Back to Our Future
Wall Street scandals. Fights over taxes. Racial resentments. A Lakers-Celtics championship. The Karate Kid topping the box-office charts. Bon Jovi touring the country. These words could describe our current moment—or the vaunted iconography of three decades past.In this wide-ranging and wickedly entertaining book, New York Times bestselling journalist David Sirota takes readers on a rollicking DeLorean ride back in time to reveal how so many of our present-day conflicts are rooted in the larger-than-life pop culture of the 1980s—from the “Greed is good” ethos of Gordon Gekko (and Bernie Madoff) to the “Make my day” foreign policy of Ronald Reagan (and George W. Bush) to the “transcendence” of Cliff Huxtable (and Barack Obama).Today’s mindless militarism and hypernarcissism, Sirota argues, first became the norm when an ’80s generation weaned on Rambo one-liners and “Just Do It” exhortations embraced a new religion—with comic books, cartoons, sneaker commercials, videogames, and even children’s toys serving as the key instruments of cultural indoctrination. Meanwhile, in productions such as Back to the Future, Family Ties, and The Big Chill, a campaign was launched to reimagine the 1950s as America’s lost golden age and vilify the 1960s as the source of all our troubles. That 1980s revisionism, Sirota shows, still rages today, with Barack Obama cast as the 60s hippie being assailed by Alex P. Keaton–esque Republicans who long for a return to Eisenhower-era conservatism. “The past is never dead,” William Faulkner wrote. “It’s not even past.” The 1980s—even more so. With the native dexterity only a child of the Atari Age could possess, David Sirota twists and turns this multicolored Rubik’s Cube of a decade, exposing it as a warning for our own troubled present—and possible future.

Back to Our Future Details

TitleBack to Our Future
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 15th, 2011
PublisherBallantine Books
ISBN-139780345518781
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Politics, Culture, Pop Culture, Sociology, Cultural

Back to Our Future Review

  • Ed Wagemann
    January 1, 1970
    People who don't think for themselves really irk me. And since there are alot of dipshits in our society who conform to the mass mindlessness, I seem to get irked at least three times a day. That number shot up considerably as I read David Sirota's Back To Our Future. Conformity of thought goes back ages and is in fact a natural tendencies in human group environments. In the middle ages for instance, if you didn't conform to what the church told you, or to what the landowners told you, you could People who don't think for themselves really irk me. And since there are alot of dipshits in our society who conform to the mass mindlessness, I seem to get irked at least three times a day. That number shot up considerably as I read David Sirota's Back To Our Future. Conformity of thought goes back ages and is in fact a natural tendencies in human group environments. In the middle ages for instance, if you didn't conform to what the church told you, or to what the landowners told you, you could get drawn and quartered. So conformity of thought was a self-preservation tool that parents taught their children, that communities encouraged in their neighborhoods and that nations encouraged in their citizens. There have been rebels of course, the Jonathon Livingston Seagulls who don't pine for the acceptance of the group or their peers and who ventured off on their own path--but the masses have generally been conforming to their church, their community, their family, their parents, their government, their employer for as long as mankind has existed in groups. Beginning in the early to mid 20th century however, there came a new and incredibly powerful force that influenced control over conformity of thought--it was the mass media, ie radio, film, television. Television especially, which invaded the American home in the 1950s like an infestation of brain-eating ants became a most potent tool for conformity. TV not only took the place of babysitters in some families but of parents as well, as kids across the country would sit in front of the boob tube after school and on weekends and let the idiot box infiltrate their young, formidable little brains. By the 1980s this brain-draining osmosis went into full-on assault as the cable tv revolution invaded millions of households across America. Millions of children were no longer learning the social norms, values and behavioral patterns from their parents and community. They were learning it from the fucking TV!David Sirota, who does not seem to have any childhood/teenage memories beyond the soundbites of his favorite movies that shaped his relationship with his brothers and parents, is one of these children of the 80s. Like Steven Johnson (author of the equally irksome Everything Bad is Good For You) Sirota seems to believe that just because he saw something (or believes something) that our entire culture must have seen it also (and therefore also believes it). The introduction to his book Back To Our Future is filled with a miraid of these kinds of idiotic judgements:"Today, we still see economics through Wall Street's [the Oliver Stone movie] eyes and government through The A-Team's garage googles, confident that a few 'greed is good' tweaks and hired mercenaries can save our economy and foreign policy."Really? We do?"We view race through Diff'erent Strokes and Cosby Show living rooms, differentiating between the acceptable 'transcendent' minorities and unacceptably ethnic ones."Wtf?"When we consider ourselves on the global stage, we still imagine Sergeant Slaughter. When we look at the rest of the world, we still scowl at the Iron Sheik."lol! Notice how often Sirota says "we" and you can see why I get irked. I mean nothing is quite as frustrating as some douche-ball like Sirota projecting his pop-consumer-culture world view of simple-minded generalities onto our entire society. He seems to base (what passes for) his world views on the too many hours of cable tv he watched as a pimply-faced teen growing up in the 80s. And this is where the massive disconnect that the mass mindlessness sheeple like Steve Johnson, Glen Beck and David Sirota becomes obvious: They each seem to have this dellusion that they speak for an entire generation or even an entire society. For instance, here Sirota in his infinite "wisdom" claims:"Fox [actor Michael J. Fox] in the 1980s was helping concoct the indelible generational fantasies that still dictate America's sense of possible and impossible, desirable and undesirable."And this:"Every public-policy, competition, and entertainment plot worships the Michael Jordan ideal originally popularized in sneakers, T-shirts, animated movies, and McDonald's commercials."This ridiculasly hyperbolic tone make's Sirota's prose entirely unlikable and it makes his crap-stick of a book frustratingly unreadable, but at the same time it gives some insight into the mindframe of the mass mindlessness sheeple. For instance, it's interesting to see how influenced Sirota's mindset was by the mainstream