There are some fads which seem to defy any rational explanation, and sometimes you see one and just go, “WTH?” The 1980s is full of these trends, but the popularity of keyboard ties is not one of them. In fact, it seemed almost inevitable when you think about it. Mugatu may have known exactly what he was doing when he invented keyboard neckties.
Music and Fashion in the Eighties
If you lived as a teenager or a young adult in the 1980s, then you know just how big music and fashion was during this era. Most of it was driven by a new TV channel called MTV, and it showed popular acts with brand new music videos. Video killed the radio star, as one song put it, and MTV made sure of it. Fashion took its cues mainly from musicians.
But what really made a difference were the digital synthesizers that were introduced during this time, and its sound would influence the decade. The synth was the main driving sound of New Wave artists, and Duran Duran, Culture Club, Depeche Mode and other synth-based groups were fighting for positions on the pop charts. The synth would even be featured in heavy metal bands, most famously as the opening notes on Van Halen’s “Jump” in 1984.
Synthesizers also gave countless teens the hope that they will be able to join a band, and that’s the kind of thing that’s always cool. But if you couldn’t be in a band, wearing keyboard neckties is the next best thing. Hey, at least it showed you were interested in music, right?
The Rise of the Nerds
Keyboard neckties were also somewhat nerdy and geeky, but the 1980s was also remembered as the time when Nerds began to grow in popularity. The movie Revenge of the Nerds in 1984 was a cultural landmark. The decade also saw the steady rise in popularity of uber-nerds such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Video and fantasy games, comic books, sci-fi—all these would become much more mainstream during this time.
Today people are still intrigued by super-smart young men who seem to lack all the social skill needed for dating. Shows like The Big Bang Theory features guys who would totally wear keyboard neckties because they think it’s cool, and not as a joke. While today keyboard neckties are still considered novelty items, at least it made wearing neckties into something that’s not always serious all the time. But if you listen to the nerds today, neckties are passé and only novelty neckties are the only ones acceptable in the hi-tech workplace.
Nerd culture today is everywhere. Playing video games for hours on end with the use gaining headsets? That used to be considered only for nerds. Going online? That used to be nerdy. Comic Con? In 1986, Captain Kirk asked nerds there if they have ever kissed a girl. Now, Comic Con is where the Hollywood execs go if they want to know what the next big blockbuster movies are. Sci-fi movies, Lord of the Rings, and comic-book characters now dominate the most successful films, and that’s because of those nerds. They’re the ones who are most likely to wear keyboard neckties, and they rule.