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Customer Review

83 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How this country got stuck in the Reagan rut, March 18, 2011
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This review is from: Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now--Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything (Hardcover)
According to David Sirota, the United States has been unable to solve its current problems due to narcissism, nostalgia for the fifties, militarism, paranoia about the government, and racial divisions which were created or became exacerbated in the eighties. Sirota believes that the eighties created an era of narcissism in which the individual counted more than the team or the nation. An example of this eighties style narcissism, that Sirota mentions, is Michael Jordan, who played for himself and not the team, and this autistic view of teamwork, was replicated in the film "Hoosiers," in which the hero of the movie goes against his coach and the team. So much attention to the self, Sirota contends, led to the cult of personality in the eighties in which people looked to celebrities or politicians on an individual basis to look for answers, and Americans gave up on the idea of collective effort in solving the problems of the nation. Due to this deification of the individual, Americans thought they could be just like the fictional Gordon Gekko or the real Micheal Milken by making millions of dollars by taking advantage of their fellow citizens. The only impediment to this Randian version of the hero from achieving his or her potential was the government in which pop culture took a dim view of in the eighties. Sirota describes how the movie "E.T." depicted government agents as being thugs out to terrorize suburbia. Sirota states that the government was seen as the problem and not the solution in television shows like the "A-Team," "Knight Rider," and movies such as "Die Hard," "Rambo," and "Lethal Weapon," in which it was okay to go rogue against the laws of the United States. While the "Ghostbusters," movies advocated the idea that private contractors and not the government could best handle the job of protecting the American people.
Sirota theorizes that the eighties were odd because although the government was distrusted the fifties and the military were worshipped. Americans wanted to go back to the fifties in movies like "Back to the Future," and ridicule and condemn the sixties and hippies in television shows such as "Family Ties," "thirtysomething," and in the movie "The Big Chill." The hippies were also blamed for the infamous "stabbed in the back," myth in which the military could have won the Vietnam War if it wasn't for the peace protesters. Based on his own childhood experience, Sirota tells how American children were militarized through video games and Pentagon approved movies like "Top Gun." The final section of the book is about how "The Cosby Show," distorted race relations in America by making whites believe that all blacks had to act like the Huxtables by transcending race and pulling themselves by their own bootstraps. I would highly recommend this book for understanding how the cultural climate of the eighties has paralyzed the American political system.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 23, 2011 1:54:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 23, 2011 2:23:05 PM PDT
drp103 says:
Here's a little bit of irony for ya:

Wasn't it Alex. P. Keaton (a.k.a. Michael J. Fox) that railed against his own political party in the 2006 Midterms when he supported the Dems. on the issue of stem cell research? Talk about internal conflicts! I wonder what Marty McFly thought on the issue?

I bet the irony was not lost on him during the election- by him I mean Mr. Fox. Don't get me wrong, I'm for the research, I just find it pretty ironic and pretty funny.

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 8:16:18 AM PDT
Good review, but if Sirota is really talking about Michael Jordan he is way off. Jordan was very much a team player and emphasized it all the time in any videos that were made of him, so Sirota apparently didn't know much about him when he was popular. For example, Jordan getting what is known as a "triple-double" in one game is a huge achievement not just because he scored, but because he helped others score. Other than the Michael Jordan thing, this book looks intriguing and somewhat disheartening since most of my favorite movies are from the 80s.

Posted on Aug 11, 2011 1:24:21 AM PDT
Kristen says:
Please use paragraphs k thanks.

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 11:43:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2011 11:12:12 AM PDT
Your review is very good and highly informative as to the nature of the book. About the only thing I might qualify is your last sentence. Rather than necessarily providing "understanding" I suspect that the book provides a "perspective" on the cultural climate of the 1980's as viewed from the left. That's certainly worth understanding.

Assuming you present Mr. Sirota's examples properly I find his examples in presenting his case problematical. As a commenter above has already mentioned, Michael Jordan always emphasized team play in his interviews - he was simply a hugely exceptional basketball player. When he played well, which was most of the time, he was bound to stand out. Sirota mentions "Top Gun" (1986) as a piece of jingoist and militarist propaganda; not long after, the same actor Tom Cruise, starred in "Born On The Fourth Of July" (1989) a very anti-war film. Both movies were well received. Top Gun was certainly classified as "light entertainment", Born On The Fourth Of July, certainly contained a political message. Which one tried harder to influence minds?

That's the problem with anecdotal evidence in an argument about "culture"; for every example there's a counter-example. Sirota over-reads events and therefore overstates his case. Frankly, the decade that continues to reverberate - mostly negatively - until this very day, is the 1960's. the 1980's were at most, a partial reaction to that turning-point decade in the history of the United States.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 8:57:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2011 8:58:04 AM PDT
HarryRfromNE says:
Your review is an example of leftist invention & straining to support your leftist bias.
Gee, it's racist if someone if a movie happens to have a Black character who's angry, "animalistic" & the other is not? The other just happens to be refined, dignified, formal, business-like - whatever.
That's racist?
Leftists keep inventing racism where it isn't.
Of course, another Rocky movie isn't hatred against Blond9es) because Dolph Lundgren is a dumb, "animalistic" boxer.
Just if the 'other' is Black.
Maybe Blond-aphobic?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2012 7:23:51 AM PST
Well put, we Boomers put narcissism and immediate gratification into politics, primarily through the Democratic Party; thus we have government run amok. Working for a living's so long run; borrow and spend is TODAY! Steve Jobs? Takes too long. Barney Frank and pals printing money? THAT's what we're talking about!

Mr. Sirata, as does the entire "progressive" movement, adopt immediate gratification, won't acknowledge their self-anointed superiority over we the great unwashed, and give a pass to the gross abuse of government power unleashed since the 60's.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 8:19:12 PM PST
D. Schultz says:
Sirota makes stuff up as he goes. Life is terrible in the modern world, he should time warp back to the dark ages, where all the stupid stuff he whines about, like the Military-Entertainment Complex...surely don't exist, and he would be happy. And wishing he were back in modern America in about 30 seconds.
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