.note 
  • In the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, Mary Lou Retton wound up receiving the silver medal in Gymnastics. You see, she was .05 points behind Ecaterina Szabo due to a "nearly-imperceptible bobble on her dismount", which led her to getting a 9.9.
    Andrew: I don't have to tell you what's changed here, do I?
    • Another Olympics nail: Who ended up taking the gold in Boxing ITTL? Evander Holyfield.
  • Because of Vince Neil dying in the car accident ITTL, Mötley Crüe ultimately bring in Axl Rose as his replacement. That's right. No "Guns N' Roses".
    • As for a would-be "casualty" of the above, Slash joined Poison, and would later replace Steve Clark on Def Leppard.
  • Boston releases Third Stage two years earlier, and Tom Scholz ends up replacing David Lee Roth in Van Halen. The OTL replacement Sammy Hagar joins Journey instead, and Raised on Radio is instead his debut Alien (while Steve Perry takes away some of OTL's songs to his solo career).
  • Apparently, the "Meese Report" is more expanded than IOTL.
  • Because Fletch does better ITTL, it manages to spawn several sequels... Fletch Lives apparently not being one.
  • Coca-Cola still goes to court over "New Coke". However, this time it gets hit hard, ultimately losing 39% of it's presence in the soft-drink market.note 
    • Funnily enough, while not stated by name, the trope is referenced in the post itself:
    Coke responded with a jingoistic – but initially successful – ad campaign declaring "It’s the Real American Thing," a riff on the company’s long-standing "It’s the Real Thing" ads. In the response commercials, Coca-Cola claimed to have switched to "corn sugar" – a euphemism for HFCS – because "it’s sugar grown right here in America." Initial consumer response was positive. Had those commercials been fifteen seconds long instead of thirty, Coca-Cola might have escaped with much of its market share intact. What followed were the fateful words of the stentorian announcer intoning that, except for the HFCS, "Coca-Cola uses the same recipe today that it did back in my great-grandfather’s day."
  • Stephen Pearcy, front-man for RATT, wound up getting arrested in Abilene, Texas during the '85 tour for "violating the state obscenity statute".
    • Also, Jon Bon Jovi winds up covering for him for the rest of the tour (his band was the opening act, as per OTL, making this an easy thing to do).
  • Yet another example pointed out in-universe: It rained on the day of the 1985 congressional electionnote . "Had the day been sunny and bright – as the weather service had erroneously predicted – Henley would have surely lost."
  • The Impossiball is sold under Matchbox instead of Milton Bradley and is designed to be not just a twisty puzzle, but also something like a soccer ball.
  • The Heavy Metal "Satanism" moral panic ITTL is actually worse.
  • You know Richard Ramirez? You know, the "Night Stalker"? Well, not only did his actions tie into organised Satanism ITTL, but when the mob surrounded him after his mugshot was released to the public, they succeeded in beating him to death.
    • This also apparently ties into a rise of vigilantism in the United States.
  • "February 1986: Of AIDS and the Philippines" details how Surgeon General C. Everett Koop mailing out the "Understanding AIDS" pamphlets two years earlier than IOTL affects President Ferdinand Marcos' snap election. The end result can be simply described as From Bad to Worsenote 
  • Despite still happening, Chernobyl winds up being one magnitude less disastrousnote  due to Toptunov managing to avoid inserting the graphite control rods too far into the reactor during the reduction process ITTL.
  • Instead of going into music, Kurt Cobain followed his friend Bobcat Goldthwait into comedy. No, really, that happens.
  • Because of Who's the Boss?' crossover episode with Benson, we get confirmation that Benson takes place in Connecticut.
  • Good news? The California Raisins still exist ITTL. Bad news? It's In-Name-Only; instead of claymation raisins, we have The Weather Girls wearing raisin costumes. And, as a cherry on top, their signature song isn't "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"; it's a parody of "It's Raining Men" called "It's Raisin Bran!".
  • The USFL antitrust lawsuit against the NFL is taken to a Baltimore-based court instead of a New York-based one, resulting in the USFL winning and winds up screwing the NFL hard. This is pointed out by Keith Olbermann ITTL:
    Without that verdict, as many of you surmise, the NFL would have never agreed to absorb the fledgling USFL and expand to an additional seven cities: Baltimore, Birmingham, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Memphis, Oakland, Orlando, as well as resolve the situation with the New Jersey Generals.
    • The worst team in the USFL, the Arizona Wranglers, wound up declaring bankruptcy and folding after the inaugural season due to them losing the game against the Chicago Blitz ITTL and the Baltimore Colts moving to Phoenix in 1984. This also winds up preventing a "very weird franchise swap" that ruined both USFL franchises' credibility.
  • "The Super Bowl Shuffle" becomes "Perfect Season" ITTL, with "The Black-N-Blues Brothers" being re-purposed for the song.
  • Pink Floyd is still revived... but not by David Gilmour with A Momentary Lapse of Reason, but Roger Waters with Radio Waves (a souped-up Radio K.A.O.S. featuring the band that recorded Waters' previous solo album... which means Eric Clapton became part of Pink Floyd).
    • The reason this happens at all? Gilmour discovered that Waters was planning a new “Pink Floyd” album, unlike IOTL where it was the other way around.
  • 1986 has an album named "Magnatar", bearing a pentagram on the cover and originally released under the Intentionally Awkward Title Don't Be a Faggot. Which means the Beastie Boys never made a full transition to rap, and were forced to make a Super Group with Slayer, also produced by Rick Rubin.
  • "Little Red Corvette" underperforming kills "Stand Back" as both songs are directly related.
  • Patrick Ewing reports for the NBA Draft one year earlier.

