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. It pushed the album to gold and helped make Henley's solo career legitimate: "Dirty Laundry".Now... what if Henleyneverrecorded that song? Surely, one song wouldn't have that big an impact on history, right?Well...Note: This trope page is currently under construction. Anyone who has read "Dirty Laundry: An Alternate 1980s" should feel free to add any tropes we seem to have missed.
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.
After Atari is forced to back out of their deal with Howard Scott Warshawnote his being paid $200,000 (plus expenses) in exchange for designing the ET The Extra Terrestrial game, 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: aPac-Manclone. This makes it the Atari 2600's Killer App.
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 Tipper Gore listening to "Darling Nikki" IOTL convinced her to join up with Susan Baker, Pam Howar, and Sally Nevius to make the group in 1985. But, since Prince's career tanked...
Five more words: No "We Are The World".note Live Aid inspired Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to make the song and assemble the supergroup "USA for Africa" to sing it.note Confirmation; first response.
Anna Spheeris dying at age 15 means The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is never made.note When Anna was 17 IOTL, she introduced her mom, Penelope, to the metal acts performing on the Sunset Strip. That inspired her to create that documentary.
In the 1984 Summer Olympics, Mary Lou Retton wound up receiving the silver medal in Gymnastics. You see, she was .05 points behind 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".
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 succeed in beating him to death.
This also apparently ties into a rise of vigilantism in the United States.
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 John Cusack as Marty McFly, Melora Hardin as Jennifer Parker, and Joan Cusack as Linda McFly.
The plots for the Back to the Future trilogy 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.
Mash 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.
Despite it being released under Atari, the Nintendo Entertainment System only has three changes made to it from OTL.note The Atari logo (obviously), a "slightly modified version of OTL's gamepad with a screw-hole in the center of the D-pad and a small joystick screwed into it", and "that crappy Ricoh 6502-knockoff" microprocessor being replaced with the actual 65C02.
Andrew: I picked this date because IOTL, Kassar sold $250,000 worth of Warner stock just twenty minutes before Warner reported lower-than-projected profits of 10% for the year. Warner stock tanked at the announcement, and Kassar ultimately was investigated by the SEC for insider training, leading to his resignation. The cloud of (justifiable) suspicion that hung over Kassar for all of 1983 crippled Atari's reputation on Wall Street and contributed to the cascade of disaster IOTL.
Just like OTL, we have a Mullins v. Coca-Cola case.
Election Night: The posts concerning the 1984 presidential election and the 1985 congressional election.
The Eighties: Duh. Although, it's been hinted that this timeline may go past this decade.note The occasional glimpse into the future aside, that is. Those were used to explain about past events in this timeline; we have yet to actually have a post explaining the world past the eighties.
An in-universe example comes from Rush Limbaugh's 1986 stunt of essentially parodying himself by convincing his listeners that Slim Whitmannote a singer from the 1950s's songs contain Satanic messages. While the event also occurred IOTL, ITTL he's successful in gaining the nation attention he desired.
Andrew: Spoiler: this will be the last year for which that holds true.
Another interesting case is the existence of "The Lost Episode", a sketch-comedy show that doesn't exist IOTL. Think of it as a better, well-recieved "The New Show". Why is this an example? It pretty much gives away the fate of Saturday Night Live ITTL.
Andrew:[W]ithout OTL's bomb The New Show, Lorne Michaels doesn't go crawling back to NBC to write for SNL in 1985. Now, SNL['s] still on the air during a very lowly-regarded 1985 season, but if you think this bodes ill for its future, you'd be correct....
Futureshadowing: The "Where Are They Now?" transcript/episode which reveals, along with other minor details, Def Leppardbreaks up in 1993.
Gone Horribly Wrong: Coca-Cola's plan of releasing "New Coke" to compete with Pepsi in the cola wars. How badly did this go down? By 1989, the company only accounts for 11% of the soft-drink market, as opposed to the 50% it had originally.Yeah.
Honor Before Reason: Don's steadfast refusal to go along with Dave's plan to counteract Edd Hargett's plans to win the election, despite that it looking like they have no other options.
Don: You're telling me that I have to choose between my principles and politics, and that's not a hard choice, Dave. If politics asks me to go back on my word, to lie, cheat, and steal the votes I need to get over the finish line, well, then politics asks too much.
Hope Spot: Apparently, despite I Can't Stand Still flopping, Danny Kortchmar hoped that he and Henley would one day take another crack at making an album. Then Henley calls up on May 21, 1985 saying he's running for Congress.
Also his reasoning behind having Coca-Cola's "Project Kansas" be in all capital letters.
Andrew: [B]ecause (a) it sounds more ominous, and (b) it sounds more '80s. Can't you just picture a secret folder in Red Dawn labeled "PROJECT KANSAS"? I sure can.
Also his reasoning in keeping the picture of the "Credit Card Bank", with the kid in the suit, as is ITTL.
Andrew: This toy is completely unchanged from OTL, but that picture is just so adorably ‘80s I had to include it. He’s wearing a little suit and tie!
It Will Never Catch On: Near the end of his "Is New Wave Dead?" article, Kurt Loder says that he feels "[his] colleagues [arguing] that [Rolling Stone magazine] should declare Irish rockers U2 the 'Band of the '80s'" is "premature".
Kick the Dog: Yeah, Kevin Gardner wasn't too kind to Henley in informing him that his contract with Asylum was done:
"Yeah, done. As in 'cancelling your contract.' As of now, you and your Uilleann pipes are headed for the discount bin at Tower Records. Your advance check is in the mail, but I wouldn't stay up late at night waiting to hear about royalties." Kevin laughed cruelly, and then hung up.