media's version of the 1960s. In the mainstream media version of the 1960s there was this coming together of an entire generation that stood up for civil rights and peace and love and humanity--koom by ya. This generation had a common experience--much of it viewed through the tv set--and was brought together by events like JFK being shot on tv and the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan and Jimi Hendrix butt-fucking his guitar as he wailed out the star-spangled banner at Woodstock and the US sending a man to the moon. This is the mainstream media's version of the 60s anyways, and like most mindless generalities there is always some truth in it. Many Baby Boomers coming of age in the 50s and 60s most likely did have some generational cohesiveness. But Sirota and other mass mindless sheeple seem to take this idea of a generational cohesiveness and try to apply it to the children of the 1970s and 1980s and beyond. Of course in real life there is only a very minor influence of any sort of generational cohesiveness existing. It really only exists in the world inside the sheeple's little signal emmitting electronic boxes. In reality society became incredibly fragmented in the 70s. Ironically, the mass media played a real part in this fragmentation. Musically for instance we saw country, disco, punk, heay metal, new wave, hard rock all develope into distinct genres in the 1970s. The 70s youngsters weren't all listening to the same thing let alone all thinking the same thoughts. And by the 80s they all weren't even watching the same shows. Cable TV and VCRs gave the youth of the 80s more options than the 3 or 4 channels of corporate broadcasting that the youth of the 60s had. The youth of the 80s had more choices for individualism. And this is where Sirota seems to have entirely missed the boat. Stuck in his mainsteam media version of the 1960s, Sirota seems to think that not only did every teenager in the 80s play the same arcade/video games as he did, but listened to the same music, watched the same tv shows and the same movies. And that furhtermore all these mass media offerings had the exact same influence on the rest of his generation as they did on him. This ridiculas assumption is obviously even more assinine when trying to apply it to the youth of the 90s (who had even more options with the emergence of the internet) and the youth of today (who have yet even more options with i-phones and all that jazz). Interestingly enough though, instead of seeing all these modern gadgets as sources of infomration that incourages thought, Sirota actually seems to link all of our modern electronic devices and sources of information to some kind of Orwellian plot that actually encourages people (kids especially) NOT to think on their own. On page 34, he writes:We "are outsourcing critical contemplation, vesting complete faith in others and letting them do the thinkng for us. It is an [bullshit] ideological devotion to individual deities...We read from Oprah's book-club list and get life tips from her magazine. We imbibe Paris Hilton's gossip and pass on Matt Drudge's headlines--and we do it without question. We look to Jim Cramer and Suze Orman for investment buy and sell orders, we turn to Deepak Chopra or Dr. Phil for happiness directives--and when we discuss and disagree, we marshal our arguments like Chris Matthews or Lou Dobbs or Rush Limbaugh..."And according to Sirota this is all because, as Orwell predicted, of our obsession with the Great Individuals (Big Brothers) that began in the 1980s. Actually in 1984 to be exact, that being Michael Jordan's rookie season in the NBA. And the blame for this obsession with Great Individual all begins with Nike tv ads of the 1980s that protrayed Jordan as superhuman or that proclaimed that we should "Just Do It" or promoted individuality in the "Revolution Ads". Further more Sirota claims that because of this obsesion with the Great Individuals, we:"...no longer study up on public issues. We trade in the responsibilities of democratic citizenship for the pleasure of a superfan's hysterical enthusiasm by simply backing whatever is being pushed by the political Michael Jordan we like, and opposing whatever his or her archenemy supports. We don't pay attention to local democracy, we don't pay attention to local issues. We flock to Obama rallies and cheer when he says 'change'. We mob Sarah Palin book signings because she 'stands for what America is'. We are clashing mobs of rabid fan clubs boorishly following the feuding Jordans at the very top, without regard for what the competition is all about...'"After reading this far into the book you might start to think that Sirota must really hate America. And he must really hate himself too, because he isn't saying "Everyone else but me is doing all of this stuff." He's saying "We are doing this stuff." But of course Sirota is actually being much less than sincere when he is using all of these "we's" because it becomes pretty obvious that Sirota does not consider himself among the "We" that he is so critical of. No, he in fact, seems to see himself more as one of the Great Individuals. Which nicely brings us to his chapter on "narcissistic personality disorder" (NPD--why do we need such idiotic clinical terms for every God damned human trait nowdays???) that is brought on when an individual is enveloped in this world of mass mindlessness. Sirota warns the reader on page 54 of what this NPD does to our society:"There is...damage when the achievement of fame and kingly wealth becomes the central organizing objective of society. The future republic is threatened by a sharp increase in the number of people who care only about themselves; and the earth's ecosystem may not survive the scourge of smog-belching and gas-guzzling 'me' culture that first spread in the late 1970s and 1980s. This modern blast of narcissism all but defines America now..." Out of the blue, Sirota then accuses Time magazine of celebrating this narcissisic self-absorption of America when they taped reflective Mylar to the cover of their 2006 Person of the Year issue, proclaiming "You" as their person of the year. Sirota also points the finger at everyone from Karl Rove (for describing himself as courageous) to some random woman sitting next to him in a coffee shop who is "frantically blogging about her favorite movie as if the world is waiting her opinion." Which actully doesn't seem that different from frantically writing a book about far-fetched arguments that everything wrong with society today is because of what happened in the 1980s. Does it? So maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea for Mr. Sirota to take a gander into one of those reflective pieces of Mylar on the cover of the Time 2006 person of the year magazine covers and start including himself as one of those idiot "We's" that overpopulate our culture.In all honesty I gave up reading Sirota's load of shit at this point. I just couldnt stomach his hyperbole and hypocrisy a minute longer. Overall I think he needs a serious punch in the nose and I hereby decree that Back To Our Future recieves ZERO out of 5 WagemannHeads. NEXT!!!
