Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City is the story of a young writer and fact checker, who works for one of the most prestigious magazines in New York City. On the surface, he has a great life, a happy marriage and an enjoyable job, but in reality he is a heavy cocaine user, party goer and is reeling from the fact that his model wife Amanda has recently left him.

Definitely one of my favorite members of the literary Brat Pack, Jay McInerney is well known for having lived and partied with the best of them through New York's hedonistic 80s. Through his 1984 novel, he explores the glossy fa├žade of the city that never sleeps and delves deeper in to the culture of hedonism and fun that ultimately could never last. While his contemporaries, Bret Easton Ellis being the best example, also explored the double edged sword that was being a successful young white man in New York City, and the danger that having a huge and very disposable income can bring.

When thinking about yuppies I usually image a Charlie Sheen-style blue shirt/red suspenders look, but the 1988 film version subverts that, and makes Michael J. Fox the centre of this morally bankrupt world. It was received fairly well by critics, although some found the minimalist style of the screen play a little boring, completely missing the point of McInerney's novel.

I think that rather than being about greed and Wall Street the novel is more concerned with escapism - Jamie Conway, the main character, hates his life and the excesses he see's around him but also finds the drugs and partying a good way for him to forget his troubles.

ThirtySomething - Telivision and the Yuppy

This 1980s sitcom televises the yuppy and depicts a subculture within everyday life in the form of a soap style telivision show. The cast and characters are seen as young, upwardly mobile professionals with families. Set in Philadelphia, Mike runs an advertising company with his best friend. They are the types of men who earn a great amount of money within their profession and are able to sustain professional, expensive lifestyles, which they and their families have grown accustomed to. The characters are represenatational of a formal identity beginning to arise, particularly in New York. A sect of society which many people were striving to become a part of. The Yuppy Culture.
This programme actually focusses a great deal on difficulties within relationships and with raising children. Something which realistically has not been covered on telivision before. The show covers an affair between two of the main characters, which is not a new problem within relationships, but was new to telivision. After many 50s sitcoms surrounding the perfectness of family life in suburbia, the yuppy is arguably a counterweight to that lifestyle and something which people can aspire to as professionals, particularly when focussed on women and the role of a housewife and mother.

Diary of a Yuppie


The above article was written for the New York Times on August 31st 1986 by John Jay Osborn Jr and is a review of Louis Auchincloss’ book titled Diary of a Yuppie which was published in 1986.

Apart from the obvious mention in the title, the book represents yuppies because the main character is one, as he is a lawyer who is eager to succeed and reach the top of his profession. The fact that the main character, Robert Service is willing to do whatever it takes in order to fulfill his ambition, is shown by the following quote from the book. “Partnership has been my sole goal, you might even call it my obsession – throughout eight years of driving work, including most weeknights and many weekends.”

The book however, instead of focusing on how the character gets to the top, and the rewards he gets as a result, portrays the morals surrounding Robert Service’s rise, and the effect it had on the people around him, such as the rivals he bought out or his employees who he ruthlessly takes advantage of. Osborn deals with this in his review when he says that “These characters explicitly deal with issues such as the difference between family values and business values, responsibility to self versus responsibility to others and the constraints that friendship imposes on ambition. They are given to intelligent self-examination and are concerned with how well they did something, not how well they did. “ By saying this, Osborn is showing the flaws the yuppie way of life can have, if taken too seriously and that although there are rewards to being successful, there can also be problems as a result.

In conclusion, the representation of yuppies in diary of a yuppie is largely negative and is similar to the character of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. This is because the negative side of the lifestyle is portrayed, as an overwhelming desire for success could have an adverse effect through the loss of morals.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Yuppie Handbook

This is the front cover of a book, The Yuppie Handbook, which was published in 1984 and was a
guide to all things “yuppie”. The image of the typical yuppie couple encapsulates the lifestyle of these young professionals which was all about having the latest designer clothes and
accessories, the right apartment furnished with all the gadgets you could think
of, most of which were never used as they would be working long hours and never
home. To be seen in the right places and with the right people was also important.
The book contains some interesting chapters, such as “Yuppie role models”, “Yup and away: A Yuppie vacation guide and “What shall we name the Yuppie baby?” and these suggest to me that it was important to follow the crowd and to fit in, rather than to be an individual and forge your own path. This goes against the idea of freedom and individuality, the cornerstones of the American way of life and whilst thenotion of the American Dream is represented here in terms of the material wealth and consumption of this group of people, it also suggests an erosion of the
idea of hard work to achieve this dream, turning instead to a “get rich quick” ethos where it is success at all costs.

Movies of the period, such as Wall Street, Secret of my Success and Working Girl all focused on
individuals who aspire to the wealth, power and influence that they see as the pinnacle of achievement but who also have to make personal sacrifices in order to achieve this. The reality of the yuppie lifestyle was that it was not sustainable long term, with an unstable economic background and the eventual realisation by many that the pursuit of the ‘Almighty dollar’ does not bring happiness.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adolf Reagan

http://www.hivplusmag.com/NewsStory.asp?id=22117&sd=02/07/2011 July 6th, 2004.

