Saturday, June 5, 2004

THE US V. THEM YEARS: This is not the website for discussions of President Reagan's political legacy. I am glad that he is at peace, and that his suffering and the First Lady's is finally over.

But what I'm starting to think about, and this is all still in a very early stage now (so please, help flesh this out, refute it, etc.), is Reagan's impact on popular culture. I think about Madonna, and the way that her early libertinism seemed diametrically opposed to the values of the Reagan Presidency. I think about bands like the Minutemen, Minor Threat and Husker Du, an American punk movement created from a sense of alienation from the broader culture and a national political conversation unresponsive to the concerns of youth. From those same roots, of course, emerged rap music and a hip-hop culture, a bottom-up phenomenom like no other in our lifetime.

I think about Born in the U.S.A. and The Joshua Tree, albums of epic size, one that spoke of frustrations and struggling, the other of the quest for human connections to give meaning to it all.

Movies are another thing, and the movies I think about with that era largely reflect a conception of heroism in line with the Reagan ethos, and not in opposition to it. I think about John McClane and Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, lone rebels confident in their abilities and committed to their missions. I think about Marty McFly, just an ordinary kid with a smile on his face and the power to change the history of music -- and his family's future.

On the other hand, there's Blue Velvet and the films of Oliver Stone. (And? As I said, I'm still working through this.)

That's all I've got right now. I paid for this microphone, but now the floor's yours.

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