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  • Kate Woods Walker
    January 1, 1970
    It has become my stock answer to my children, when they ask how the promise of the sixties devolved into the sociopathic-capitalistic Death March that is modern America, to simply say "The Eighties happened." Before this book, I thought I was the only one who noticed.But David Sirota not only noticed, he researched. And then he presented, with remarkable good cheer, a cogent explanation for the state we're in. Back to Our Future has the potential to be a huge book, much like Future Shock was in It has become my stock answer to my children, when they ask how the promise of the sixties devolved into the sociopathic-capitalistic Death March that is modern America, to simply say "The Eighties happened." Before this book, I thought I was the only one who noticed.But David Sirota not only noticed, he researched. And then he presented, with remarkable good cheer, a cogent explanation for the state we're in. Back to Our Future has the potential to be a huge book, much like Future Shock was in its day, or much like the ballyhooed-but-not-as-good Freakonomics was not too long ago.Sirota explains how Reaganism and its various cultural offshoots changed the national narrative, and in doing so, gives his readers the power to name the malady, tame it, and stuff it back into the dark id from whence it came. The final two parts are the strongest in the book--about militarism and race consciousness, respectively--and could go a long way toward educating the clueless about their own brainwashing.Buy this book! Share it. Talk it up. Spread the word that the future is here, and although Marty McFly in Back to the Future thought we all might have become assholes (and we did!), we don't have to be assholes any longer.
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  • Schuyler
    January 1, 1970
    Sirota's book is both intelligent and infuriating. Many of his points hit their intended targets, but, I think, most do not. He seems so concerned with rendering the 1980s as an exceptional decade, in terms of its lasting cultural, social, political, and economic effects, that he forgets that such a case could be made, really, for just about any era. In the end, then, I'm not totally buying his overall thesis, even if individual observations are both astute and important. His reading of the effe Sirota's book is both intelligent and infuriating. Many of his points hit their intended targets, but, I think, most do not. He seems so concerned with rendering the 1980s as an exceptional decade, in terms of its lasting cultural, social, political, and economic effects, that he forgets that such a case could be made, really, for just about any era. In the end, then, I'm not totally buying his overall thesis, even if individual observations are both astute and important. His reading of the effect that "The Cosby Show" had on white conceptions of race is pretty amazing, but analysis of other topics--the emergence of anti-government rhetoric in popular movies and on popular TV, for instance--is really problematic and historically facile. And this is to say nothing of his questionable use of sources both qualitative and quantitative. He makes rhetorical moves that I chastise my students for in their papers, such moments as using a quotation that doesn't actually prove his point but saying that it does anyway. For me the book was not "bad" but ultimately disappointing--there're a couple of great articles buried in the 220+ pages here that he should've sold to "The Atlantic" of the "NY Times Magazine" because surrounded by significantly specious claims they lose their impact.