The article I have chosen to look at was written two days after Ronald Reagan's death.

"Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the
entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even."

This quote is the opening of the article and as you can see the writer (who has not been identified) has some very strong and hate-filled feelings about Reagan. Calling someone a murderer is a very bold comment.

The writer of article describes how they were writing a long peice of work The American People. They describe how he thinks Ronald Reagan was not for the people especially gays and therefore all he did was murder the American people and gays and has been compared to Adolf Hitler. The writer goes on to say the Gays were as hated under Reagan as Jews were under Hitler.

A theory given for this gay hatred was that Ronald Reagan Jr. was suspected of being gay. In his freshman year at Yale there were rumours that he had numerous gay experiences. And just as damning of the son’s reputation, of course, because it could not be hidden, was that Ron Reagan, Jr. was a ballet dancer. This did not look good and was obviously exceedingly embarrassing to a father who rode so many horses. So off with the tutu and on with a wedding ring. Junior was married off and sent to far-off places in positions of low visibility.

Before reading this article I knew very little about Reagan's personal life and had not come across this so-called "hatred for gays". The writer says that Reagan did not even say the word "AIDS" until seven years into his reign. The writer says " Because of this, some 70 million people, so far, have become infected with HIV/AIDS. I wonder what it feels like to be the son and the wife of a man responsible for over 70 million people so far becoming infected with a virus that has killed over half of us so far. I wonder what it felt like while he was alive to ponder this."
This shows that the writer blames Ronald Reagan for the death of gays and in many senses were not seen as first class citizens. It is interesting that this article is written in 2004, years after he was president and yet the writer still has the same opinion. It is notable however, that personally I have never seen any other similar points of view and no other articles written about the same issue.

pursuit of Reaganism


i watched the Pursuit of Happyness when it came out and it struck me as a very direct statement of the possibilities within America, with the achievement of these dreams coming from hard work and individual drive to make yourself stand out among the crowd.

On later reflection what i found to be a negative reflection of those times, (within the 1980's where it is set) yet a positive reflection of its policies, and Reaganite ideals came through, excel in your endeavours, create your own opportunities, do what you have to to do what you want to. Chris Gardener (will Smith) resembles this very much so, with his ambitions, his forward nature and his endless work ethic.

The job centre in which gardener works is that of wall street and the stock market, a classic pillar of Reagan's era, with big business and high points of trade during the period, it is painted as a very accepting and progressive work place to those with characteristics such as Chris Gardener, and inspires me to feel that success is a choice of your attitude and desire, rather than that of luck, greed and social background, which is a criticism made by other films, this film remains agreeable with the former president Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ronald Reagan was a pretty great President.

This article posted in early 2010 with the title "Why was Ronald Reagan the Greatest President of the 20th Century?" which clearly puts the stance of this article on the idea that Reagan was a successful, well liked President.

The article details the fact Reagan may not have had a huge impact as other Presidents such as Wilson and Roosevelt, but mostly his impact on the United States was positive, where he successfully "won" the Cold War, and revived the American economy.

It continues to say that Reagan had three parts to his genius, the first being that he was a visionary. He was on the of the few Presidents that, no matter what he did he was moving towards the direction of more freedom and less government. In a way he was doing something that no other President would do, which was give more freedom to the people.

The second part, was that Reagan had character unparalleled to. Whenever troubled rose during his presidency, Reagan would not look to polls, but rather stand by his set of ideas, and went about things with courage and kindness. The articles cites a couple of critics saying that Reagan "had changed the world and had done so with candor and honesty."

Finally the third part that considers Reagan one of the best presidents, was that he was teachable. With this trait, it seemed that Reagan, once President saw the downside of his earlier beliefs. He could see that the federal government was overbearing, and he strived to reduce it down. He could see the problems previous Presidents tried to solve, and worked towards a solution that would benefit the country, not just the Government.

Reagan brought the United States out of an economic disaster and allowed more freedom to the people more than they had in previous decades. In a way Reagan revived the United States and ushered in a prosperous period of time.

Ronald Reagan, Worst President Ever?


This article paints a rather negative image of the Reagan Presidency, suggesting it worse than George W. Bush's and the pre-civil war president James Buchanan's presidencies, and this is at a time, in 2009, when the majority of public opinion of Bush was negative following the end of his presidency and the beginning Barack Obama's presidency. This contemporary hatred of Reagan looks at the current issues and crises America is experiencing today such as the economic crisis and the threat of terror and how they can all be traced back to Reagan's presidency.

