83 of 96 people found the following review helpful
How this country got stuck in the Reagan rut
, March 18, 2011
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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