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    "What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?"--Marty McFly, 1985Sirota starts out his book with this quote, and it's a fitting one.Because, yeah, Marty, we kind of did. But we have a defense--we'vebeen deliberately programed from pretty much the womb on up. "We"meaning those of us who grew up in the late 70's through the early90's, the 50/40/30 Somethings who are the workforce and"tastemakers"(some of the time at least). In a country where morethan half of the populatio "What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?"--Marty McFly, 1985Sirota starts out his book with this quote, and it's a fitting one.Because, yeah, Marty, we kind of did. But we have a defense--we'vebeen deliberately programed from pretty much the womb on up. "We"meaning those of us who grew up in the late 70's through the early90's, the 50/40/30 Somethings who are the workforce and"tastemakers"(some of the time at least). In a country where morethan half of the population has been born since 1979, you'd think our80's childhood would be a faded memory. But a monster was createdback then, a seemingly immortal wizard who practices virulentnarcissism and continues to lure people into the Cult of Personalitythat began with Michael Jordan as the faceman and Nike as its boomingvoice, but has become legion-- all those folks who believe in "Just doit" somewhere deep in their questionably existent souls. Either weare the uberman or we worship and obey the uberman without muchquestioning or thought. Some of it was backlash against the VietnamWar. Some of it was greed, a grasping for money or power. Some of itwas improved technology and communication advances. But the vastmajority of it was planned, "sculpted" as Sirota says frequentlythroughout the book. Page after page he points out how even thesimple, "innocent" things like children's toys and sit-coms from ourchildhood shape who we are and what we do each and every dayNOW--agendas and machinations lurk within the video and movie screen,propaganda abounds. You've got to hand it to Sirota for dishing thesedark tales out in an engaging, often funny manner, getting us to laughbefore we cringe. He's a part of this generation, he admits it fully.But he also gives us a way to peek behind the curtain to see exactlywhat the man behind it is doing, and thus we can never go back toblissful ignorance again. I highly urge everyone, regardless ofgenerational identity or political leaning, to read this book becauseit's going to be talked about A LOT come Spring, and the conversationpromises to be something you don't want to miss.
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  • D.M. Dutcher
    January 1, 1970
    If you can seriously think of a Nightmare on Elm Street as embodying an anti-government ethos, or that G.I. Joe cartoons were made for the main reason of making militarism attractive, you might like this book. For the rest of us, the author relentlessly stretches particular events that happened in the 80s to fit his preconceived progressive ideas.He claims that the 80s demonized the 60s, but really only uses family ties as an example, and skips mostly over how the 80s were a reaction to the hedo If you can seriously think of a Nightmare on Elm Street as embodying an anti-government ethos, or that G.I. Joe cartoons were made for the main reason of making militarism attractive, you might like this book. For the rest of us, the author relentlessly stretches particular events that happened in the 80s to fit his preconceived progressive ideas.He claims that the 80s demonized the 60s, but really only uses family ties as an example, and skips mostly over how the 80s were a reaction to the hedonism of the 70s, not 60s. Some things he really is reaching, and tries to use a small number of examples to prove something. He goes heavily into Red Dawn, but he seems to entirely forget the reason it was popular was due to the Cold War being in swing, and how that influenced militaristic ideas. Even then, for assuming that decade explains everything, he barely covers things that happen in it. A less progressive political outlook and a more episodic one might have helped-for example, nothing about the Challenger, and how over night it transformed the popular view of NASA? He worries about Sgt Slaughter in wrestling, but very little about Hulk Hogan. He has an interesting take on the movies of the era, but he totally misses things like the mainstreaming of horror films, and their increasing violence.Unfortunately the progressive bent of the author causes a much weaker book because of it. If he had just focused on how the decade caused things in general, he might have made a stronger case.
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  • D.R. Bartlette
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a big fan of David Sirota, and when I saw “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now – Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything,” I practically squealed. OK, I did squeal. I have been saying this for years, and when someone as smart as Sirota writes a whole book about it, it feels pretty vindicating.I’m just about Sirota’s age, maybe a couple of years older. I remember the 80s, and as the kid of a poor single mother, for me and others like me, the decade was not the I’m a big fan of David Sirota, and when I saw “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now – Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything,” I practically squealed. OK, I did squeal. I have been saying this for years, and when someone as smart as Sirota writes a whole book about it, it feels pretty vindicating.I’m just about Sirota’s age, maybe a couple of years older. I remember the 80s, and as the kid of a poor single mother, for me and others like me, the decade was not the fabulous, happy time it has been mythologized into. It seemed every time we turned on the TV, some rich white man in Washington was talking shit about “welfare queens,” like we were driving around in Cadillacs and eating foie gras (for the record, we went through one 20-year-old clunker after another, counting our food stamp change for a dollar in gas here and there). Reagan, who has been turned into some kind of right-wing messiah, slashed money for school lunches, meaning we poor kids who had to eat free lunches got ever crappier (and greasier, saltier) food. He also slashed funding for anything and everything for the poor; when mental health facilities saw their funding cut, they had to turn people out on the street in record numbers, creating so many mentally unstable homeless it’s become a modern archetype.As a kid and a teenager, I was savvy enough to see even then that the new culture that was being created was not good – not good for working and poor people, not good for peace, not good for democracy. But I didn’t have either the hindsight or extensive research Sirota lays out in this book.BTOF lays out all the ways the 1980s laid the psychological foundation for the hyper-consumerist, warmongering culture we live in now – and it does it with the kind of whip-smart humor only a Gen Xer would understand.Want to read the rest of my review? Check out my blog: http://scryberwitch.wordpress.com/201...
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  • Allen D.
    January 1, 1970
    After reading this book, I think I owe my parents an apology. I was not allowed to watch violent movies like Top Gun or watch violent TV shows like the A-Team. My squirt guns were actually curved fish or old lemon juice containers. At the time I thought they were denying me the common language I needed to communicate with my peers. After reading this book I think they may have done me a favor. Sirota details several common themes in the pop-culture of the 80's that were not readily apparent: Vie After reading this book, I think I owe my parents an apology. I was not allowed to watch violent movies like Top Gun or watch violent TV shows like the A-Team. My squirt guns were actually curved fish or old lemon juice containers. At the time I thought they were denying me the common language I needed to communicate with my peers. After reading this book I think they may have done me a favor. Sirota details several common themes in the pop-culture of the 80's that were not readily apparent: Vietnam was a war we could have won "if only we had tried" and the government is incompetent (other than the military, which should be celebrated). I do not think I agree with all the points he made, but they were interesting and made me think, which is always welcome.