Robert Parry compares Reagan's presidency to his three predecessors; Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Parry argues they deserve more credit for their attempts at tackling the problems that now effect America, and that all Reagan did was sabotage any sustained progress the three previous presidents had made. This idea that Reagan is to blame for many of America's issues and crises would stir much hatred from Americans towards Reagan and his presidency. In his article Parry describes Reagan's as being this 'pied piper' who lured 'the American people away from the tough choices that Nixon, Ford and Carter defined.' This comparison of Reagan to this evil fairytale character who was hated for luring all the children away from a village suggests Reagan is hated by Parry for luring the American people away from making tough decisions that could have had a positive effect on the issues that surround America today.

A second reason Parry outlines as to why Reagan is the worst president ever is that contrary to popular belief, Reagan did not win the cold war for America, but that it had been won long before Reagan became president. Parry argues that in the early 1980’s at the beginning of his presidency, Reagan insisted the Soviet Union was surging towards world supremacy, however, Parry’s sources in the CIA suggest at this time the Soviet Union was heading towards collapse.

For Parry, Reagan's failings as a president put him as one of the worst, if not thee worst president of all time, and his argument that Reagan stopped all progress previous presidents had made which is still effecting America to this day would suggest a strong dislike of Reagan, painting him as this evil character.

Celebrating Ronald Reagan


Despite controversy, Ronald Reagan was a very 'American' President, one who is celebrated greatly by American people, particularly those from a Republican background. This description may not be particularly possitive or negative, but it does describe Reagan's character and summarise him within politics and personality. Reagan became President in the 1980s after a time of financial instability, war and recession, not unlike that of which we have seen in recent years. In 1981, soon after coming into office he was shot, but quickly recovered and returned to his duties. This may have been a turning point in his support and popularity. People felt for him and his family at a time of personal attack and rallied around their President in a way America does so quite remarkably. When crisis occours, it brings American people together. The economy began to recover under Reagan and this also was an aspect which made him hugely popular at the time, with the creation of jobs and boost in the economy, Reagan was very much able to take credit for this fortune. Many would also praise Reagan's strength in dealing with the Soviet Union and his efforts in Foreign Policy, despite controversy, he was a President who sought power and peace through strenth and a military force. This however is very much a Republican issue.

This website advertises a celebratory conference of Reagan's Presidency and Politics in commemoration of what would be his 100th Birthday in 2011, this was held in New Orleans. The location is something to be aware of as it is in the South, and a very Republican state. Many Americans are very keen to celebrate Reagan as a President and as an America.

Putting a Stake in Reagan Hagiography

'Puts a stake in Reagan Hagiography. One of the worst presidents in history' was the caption that accompanied this cartoon on a social networking website. Twenty three years since he was in office, and eight years since he died, clearly Ronald Reagan still elicits strong reactions - both positive and negative - from the general public.

The cartoon itself entitled 'Remembering Reagan' is by satirical cartoonist Kirk Anderson, and is a heavily ironic piece that takes a dig at Reagan hagiography, and attempts to expose Reagan for what he really was. It bitterly mocks those who celebrate Reagan as a saint by stating that people were  tricked by Reagan as a man and an administration who smiled to their faces, whilst picking their pockets. More than anything, in his cartoon Anderson expresses the idea of Reagan as an 'actor'.

 At the time of his election in 1980, and still in the hangover from the Vietnam War, America needed a 'sunshine' president. Someone they could trust to bring hope and prosperity back to their shores. Before he ran for office Reagan had been an actor, starring in a number of films and acting as president of the Screen Actor's Guild. He was known for his charisma and his one liners. By the end of his time as president Reagan had been nicknamed 'The Great Communicator' and his style and image 'endeared him to a great number of people.' However he was also nicknamed 'The Teflon President' and famously known for his 'ability to do almost anything and not get blamed for it', perhaps leading to why he was voted the greatest president in history in a Gallup poll of 2001.

Was it all an act though? Kirk Anderson seems to think so. Either way, the majority of the audience gave a standing ovation - while Anderson stayed seated, laughed at them, and waited for Reagan to leave the theatre.

Ronald Reagan: The Bad and the Ugly


Ronald Reagan’s death, as with the death of any president, prompted the question of how he’d be considered within history. The present proximity of his life and his presidency produce an impartial answer to this question tough, but the positive likelihood is that he will ultimately be regarded one of the best presidents in American history.
The article I selected was written during the week of his passing, and the writer heavily criticises Reagan’s time in the White House. The title “The Bad and the Ugly” implies that there are only negative things to say about what Reagan did for his country. Starting with Reagan’s economic policy “Reaganomics” which was prompted by him during the 80s, the blogger mocks his four pillars of Reagan’s economic policy. These were: reducing government spending increase, reduce income tax and capital gains tax, reduce government regulation of economy and control money supple to reduce inflation. Although he believed to have a clear vision for this system, the plan eventually flopped because to endorse these objectives there would have been a reduction in the budgets for entitlement programs which could be considered “political suicide.”
Whilst I can concur with some of the above points, I have to disagree with the mental health system act. Reagan did not kick mentally people out on the street. The Medicare system has been a struggle for most Presidents; the article only scrutinizes Reagan for this but he is not unique in being unable to tackle one of the many complex problems in America. 