    In Spite Of A Nail 
  • Not only does Back to the Future still exist ITTL, but all but three of the actors remain the same from OTLnote .
    • The plots of the OTL Back to the Future films are essentially the same ITTL, only Part II is TTL's Part IV and Part III is TTL's Part II.
  • Posts involving album info reveal that The Other Wiki still exists ITTL.
  • M*A*S*H still has its finale ITTL, the same Nielson rating and the same amount of viewers as well.
    Andrew: All exactly as IOTL. Unlike certain other timelines, the M*A*S*H* finale remains one of the defining moments of the early 1980s ITTL.
  • Ronald Reagan still gets two terms ITTL.
    • Not to mention that the "Star Wars speech" still occurs on March 23, 1983.
      • Plus, the "Springsteen incident"note  still occurs as well. Really, it's shaping up that Reagan isn't that effected by the timeline.
      • Emphasis on "that".
  • Unfortunely, Billy Squier's "Rock Me Tonite?" music video is still a thing.
  • "Welcome to the Jungle" is still made, albeit as a Mötley Crüe song; the same album also features "November Rain".
  • Despite it being released under Atari, the Nintendo Entertainment System only has three changes made to it from OTL.note 
  • We still get "New Coke". Oh, boy, do we still get "New Coke".
    • Not to mention that Bill Cosby is still chosen as the spokesman for Coca-Cola. However, unlike OTL, he was devastated after what was revealed in Mullins v. Coca-Cola, saying that he was "misled".
  • The Iran-Contra Scandal hasn't ("yet?") been butterflied away.
  • The Impossiball is still invented in the 1980s but has a slight design modification to make it "an actual, playable ball" on top of a twisty puzzle.
  • We still have a "Satanism" scare here... only worse.
  • Sadly, the "Night Stalker" still ran rampant ITTL. As for how it played out? ...well...
  • This post concerns two OTL events that still occur ITTL: "The Punisher"'s 1986 reboot and the Challenger disaster. The second one being a very sad case because Andrew wanted to avert it.
  • The "Understanding AIDS" pamphlets still get mailed out and President Ferdinand Marcos' snap election still happens. Thanks to them happening in the same year, however, butterflies result in Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile enacting a coup, declaring himself the sovereign government of the Philippines, dissolving the Batasang Pambansa and promising a "new Constitution.
    • Also Cardinal Jaime Sin still condemns the "Understanding AIDS"' pamphlets. The butterflies affect him too, however; he winds up getting arrested at Manila International Airport, which helps cause the above to happen in a way.
  • Chernobyl still happens but winds up being one magnitude less disastrous ITTL.
  • Ready to have your mind blown? Despite "Dirty Laundry" not existing ITTL, "Dirty Laundry" still exists (albeit as a feature-length film called "The Punisher: Dirty Laundry" instead of being a short film).
    • What makes this funnier is that Andrew only found out about that short film's existence after planning out the reboot of "The Punisher".
  • "The Wonder Years" still becomes a thing, even with Fred Savage starring in it!
  • The California Raisins are still a thing ITTL albeit In-Name-Only.
  • Warner still sells Atari mid-1984. Except it was due to Warner Bros.'s movie division not doing so well, lacking the successes of Gremlins and Purple Rain ITTL. And even if Atari was profitable, it still required heavy investment to develop new computers and Warner wasn't exactly aiming to be in the electronics business. Compared to OTL however, they sold Atari in one piece, instead of selling the games and hardware divisions separately. And the buyer? Honeywell, who wanted to mainly compete against IBM in selling business computers.
  • Jack Tramiel still gets forced out of Commodore, and buys a failing computer company, and have it sell hardware based on OTL's Atari ST. The failing company in this timeline, however, would be Tandy, not Atari.
  • Ray Kassar still gets investigated for insider trading in relation to Atari's moves. Instead of selling Warner stock before Atari's bad earnings were announced, he bought Warner stock on margin before Atari's sale was announced.
  • Sadly, "Son of Svengoolie" still gets cancelled ITTL.note  However, on the bright side, this still happens.note 
  • Keith Olbermann still is writing for Sports Illustrated in TTL's-1986.
  • Donald Trump still bought the New Jersey Generals in 1983 and still wound up being a key figure in the USFL v. NFL case.
  • Although "The Super Bowl Shuffle" is "Perfect Season" ITTL, all the song's proceeds went to the Chicago Community Trust to help needy families in Chicago. Word of God even says that some version of Walter Peyon's lyric "Now we’re not doing this because we’re greedy, the Bears are doing it to feed the needy." still exists in the song.
  • Believe it or not, Still The Big Chill exists IOTL. You know it as "Hometown".
  • There is still a massive Award Snub in the Best Hard Rock/Metal category at the 1989 Grammys. Only this time it's Def Leppard winning instead of Jethro Tull.

The tropes that have been affected by butterflies:

But by and large, this TL is meant to be a trip back to the 1980s where up is down, black is white, and Saturday Night Live is cancelled in 1986. Doesn't that sound at least a little bit fun to you?