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  • Steven Passmore
    January 1, 1970
    I was assigned this book for a bullshit class. Generally it surprised me that a book written so badly could ever be published. David Sirota tries too hard when he writes. Everything is a jumble of words he shotgunned from a thesaurus, or at least that's how his writing comes off to any educated reader. I really didn't care about the arguments from the book, and I don't think the author cared much either seeing how thin the examples are stretched to fit his already formulated rants. The book is a I was assigned this book for a bullshit class. Generally it surprised me that a book written so badly could ever be published. David Sirota tries too hard when he writes. Everything is a jumble of words he shotgunned from a thesaurus, or at least that's how his writing comes off to any educated reader. I really didn't care about the arguments from the book, and I don't think the author cared much either seeing how thin the examples are stretched to fit his already formulated rants. The book is a work in elitist douche-baggery wrapped in 80's nostalgia and was probably published because of a lost bet.
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  • Leilani
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating and provocative read. Sirota makes persuasive arguments about the rise of American militarism and how the idea of racial "transcendance" turns back progress against racism. The early part of the book doesn't seem as well-supported, and occasionally I disagreed with his interpretations of certain films (Coming Home is anything but a pro-military movie), but his arguments got stronger as I got farther in. Occasionally his rhetoric veers too far toward the sensationalistic ("sheeple," A fascinating and provocative read. Sirota makes persuasive arguments about the rise of American militarism and how the idea of racial "transcendance" turns back progress against racism. The early part of the book doesn't seem as well-supported, and occasionally I disagreed with his interpretations of certain films (Coming Home is anything but a pro-military movie), but his arguments got stronger as I got farther in. Occasionally his rhetoric veers too far toward the sensationalistic ("sheeple," really?), but for the most part it remains lively and thought-provoking.
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  • Jay Gabler
    January 1, 1970
    I neglected to notice the little figure on the cover, in danger of being crushed by the rolling Rubik’s Cube. Wait, the author’s arguing that the ‘80s were *bad*? Yes, decidedly so. Much of the book is too strident, and the fusillade of pop-culture references can be awkward, but as an ‘80s kid turned ‘80s history buff, I found Sirota’s Unified Theory of Reaganism well-worth contemplating. A lot of that ‘80s silliness was peddling very large lies, or obscuring truths. Just think if the book was w I neglected to notice the little figure on the cover, in danger of being crushed by the rolling Rubik’s Cube. Wait, the author’s arguing that the ‘80s were *bad*? Yes, decidedly so. Much of the book is too strident, and the fusillade of pop-culture references can be awkward, but as an ‘80s kid turned ‘80s history buff, I found Sirota’s Unified Theory of Reaganism well-worth contemplating. A lot of that ‘80s silliness was peddling very large lies, or obscuring truths. Just think if the book was written now, after the most noxious ‘80s icon of all has been elevated to our highest office.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    David Sirota presents the idea that popular culture of the 1980's played into the right wing agenda to set the stage for the political life and economy we now have.He cites very popular TV series' "Family Ties" where Michael J. Fox., playing the son of former anti-war activists, has great punch lines that put down his parents and their generation. Lone detectives such as Magnum PI and rogue cops like Clint Eastwood beat the slow, plodding, or corrupt local police departments. Movies such as Ramb David Sirota presents the idea that popular culture of the 1980's played into the right wing agenda to set the stage for the political life and economy we now have.He cites very popular TV series' "Family Ties" where Michael J. Fox., playing the son of former anti-war activists, has great punch lines that put down his parents and their generation. Lone detectives such as Magnum PI and rogue cops like Clint Eastwood beat the slow, plodding, or corrupt local police departments. Movies such as Rambo, and even ET show a lone hero against an unsympathetic government. Michael Jordan, like the lone the maverick detectives promoted the individual vs. the team. Sirota cites popular culture icon after icon to demonstrate how not just an anti-government but also anti-community images were planted.In the political world, Reagan and the Republican rhetoric re-enforced the notions of the ineffectuality of government... everything private is better. With the pop culture wind at their back, it was easier for conservatives to shift responsibility of the failures of Vietnam to those against it (hippies like the Baxters). Pre-empting a discussion on the morality of the war set the stage for future militarism. Sirota cites examples of how the Pentagon, itself, fostered popular culture images to re-brand the military as the embodiment of patriotism itself, making it easier to get a larger share of tax revenues and, effectively, set its own policy.Sirota is very convincing in drawing the chain of media that set the narrative on the 60's, created the "John Gault" style of teamless individuals and assured a vague understanding of what happened in Vietnam and how this brings us to the political and economic situation of today. Less convincing is Sirota's analysis of the portrayal of Blacks in 80's culture. He writes a lot about how the Huxtables were far from typical and gave the impression that race issues were over in the US.This book discusses the influence of popular culture; it does not discuss the counter trends sweeping through people's lives. Those that come to mind are the erasure of the parent-child generation gap, the changing role of women, changes in the very nature/culture of high schools (relaxed dress codes, more varied band music, more choices in courses and times, girls sports teams, more group projects), the reliance on teams in the workplace and the growing acceptance of interracial couples. These social currents do not change the validity of Sirota's thesis, but they need to be considered when the influence of the media messages is measured.Similarly, the book presumes that popular culture is pervasive. I saw very few of the programs or films he mentioned. The audience for the video games discussed was heavily male as was the audience for some of the films. For the TV and film mentioned, the audiences were often segmented by both race and gender. I presume new immigrants did not follow this type of media very much.Another factor not considered, is the influence of popular culture in previous generations. 1950's TV was more conformist than that of the 80's and there was far less choice (1 to 3 channels depending on your proximity to a city) and it produced a generation that rejectedits images.The book provokes a lot of thought. The points are important and need more discussion and study.