The majority of Americans believe Reagan to be a man of principle, regardless of what else the minority may think of him. The article displays examples of how he acted on his principles and that he had a principled ideology but neglected to follow through.

The Cultural Legacy of Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan's presidency remains a hugely sensitive topic in American politics; to the Republicans he was the ideal, an excellent communicator, a genius economist, but to many Democrats and Liberals he was the perfect example of a president who failed to help the toiling working class and homeless, who not only failed to tackle the crack epidemic that ruined many of America's largest cities, but, according to some, simply did not care.

As controversial as his scandal laden Presidency was, Republicans still hold a very special place for Reagan in their hearts. In an article I found on USAtoday.com a columnist describes Reagan as 'The Great Communicator' and discusses how his oratory skills meant that even if he wasn't the greatest president ever, he was certainly one of the best of the 20th century. The writer, Chuck Raasch, compares him to all-time great Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also an excellent speaker, and to John Francis Kennedy, the most culturally significant president ever. Raasch therefore implies that regardless of his presidency his ability to communicate meant he was well liked, a 'national grandfather figure' for a lost generation out of work and in need of money.

While I agree that yes, an ability to create memorable speeches and to connect with voters is a key factor in having a successful, good legacy, Chuck Raasch seems to completely ignore the perils of the Reagan administration in favour of painting him as some sort of vibrant Republican cowboy, fresh from the lots of Hollywood to lead America away from the economic misery that dominated the early 80s. He does make reference to the fact that Reagan's approval ratings were not as high as some would imagine, but instead he chalks it up to Americans of the time not realising what a special rarity Reagan was.


A link to “Don't add Reagan's face to Mount Rushmore” by Dr. Dreier on April 3, 2011

This is a recent article written after his death and coinciding with what would be his 100th birthday.  The article criticises Reagan in response to an upheaval of praise following the anniversary and puts the blame and him and his Reaganomics for the current financial crisis in America.   The article discredits his undeserved reputation as one of Americas most loved Presidents and shines a light on the real, negative aspects of his regime.  People credit his regime with American economic prosperity where in fact it was only for the wealthy as the number of people under the poverty line rose from ‘26.1 million in 1979 to 32.7 million in 1988’ as the minimum wage was frozen at £3.35 an hour as prices went up, whereas the richest 1% of Americans had 39% of the nation’s wealth. Whilst the rich flourished homelessness increased and by the late 80s there were ‘600,000 on any given night’.  The neglect of the poor in favour of wealth was seen as the federal government was left to bail out depositors whose money speculators had looted to the tune of more than $130 billion.’ Whereas federal assistance to local governments was cut by 60 percent, there were cuts to funding for public-service jobs and training and the budget for public housing was cut in half, which all together cut the living standards for working families and communities. The decade of the 80s is seen as one of greed, which corresponds to the regime with its environment of corruption from the Iraq-contra affair and the scandal at Housing and Urban Development.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ronald Reagan Hatred


The link above is for an article on Slate.com labelled "Not Even a Hedgehog-The stupidity of Ronald Reagan" which was posted June 7, 2004. 

From the date you can see that this article was posted just a couple days after Reagan past away, after suffering with Alzheimer's disease. The author of this article talks about how he had been invited to be the Spector at the feast during "Ronald Reagan Appreciation Week" at Wabash College in Indiana. He writes that he agreed with his opponents in that he was glad to see the end of the Russian Empire and the Cold War but nothing could deter him from what the Ronald Reagan presidency had been like. And from then on, it is clear from what he writes that he was against the Reagan presidency and Republicans in general. 

He goes on to list numerous, of what he would call "faults" with Reagan's presidency from how Reagan had sold heavy weapons to the Iranian mullahs and lied about it, saying that all weapons he hadn't sold them would, all the same, have fit on a small truck. To how Reagan claimed that the russian language had no word for "freedom", when in fact the word is "svoboda". The list goes on and on, until he stops writing about the flaws in Reagan's presidency and starts to simply list flaws in him and moan about Ronald Reagan in general. This is where the title of the article comes into play, the author states that The "fox" as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing and that Ronald Reagan was neither of them. He was "as dumb as a stump". But the writer does not stop there, he goes on to say that he can't understand how such a smart country would put up with "such an obvious phony and loon".

It is clear from the article that the writer disapproved of the Ronald Reagan Presidency and you could in fact say he hated Ronald Reagan. But not only does he express his hatred for Reagan, he also talks about the "stupidity of American Politics" and in particular, he voices his opinion about the stupidity of Republicans. In conclusion, this article is a clear representation of Ronald Reagan hatred that still stands today in contemporary America and even after Reagan has passed away.

Love Reagan? Study at Eureka


This is the website for Reagan’s former college – Eureka –in Illinois. This part of the college
website celebrates the anniversary of what would have been his 100th birthday in 2011 and quite clearly looks to cash in on the most famous of their former students in an effort to attract new ones.