Laser-Guided Karma: An example that played the long game: Danny Kortchmar accidentally caused Don Henley's solo carrier to fail by preventing "Dirty Laundry". Then Don decided to enter politics; then he decided to run for Congress. He asks Kootch to be his campaign manager, who (after having his hopes of he and Don try to make another album crushed) agrees. And then enters Les Francis who tells Don (while helping him fix his failing campaign) to fire Kootch. And then after saying he can't, Don mulls this over... and decides to do it.
The New Rock & Roll: An "Interem Report" was proposed to Meese Commission Chairman Henry E. Hudson concerning "'more than 100' popular heavy metal songs from groups such as Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, Slayer, AC/DC and WASP '[containing] coded Satanic messages' that 'may be used to brainwash children'". It's rejected because Hudson feels it's "beyond the scope of [the] Committee’s authority to regulate and control pornography". That's despite agreeing with the findings, btw.
Non Indicative Title: Zig-zagged: "December, 1984: For Those About to Rock...." actually consists of a transcript of the February 28, 2013, episode of ITTL's MTV show "Where Are They Now?"note Granted, December 1984 is discussed....
Of course, the Billboard Top 100 keeps making appearances.
The Number of the Beast: Concerning timing with posts, narrowly averted. Thanks to two separate posts from the same forum member from earlier in the week it was posted, "Night Stalker" was only the 668th post. YMMV if this was a good thing.
Panda Polka Party and the single "I Want a Panda" were criticized by PETA as offering implicit support for China's "rent-a-panda" program, instituted in 1984, whereby pandas were "loaned" to other nations for a period of ten years in exchange for a large cash fee, often exceeding USD$1,000,000.
Take a Third Option: Sort of: Instead of outright firing Kootch as his campaign manager, Don gives him to Glenn Frey as to be the latter's new song writer.
Take That: In-universe, we have a stunt that also occurred IOTL: Rush Limbaugh making fun of the "Satanism" moral panic by claiming that Slim Whitman's songs had underlying Satanic messages. Given how much bigger said panic is ITTL and that this stunt got him the attention he sought out by doing this IOTL, this is an interesting case.
Very Special Episode: Still prevalent ITTL, as evidenced by Family Ties having a string of these resulting in Elyse Keaton's pregnancy ending in a miscarriage and causing the Keatons to adopt a little girl they re-name Ariel Moonbeam Keaton (played by OTL's ill-fated Judith Barsi).
Word of Dante: Andrew admits that he fudged the details concerning "Dirty Laundry"'s creation (specificly that it was the last song written for I Can't Stand Still). "The only person who knows for sure is Henley, and he's not likely to tell us."
A similar example was the decision to have Coca-Cola's codename for "Coke Classic" to be "Merchandise '7X-23'"; he couldn't find out what the actual codename was.note For reference sake, "New Coke"'s name in both OTL and TTL was "Merchandise '7X-100'".
"Let's Go Crazy" reveals that Prince isn't safe from the timeline... not at all.
"December, 1984: For Those About to Rock...." reveals that Guns N' Roses isn't founded ITTL because of Axl Rose being picked up as Vince Neil's replacement for Mötley Crüe. ... Because Vince died.
"July 5, 1985": Don receives a visit from Les Francis who, after revealing that Don "blew a thirty five point lead in five weeks", helps Don rework his campaign. This involves demanding Don to fire Kortchmar as his campaign manager and marry Maren.
"Bite the Wax Tadpole", which covers ITTL's "New Coke" debacle. The outcome is the equivalent of smacking someone upside the head. With a brick.
After a long hiatus, we get "January 30, 1986"note Actually, it begins with a Flash Forward to 1993, but.... Why is this an example? Well, simply for the reveal that Bernhard Goetz, who had all charges dropped against him ITTL, becoming New York's mayor in 1993.
"By the end of 1983, Commodore will drop the price of the C-64 to under $200, and it will become the best-selling computer of all time, selling more than fifteen million units, and driving Texas Instruments, Timex-Sinclair, Coleco, Tandy-Radio Shack, and the IBM PCjr from the personal computer market in what is now called the 'Home Computer Market Crash of 1984.'"
From "Let's Go Crazy":
"'Purple Rain is the sixth and penultimate studio album by American recording artist Prince and The Revolution and is the soundtrack album to the 1984 film of the same name.'"note Really, there's more Wham Lines in that post; only one was chosen as an example.
From "July 5, 1985"; also one that doubles as an in-universe one for Don:
Les Francis: "I'm not here to lick envelopes, Don. I'm here so that I can meet the asshole who's managed to blow a thirty-five-point lead in five weeks."
While there's a bigger one at the end of it, "Bite the Wax Tadpole" opens with one which gives a general idea of how things play out:
"Most people today – having been thoroughly immersed in the spectacle that was the Mullins v. Coca-Cola lawsuit – point to 1985 as the 'Year That Coke Lost The Cola Wars'".
"Ramirez, who was an avowed Satanist, was identified, surrounded, and beaten to death the day after his mug shot was broadcast on national television and printed on the cover of every major newspaper in California."
In-Universe, Don Henley responded with this after Danny Kortchmar said that the lyrics Henley and Mike Campbell wrote had the potential for a number one hit.note For clarification, the song in question is "The Boys of Summer".
When he'd shown the lyrics to Kortchmar, Kootch insisted he was sitting on a potential number one hit. For a few minutes, Kootch saw that spark and thought they might actually try and put together another album – but then Don just shook his head. "File it all under 'what could have been,' Kootch." And so he did.
"Apparently, Mr. Reagan — or whomever calls the shots on the President's staff — somehow managed to confuse Bruce's thoughtful, introspective lyrics with the usual mindless, flag-waving, America-love-it-or-leave-it nonsense one typically associates with the Reagan campaign."