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  • Frank Baden
    January 1, 1970
    "Back to our Future" is a book I'm sure you'll find fascinating, if not controversial. I was at once engaged and repulsed. Although it initially appears the author is about to embark on an 80's love fest, he gets progressively angrier until you sense he's genuinely embarrassed to have existed during such horrible time for America. The problem, however, is that while it's important to put forth Contrarian views of widely accepted viewpoints so that we might consider their otherwise secret and fla "Back to our Future" is a book I'm sure you'll find fascinating, if not controversial. I was at once engaged and repulsed. Although it initially appears the author is about to embark on an 80's love fest, he gets progressively angrier until you sense he's genuinely embarrassed to have existed during such horrible time for America. The problem, however, is that while it's important to put forth Contrarian views of widely accepted viewpoints so that we might consider their otherwise secret and flawed nature, the 80's is a curious subject to assault. Decades are usually best judged by how people feel, and for better or worse, people felt good during the 80's and had hope. Increased paycheck hope. Military hope, and racial hope. The author argues it was false hope, but perception is often reality, because reality bites. The author seems offended that we were collectively naïve enough to choose fiction over reality, but to the extent that the 1980's blanketed the nation with any kind of hope after the malaise of the 70's, I would argue makes it a remarkable success. Ultimately, Sirota blames the 80's for all the bad aspects of our current society. He assails conservative politics, race relations, and the military without offering solutions that would have otherwise ended the cold war. He tries to convince whites they should feel guilty about the plight of blacks, even though slavery happened generations ago. Since whites, en masse, can't relate to the black experience, how can they be expected to feel obliged to participate in liberal social experimentation? The one aspect he covered that I totally agreed with was how the 80's fostered our narcissism to stratospheric proportions. We can't really deny that, but overall, the book had a very liberal agenda and failed to convince me why the 1960's was better. He tries to be serious, but you can tell the guy, despite growing up in the 80's (I'm exactly the same age as the author) wants to distance himself from it. Sirota's early blind reverence for the decade has been displaced by a resentment that either informs, or is informed by, his liberal philosophy and so he bashes it endlessly. It was probably a good book for me to have read, but I'm disappointed in the ugly spin. It's as if Sirota were Ivan Drago, and uttered, "I must break you" to the entire decade. Apparently, this was a cathartic process for him wherein some demons needed to be purged. I hope he feels better.
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  • Jim Cherry
    January 1, 1970
    How Ghostbusters May Affect How You Look at the World.Between 1968 and 1970 Harlan Ellison wrote “The Glass Teat” about what messages are being sent to us via the TV shows we watch. Since then media has exploded and we’re surrounded by it on TV, the internet, movies, video games, and advertising. The time was ripe for another look at what messages are being instilled in us through the media we’re exposed to everyday.David Sirota’s “Back to Our Future” does Ellison’s book one step better. Sirota How Ghostbusters May Affect How You Look at the World.Between 1968 and 1970 Harlan Ellison wrote “The Glass Teat” about what messages are being sent to us via the TV shows we watch. Since then media has exploded and we’re surrounded by it on TV, the internet, movies, video games, and advertising. The time was ripe for another look at what messages are being instilled in us through the media we’re exposed to everyday.David Sirota’s “Back to Our Future” does Ellison’s book one step better. Sirota looks at how the messages in the media of the 80’s shapes and affects our opinions in the real world of today. Some of the issues Sirota tackles are things like:How Hollywood has been in bed with the pentagon for the last 30 years, to create a military entertainment complex that loads movies with only positive portrayals of the military, even if that portrayal contradicts real events. A fairly obvious example is that “Top Gun” was a near recruitment poster for the Navy (which was mentioned in some reviews of the movie at the time). One of the affects of these portrayals, Sirota points out, is how we now expect our leaders to behave in the cartoonish manner of movie heroes such as Rambo. Sirota effectively puts to rest the myth of “liberal Hollywood.” But you’ll also find yourself shocked at the messages you find in movies we consider to be fairly innocuous fare as “Ghostbusters” (a movie I still enjoy watching), and the anti-government, anti-EPA message it contains. Is it any wonder that people now regularly attack the government as being impotent, and are seeking to get rid of the EPA.How we’ve convinced ourselves, because of The Cosby Show, we live in a post-racial society where discrimination seems to have disappeared somewhere in the mid-70’s despite evidence to the contrary is also addressed.By all rights “Back to Our Future” should be a thick academic tome. It’s not, it’s a highly entertaining and readable look at the 80’s, even some of the footnotes are fun! “Back to Our Future” is also a very timely book. The examples Sirota uses are as current as what’s on your TV now.No matter what your political stripe, it’s worth reading “Back to Our Future.” We should know what messages are being instilled in us, and if we’re to be consumers of these messages we should at least be aware of them and the reasons why some want those messages instilled into us.