There is the suggestion that all of the activities that Reagan was involved in whilst at Eureka, such as football and acting, contributed to his skill as a leader, but as politics was not his first choice of career, that is debatable. It seems more likely that they prepared him for his careers as a sports announcer and an actor rather than for the Presidency of the United States. They would also fulfil his need for approval and applause. What the video suggests is that he fitted in with everyone he came into contact with and this does tie in with his political image of someone that the American public could relate to – delivering his speeches in a relaxed and informal style which appealed to the voters. They also refer to his major achievement, the ending of the Cold War by including a clip of a speech given in front of the Berlin Wall.

This website is a shrine to Reagan and his life and suggests itself as “a living legacy” to the former president. It uses every opportunity to reinforce the College’s links with Reagan, listing his visits and donations and has even given Nancy Reagan an honorary doctorate. I am sure
that as now Reagan is rated highly amongst the rankings of Presidents, with one site listing him as high as 11th – mainly in recognition of his ending of the Cold War – Eureka College is able to attract students keen to emulate Reagan’s success, probably though, more Republican students than Democrat.

Reagan Hatred


The above article is from the Consortium News and was created on June 3rd 2009 by Robert Parry.

As 2009 marked the year after George W Bush’s Presidency, there were many articles and reports which stated that his eight years was the worst Presidential term ever. Rick Parry’s article therefore is a direct response to those opinions and argues instead that Ronald Reagan was worst, going against the conventional view that he was one of the better Presidents, This is shown by the Siena Institute 2010 Presidential Rankings in which Ronald Reagan is rated 18th overall.

This article is a clear example of Reagan hatred as Parry gives no consideration to the opposing view, or even that there were positives during Reagan’s Presidency. Instead he argues that Reagan’s Presidency is to blame for the current decline of America due to many of his policies, such as economic and environmental. One of the main points which Parry makes is that the three Presidents immediately before Reagan, Nixon, Ford and Carter who are generally rated as among the worst Presidents actually did a better job than they are given credit for. This is shown by the following quote. “Nixon, Ford and Carter won scant praise for addressing the systemic challenges of America’s oil dependence, environmental degradation, the arms race, and nuclear proliferation, all issues that Reagan essentially ignored and that now threaten America’s future." This shows that Parry feels that because Reagan did not deal with many of the problems his Presidency faced, such as the oil situation and dictators in other countries, America is now suffering as a result. Although this could be seen as a valid view, by saying this Parry is not blaming any of the seven Presidents which followed Reagan’s Presidency for not dealing with those problems and instead is just criticising Reagan. This therefore seems unfair and suggests that the author has some kind of personal animosity towards Reagan.

Finally, another way in which Robert Parry has criticised Reagan’s Presidency is that it inspired George W Bush, who is considered one of the worst Presidents. This is shown in the following quote “Ironically, George W. Bush has come in for savage criticism, but the Republican leader who inspired Bush’s presidency Ronald Reagan remained an honored figure, his name attached to scores of national landmarks including Washington’s National Airport.” This is a very unfair view as if Reagan was to be labelled the worst President, it should be because his policies and performance were poor, as opposed to him just inspiring someone who turned out to be a poor President.

In conclusion although Parry does make some valid points in his article, in particular the fact that the Presidents before him contributed towards many of the successes which Reagan is credited for, such as the ending of the Cold War, most of his other points are unfair. This is because many are not related to his performance as President and therefore Reagan had no control over them such as inspiring George W Bush. As a result the overall article is an unfair criticism of Reagan and seems to indicate that the author has personal hatred towards him as opposed to feeling that his performance as President was poor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ronald Reagan

Reagan was the 40th president of the US, and was the face of the 1980's serving from 1981 to 1989. Reagan ranks highly in most popular presidents.

At the end of his two terms in office, Ronald Reagan viewed with satisfaction the achievements of his innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. He felt he had fulfilled his campaign pledge of 1980 to restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism."

Ronald Reagan won the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 and chose as his running mate former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador George Bush. Voters troubled by inflation and by the year-long confinement of Americans in Iran swept the Republican ticket into office. Reagan won 489 electoral votes to 49 for President Jimmy Carter.

On January 20, 1981, Reagan took office. Only 69 days later he was shot by a would-be assassin, but quickly recovered and returned to duty. His grace and wit during the dangerous incident caused his popularity to soar.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Madonna and the 1980's

Madonna rose to fame in the 1980’s and became an icon of music and fashion in this decade. This image alone represents the ideology in America during this time which was the idea that the more you had the more successful you were, evident in the image of the yuppie during the 1980’s which described the group of young successful middle-class people in society who worked in executive type positions and desired the good life. This picture of Madonna shows her with big hair, big earrings, lots of bracelets and lots of make-up, everything she is wearing is in excess.

Madonna’s style during the 1980’s has become viewed as iconic of this era and her style is seen as being a pioneer of a signature 80’s look. This was all possible because of the unveiling of the new television channel MTV. People were now able to not just listen to music but they could see it which meant the artist was able to convey an image.

