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Rewinding to the ultracool ’80s for a glimpse at our sleek, neon future

Now this is an aesthetic.


Luke Winkie

Internet Culture

Posted on May 9, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 7:45 pm CDT

So far in this series on top-voted Reddit posts, we’ve focused on dumb, silly stuff, including the mecca of bad design choices and a repository for the musings of woke-as-fuck 15-year-olds. Both of those are great and necessary, but one of my favorite things about Reddit is how it can occasionally scratch an itch you didn’t know existed. There are countless micro-communities scattered across this network, which means there are countless opportunities to bump into something that speaks to you.

It’s hard to describe what r/outrun aspires to be. The official description is appropriately mystic and vague: “the sub with a touch of retrofuturism, ’80s romance, ’90s nostalgia, cyberpunk, tropic highways, and thrilling nights.” To put it in more human terms, r/outrun hosts the chilly, neon, aesthetics of movies like Drive and music like Daft Punk and Kavinsky.

Let me show you what I mean.

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Feel that chill go up your spine? There’s just something kind of energizing about that purple neon, those dusky palm trees, and yeah, the burgeoning 21st-century fetishization of grainy tape quality. It’s very ’80s, but filtered through a warm, wooly, borrowed nostalgia that feels pretty nice.

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I find this gif calming.

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Who knew a low-res sunset could feel infinite? It’s a mystery of human chemistry that an entire demographic could unite around a fairly insubstantial common ground made of chunky tron grids and artificial hot rods, but it certainly does feel good.

It’s not all fan art, either. Some of my favorite posts on r/outrun focus on the few moments in real life where things feel like a vector wonderland.

Like the view from this yacht.

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Or these VHS skateboard designs.

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Or the gorgeous digital dash from the 1985 Nissan Cue-X, which suddenly has me fetishizing ’80s automobiles in a way I never expected.

For young men and women who consume a lot of fiction, it’s nice to know that the fantasy worlds that seem so much preferable to our mundane existences are actually rooted in some sort of organic inspiration. We won’t be unsatisfied forever.

Also, shout out to user AngryBeverage for his awesome, ridiculous, enormous, and hopefully-not-regrettable outrun tattoo. Let tech noir live forever.

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So that’s r/outrun—visit whenever you need that permanent dusk. Hasselhoff? Play us out.

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*First Published: May 9, 2016, 12:00 pm CDT