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  • Noah Gittell
    January 1, 1970
    Loads of fun and thought-provoking. Sirota's hypothesis is that the pop culture of the 1980s not only reflected the politics of the moment but also laid the groundwork for much of what is wrong with U.S. public policy today. Having grown up in the '80s, Sirota has real passion, grounded in the innocence of childhood, for the very pop artifacts he's condemning - G.I. Joe, "Red Dawn," "The Cosby Show," and Michael Jordan, to name a few - and he imbues the narrative with an enthusiasm that nicely t Loads of fun and thought-provoking. Sirota's hypothesis is that the pop culture of the 1980s not only reflected the politics of the moment but also laid the groundwork for much of what is wrong with U.S. public policy today. Having grown up in the '80s, Sirota has real passion, grounded in the innocence of childhood, for the very pop artifacts he's condemning - G.I. Joe, "Red Dawn," "The Cosby Show," and Michael Jordan, to name a few - and he imbues the narrative with an enthusiasm that nicely tempers the darker, more depressing conclusions that he draws. Sirota's analysis of the anti-government, pro-military messages behind some well-known '80s classic films is startling, but the real winner is the last chapter, in which he chastises Obama for succumbing to the "Huxtable principle" - promoting "postracial politics" for the sake of mass appeal, a tactic that Sirota convincingly argues is a more subtle - but just as damaging - kind of mass discrimination. As some critics have noted, Sirota may make a few questionable leaps of logic from time to time, but he has real passion for his subject matter and the book is so much fun, it's hard to care.
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  • Mike Tueros
    January 1, 1970
    Being a child of the 80's, I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and the blurb lured me in with how memories of my childhood permeate my life today. Sirota breaks down his "thesis" into 3 parts: the influence of "Just Do It"; the "Red Dawn" syndrome; and the "Huxtable effect". The Nike phenomenon's impact on our society today held strong for me, as did the majority of his references (of which several were laugh out loud humorous), however, as he droned on during the subsequent Red Dawn an Being a child of the 80's, I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and the blurb lured me in with how memories of my childhood permeate my life today. Sirota breaks down his "thesis" into 3 parts: the influence of "Just Do It"; the "Red Dawn" syndrome; and the "Huxtable effect". The Nike phenomenon's impact on our society today held strong for me, as did the majority of his references (of which several were laugh out loud humorous), however, as he droned on during the subsequent Red Dawn and Huxtable sections, I felt he was challenged to stretch this cool idea for a magazine article, into a full fledged book. Sirota's ideas are plausible, however stray towards "conspiracy" theory. By the time I finished up with the Huxtables, I just wanted to finish. If you are child of this generation, there are a lot of recognizable references that will make the book enjoyable. Read it as a fun idea of how our society operates and some interesting parallels with the 1980's.
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  • Carljoe Javier
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read with a lot of strong ideas. It's brave and insightful political commentary through the lens of pop culture. And Sirota proves a worthy debater as he argues for the lasting impression that 80s culture has made on us. It's also a lot of fun, especially if you're a geek, have 80s nostalgia, or both. My only problem was that at times things felt heavy-handed and there were parts that were repetitive, as if the reader needed hand-holding. I supposed that heavy-handedness is part of p Interesting read with a lot of strong ideas. It's brave and insightful political commentary through the lens of pop culture. And Sirota proves a worthy debater as he argues for the lasting impression that 80s culture has made on us. It's also a lot of fun, especially if you're a geek, have 80s nostalgia, or both. My only problem was that at times things felt heavy-handed and there were parts that were repetitive, as if the reader needed hand-holding. I supposed that heavy-handedness is part of political discourse and strong argumentation, but I felt that there might have been other techniques that could have been applied, especially with the wealth of material to draw upon. Nevertheless, this was a great read filled with great ideas. You might not agree or be sold on everything, but the reading is well worth it.
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  • Chris Aylott
    January 1, 1970
    If anyone ever needed evidence that Gen Xers are shallow and lazy, Sirota has provided it. I like a tour through my childhood as much as the next guy, but Sirota has found a way to blame all the ills and isms of the 21st century on the culture of the eighties. It's an intriguing premise, but it only holds water if you ignore the economic, technological, and demographic shifts of the last forty years, then pretend that nobody knew how to do propaganda and mass media manipulation before 1980. It a If anyone ever needed evidence that Gen Xers are shallow and lazy, Sirota has provided it. I like a tour through my childhood as much as the next guy, but Sirota has found a way to blame all the ills and isms of the 21st century on the culture of the eighties. It's an intriguing premise, but it only holds water if you ignore the economic, technological, and demographic shifts of the last forty years, then pretend that nobody knew how to do propaganda and mass media manipulation before 1980. It also helps to ignore the many ways in which popular culture lags current events, reflecting what everybody is worried about rather than imposing an agenda on others. There's an interesting book to be written about the changing mass media of the 1980's served as an amplifier for our fears, hopes, and political agendas. Too bad this book never tries to dig that deep.