"Who shot J.R?"

This picture represents an iconic moment in one the most popular TV shows in the US in the 1980s, it is a picture of  J.R Ewling from the hit TV show Dallas which had it's greatest success in 1980 with the famous storyline of "Who shot J.R?". The TV show was set in Dallas and chronicled the lives of wealthy Texas oil millionaires. It started in 1978 when it made it's debut on CBS and could be seen as one of the first shows that dealt with the big ideas of life. However, I don't think anyone, including the writers and producers themselves, expected the show to be such a huge success and create such a phenomenon. 

What really made the show and created such a buzz was the storyline of "Who shot J.R?". This was the famous cliffhanger which started on march 21st, 1980 when viewers watched as an unknown suspect shot J.R. This was made the season finale, and viewers had to wait until November 21st 1980 to find out who pulled the trigger. The reason viewers had to wait so long was simply because the actor went on strike, and seeing the huge success of the storyline the actor who played J.R(Larry Hagman) saw it as an opportunity to ask for more money. But this cliffhanger storyline made Dallas into the hottest American primetime series of the time. With the episode revealing the shooter reeling in over 90 million american viewers and 360 million viewers worldwide tuning in to find out who shot JR.

When looking through the events of the 1980s in America, this TV show and storyline in particular was, for millions of people across the world, the most important news at the time. Despite the global events going on in that era, the classic "Who done it" storyline captivated the worlds attention and made American history. It created a pop culture with "Who Shot J.R?" T-shirts and bets laid out for who the culprit could be, but the producers kept everyone guessing, including the cast and crew with each of them being filmed shooting J.R. This storyline created a frenzy and made news across the globe, and it is for this reason I think this moment in the US in 1980s was one of the most iconic moments. A simple TV show took over the world, created a new culture of TV shows and left everyone with the burning question of Who Shot J.R?          

Time Travel in Style...

"Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"
1985 brought us Back to the Future, the 80s were jam packed with iconic movies, presenting us with style, culture and music and Molly Ringwald. Teen movies shaped the 80s, being a more accessable form of media for young people with more time and disposable income than ever before. Back to the Future presents the unlikely hero, Marty McFly and a mad Scientist forming an unusual friendship. Marty travels back to the 1950s in a plutonium powered DeLorean, mistakenly unacompanied by the doc, he ends up at his own High School 30 years before and meets his own parents at his age. He must make sure his parents meet each other enabling him to get back to the future and exist...
This film presents us with an iconic 80s style and a sense of adventure, Michael J Fox takes on the Springsteen image which so many teenagers did at the time. But he's also a hero, and there's really nothing America loves more than a 'normal' teenage boy saving the day, fighting the bullys and conquering the laws of physics enabling him to travel through time in a really cool car. Especially when he's dressed like Bruce Springsteen, the tight levis, double denim and high tops styled High Schools for not only a decade, but remain in youth fashion today. We are surrounded by 80s influenced style, often without even realising it, the 80s is such an influential decade, leaving us with Springsteen and Madonna as our style icons and arguably the King and Queen of 'cool'.

Kid's Cartoons and Consumerism.

An icon of the 80s to me is He-Man and the Masters of The Universe, and other such animated cartoon series that were broadcast to many shaping many children's play times and imaginations.

The 80's saw a huge array of animated television series, with imported dubbed cartoons from Japan becoming increasingly popular such as Votron, Battle of The Planets and Dragonball Z. With influences from around the world, cartoons such as He-Man, Thundercats and Mask became hugely successful, spanning multiple series, and quite extensive toy lines that no child could go without.

It would be a mistake not to create a franchise that can be bought into. With lunch boxes, clothing, action figures, costumes, key rings and god knows what else. This brought consumerism to front, with parents buying their feverish children their favourite hero and his super rocket car with fold out wings. With the United States coming to an end with the Cold war, the cartoon series usually focused on ordinary people becoming a super hero type of figure fighting the ultimate evil and usually defeating him every week. This could reflect on American's mentality at the time, where they felt triumphant against the Soviet nation and averted a larger conflict.

The 80's cartoon series continue to be popular to this day, with reboots and re-releases of popular franchises, such as Transformers, and its never ending cartoon series and popular film trilogy. Maybe America is heading for a similar mindset with good being victorious over evil, or maybe they are harking back to a simpler time.

Born in the USA

The 1980's in America was a decade of great contrast, and the cover of Bruce Springsteen's album is an image that greatly represents this.

Immediately iconic, the blue jeans, the white t-shirt, and the baseball cap, in front of the red and white stripes, are typical American ideological symbols. At first, this, combined with the album's title appear to proclaim a fervent patriotism, and the album's release in 1984 makes this especially poignant. The summer of 1984 saw both the Olympic games - and it's 'flag waving patriotism' - take place in Los Angeles, and the beginning of Reagan's campaign for a second term as president. Reagan's campaign saw the dawn of 'uber patriotic' tv adverts that 'idealized American life' and proclaimed that under Reagan it would be 'Morning in America' again. Reagan and his team believed that this patriotism was what Sprignsteen's album was all about, and as a result he attempted to adopt Springsteen and his music as a sign of his campaign. The blue jeans, the white t shirts and Springsteen's raucous voice screaming 'I was born in the USA!' on the album's title track were everything his campaign attempted to pervay, and reach out to.

However, Reagan completely missed the point. Much like his campaign glossed over much of American reality, Springsteen's Born in the USA was not a celebration of patriotism but completely the opposite. The album's title track is once again the greatest example of this and although the song is upbeat and the chorus proclaims how the song's narrator was 'born in the usa' with gusto, it is steeped in irony, and the song is in fact about a downbeat, downtrodden and unappreciated Vietnam veteran, unloved and out of love with the country he once called home. In reply to Reagan's attempt to adopt him for his campaign Springsteen refused, stating ''Reagan's ads proclaim 'It's morning in America.' Well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh.''

The image of Springsteen's Born in the USA is much more than an album cover, it is a presentation of America in the 1980's and the contrast between the beliefs and hopes of it's people. On one hand there was the blue jeans, white t shirts, and stars and stripes of Reagan's brand of masculine patriotism. However, beneath that, there lay Springsteen's much darker realism of closed factories and disillusioned Vietnam vets, and a fading of the American dream that would be everpresent beneath the surface, throughout the decade.

The phenomenon of Hip hop culture is what most clearly comes to mind when i think of 80's America. The birth of the numerous styles of artistic expression that are used within this culture may have been derived from the 70's however the adoption of it throughout American cities, especially within urban areas is predominantly an early 80's movement. The four aspects to Hip hop are all art based, Graffiti which is a personal expression in the form of paintwork, usually applied on a public space such as a subway car or wall, the colours used within the artwork where vibrant and bold, a feature that coincided with the art world, with pop art, geometric design and video techniques as popular statements.

Rap is the vocal delivery of rhythmic phrases, which often comment on the person’s lifestyle and actions, these were taken from artists such as James Brown and Gil Scott Heron who spoke of cultural dilemmas often to do with race and social problems.

Djing is the blending of selected parts of songs that have a uniquely strong funk or drum sections, it was used to bring together many communities with a style that was meant to break from the stereotypical pop music of the time, and finally Breaking is the dance that compliments this musical style, full of acrobatic moves and clever body moves that emphasize flexibility and complete body control.

These aspects are not necessarily what most represent America of the 80’s, it is the ethos behind the culture that most captures the essence of the time, ‘Battling’. The way that individuals progress in each art form is through comparing one to another, and so the attitude of ‘beat the next man’ to become the dominant force. This is not dissimilar from Capitalist business in the 80’s, a Reaganite ideal both in Business and in American subculture. This attitude has lead both America to become the greatest economic power in the last 30 years, but it has also lead Hip hop music to become the fastest growing musical movement in the same time, as well as becoming a major influential movement within popular culture, sales, marketing and sport.
Iconic Movies of 80's
Throughout the 80's era there were many iconic movies that represented societies views and thoughts on different issues. The decade of the 1980s tended to consolidate the gains made in the seventies rather than to initiate any new trends. These movies that characterised the previous decade. They were designed and packaged for mass audience appeal, many 80s films became what could be called 'classics'.
The Breakfast Club first arrived on our screens in 1985. The storyline consists of five high school students, all different stereotypes who meet in detention where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. John Hughes wrote and directed this film and many other iconic films in the 80s. It is debated that Hughes invented the era of "teen comedies" which best represented the youth of that era. The Breakfast Club featured everyone of the era together in a masterful representation of angst and truth. However, it is worth noting that in the main five characters there were no different ethnic races and all the teenagers were white and seemed to be middle class or upper class.
As with any significant iconic era, Hollywood and movie making can show the changes and/or the similarities to different eras. The 80s had a huge amount of popular "teen comedies" and such as The Goonies. These were aimed at teenagers across the entire country and were enjoyed globally. This shows why movies such as The Breakfast Club have been remembered.
Finally, a large reason for choosing this topic was the representation of teenagers. The movie shows that different stereotypes can get along in society. In my opinion this is a metaphor for the coming years with different races, genders and sexualities coming together as one and not having prejudices against each other.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1980s image

During the 1980s the power of television was increased due to the popularity of cable, which allowed more channels to be created, offering more specific programming. Examples include the music channel MTV which was first broadcast on 1 August 1981, sports network ESPN which started in 1979 but became popular in the 1980s and the news network CNN. The Cable News Network was the first twenty four hour news network and was founded by Ted Turner. It started broadcasting on June 1, 1980.

CNN represented a huge change in the way news was broadcast to the American public as due to its live reports and breaking news Americans were able to watch the main stories of the day unfold as opposed to having to wait for a short specific news programme at the end of the day.

CNN is iconic of the 1980s as it is connected to the major news stories of the decade. This is due to it being the medium by which many Americans first found out about the major news events due to the live news reports. An example of this was the Challenger shuttle disaster on January 28th 1986 in which the space shuttle exploded shortly after lift-off. Due to CNN being dedicated to news, it was able to broadcast exclusive live coverage of the event making it an even more poignant moment as it was one of the first times that the American public had viewed a tragic story unfolding live.

CNN was therefore a vital component of the 1980s as by giving Americans the ability to watch major events developing live, it increased the effect the stories had. This means that if CNN had not been created then the main news stories of the 1980s would not have been as memorable or shocking.

Although CNN is still a popular news channel, I feel it remains an iconic symbol of the 1980s as it was an original and exciting project at that time, which allowed news stories to be reported in a more informative and different way, as well as being the start of numerous technological advances which the 1980s would witness.

Iconic 80s image

I have chosen President Ronald Reagan for my iconic image of the 1980s. He was regarded as one of the greatest American Presidents of all time and the key inspiration for the conservative movement from the 70s to the present. No other president of the 20th century had a more affirmative and lasting influence than Reagan. Initially he started out as governor of California and never considered himself politician material. Upon his journey to the White House, his reasons for Presidency were not fuelled by intense lust for power of position. Reagan wanted people to perceive him as a simple citizen who had been called upon to come to the support of his country he so dearly loved. He saw his task as releasing his fellow citizens from the rules of a brutal federal government, and to rid the world of the oppression of Communism. In doing so, he shocked the Soviet Union with his harsh rhetoric, brandishing it an “evil empire” and was determined to abolish communism and the Soviet Union.
He won the Cold War and also recovered the American economy from decades of abuse. He had tremendous character, which in the eyes of America’s founders, character was a crucial ingredient for greatness. He represented a set of ideals, and when trouble came he looked not to polls but instead he applied courage, perseverance and kindness to accomplish his goal. 
Reagent regarded the promise of the America Dream crucial to the development and growth of the nation. During the time of increasing cynicism he noted America to be a place where “everyone can rise as high and far as his ability will take him.”
Toward the end of his presidency, he was acclaimed to have changed the world and had done so with honesty and morality. His capability to flee accountability for the mistakes and faults of those around him led to his being called the Teflon president - nothing would stick to him. Time and time again polls showed that whilst Americans did not always share Reagan’s opinions on any number of matters, and frequently questioned his aptitude for the job, they nevertheless reinforced his dedicated willpower to achieve the goals he held most dear.

Greed is good - the yuppie era

I have chosen this image from the 1987 movie, Wall Street as a good representation of the 1980’s. The image of the yuppie businessman with greased back hair, power suit, braces and flashy jewellery sums up an era when money was all powerful and the pursuit of it became all consuming. The film depicts the decadent lifestyle that could be achieved by those prepared to work 70 hours a week – accumulating wealth and being seen in all the right places with the right people. The yuppie lifestyle was criticised as flashy and shallow but many twenty-somethings of the time aspired to this way of life – influenced by the latest fads and crazes.

This was an era of boom and bust with the crash of the stockmarket in 1987 and the following recession. The rise and fall of Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen also provides a warning note that greed and ambition bring consequences, as he ends up in jail, but the benefits of capitalism are continually displayed. “Greed is good” is the famous line said by Michael Douglas’s character, Gordon Gecko, which is a good description of the period.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weird Science and the second coming of the American teenager

My image is the film poster for the 1985 teen comedy, Weird Science. Written and directed by one of the best loved filmmakers of the 80s, John Hughes, the film chronicles the high jinx of two suburban best friends and nerds, Gary and Wyatt, as they try to turn the tide of their woeful love lives by creating a virtual perfect woman - a computer age Frankenstein. With help from perfectly timed lighting and the suspension of disbelief, the boys manage to bring a Barbie doll to real, fantastically voluptuous, real life.

As a huge John Hughes fan I am aware that this is not one of his finest films, or even his funniest, but it is very useful to anyone studying the 80s. The 80s was a time of great change for many reasons, especially in the habits and interests of the average American; even with the threat of mutually assured destruction that the Cold War brought, the effects of Reaganomics had breathed new life in to a spluttering economy, giving people a sense of confidence they had not felt since the optimistic early 60s.

As with any time of significant change, Hollywood can be used as a yardstick to measure the interests of the wider population, as a means of seeing what the average person wanted, feared, admired. The 80s saw a huge amount of popular, and successful teen comedies, aimed at the suburban adolescents who enjoyed the cinema so much. John Hughes was famous for such films, and his pictures, Weird Science in particular, show a move by Hollywood studios to capitalise on a contented and affluent middle America.

Another reason I have chosen this film is its reliance on technology, and the idea that at that time, the future of technology and computers in particular was still undefined. It shows that America had positive ambitions for the future, and that technology, whether for typing up homework or creating a curvaceous 6ft bombshell, would be a part of it somehow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Task

Weblog task (before first meeting): Post and comment on an image you judge to be especially iconic of the 1980s