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  • Scott Lupo
    January 1, 1970
    If you are a kid of the 1980s this is a sweet read. It helps if you lean to the left a bit too or are progressive in your political philosophies (full disclosure, I am a progressive). Sirota can get a little exaggerated at times but then he calls himself on it. He builds a great argument for proclaiming that the 80s has shaped how we think and act today in terms of culture, politics, race relations, commercialism, and militarism. It is fascinating, scary, and appalling all in one breath. Think w If you are a kid of the 1980s this is a sweet read. It helps if you lean to the left a bit too or are progressive in your political philosophies (full disclosure, I am a progressive). Sirota can get a little exaggerated at times but then he calls himself on it. He builds a great argument for proclaiming that the 80s has shaped how we think and act today in terms of culture, politics, race relations, commercialism, and militarism. It is fascinating, scary, and appalling all in one breath. Think we're not brainwashed from the media and politics of the 80s to this day? Take a read and see what you think afterwards.
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  • Khairul Hezry
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting book and thought provoking but (disclaimer alert!) I'm not American and have never been to America and while many of the '80s pop culture references he lists in the book are familiar to me I cannot relate as to how they affect American mentality in the 21st century. As an outsider trying to figure out the contemporary American psyche, this book is a good place to start but I need to look at more literature (both by conservatives and liberals) before I can truly understand what mak An interesting book and thought provoking but (disclaimer alert!) I'm not American and have never been to America and while many of the '80s pop culture references he lists in the book are familiar to me I cannot relate as to how they affect American mentality in the 21st century. As an outsider trying to figure out the contemporary American psyche, this book is a good place to start but I need to look at more literature (both by conservatives and liberals) before I can truly understand what makes "you guys" tick.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Sirota asserts that the two key themes from the 80s (militarism - thank Reagan - and active ignorance of issues faced by African Americans - thank the Cosby Show) inform the reality of our lives today. At first the idea is absurd but as the book progresses it actually starts to make sense. Sirota closes with some hopeful feelings since the 80s themes may be playing themselves out. We can only hope. The glossary at the end of the book may be worth the price of admission.
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  • Ratt
    January 1, 1970
    The basic thesis of this book is spot-on: The 60s have been demonized, the 50s lionized, and this cultural remake of American History is pretty much what is enabling the forces of evil to run amok at our (working peoples') expense. If you grew up in the 80s, the book is fun enough. Personally, I found the sensationalist prose undermined the seriousness of the subject.
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  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    It has the appearance of a lighthearted look back at '80s pop culture, but this is really a thought-provoking -- albeit fairly dry -- examination of the Reagan revolution and its after-effects. Not a real page-turner, although I agree with a lot of what Sirota had to say.
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I think this might be good for my book club...
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    A surprise from my hubby!
  • Aram
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent analysis. Anyone who looks at American culture, politics, and society and wonders 'How did we get here?' should read this book.
  • Derek
    January 1, 1970
    Once I saw the title for this book, I knew I had to read it. I had had no previous experience with progressive journalist/activist David Sirota, but I was fascinated by the concept that much of the way that the US sees the world was shaped by the events, politics, and culture of the 1980s.Sirota makes effective and well-sourced arguments about how the 1980s have affected American culture in many ways: the lionization of the 50s and corresponding dismissal and villainization of the progressivenes Once I saw the title for this book, I knew I had to read it. I had had no previous experience with progressive journalist/activist David Sirota, but I was fascinated by the concept that much of the way that the US sees the world was shaped by the events, politics, and culture of the 1980s.Sirota makes effective and well-sourced arguments about how the 1980s have affected American culture in many ways: the lionization of the 50s and corresponding dismissal and villainization of the progressiveness of the 60s; the rise of individualism and the elevation of celebrity; the praise and adulation of militarism and its equivocation with patriotism; and even the ways in which racism was treated as no longer an issue by 80s television.He makes his arguments comprehensively and exhaustively, and they are convincing and compelling arguments in each case, as he is able to draw clear lines from elements of history and culture from the 80s to today. Sirota also manages to establish how the patterns of the 80s were different from the 70s, which is perhaps the biggest challenge to his argument - proving that these ideas he discusses actually started in the 80s. I have a wide knowledge of history and culture of that era, and I was impressed at the breadth and the depth of his knowledge; for the most part, if something "should" have been mentioned, it was.As I read through the book, however, the thing that I found to be the most compelling was that it was published in 2011, before Obama's re-election and, of course, the rise of Trump, whose ascent might be the clearest argument for Sirota's essential thesis about the 80s. Trump, perhaps more than any other one figure, is a living embodiment of the 80s ethos, and his election reflects many of the salient points of Sirota's arguments.Back to Our Future is a fascinating book for students of contemporary politics, recent history, and pop culture, particularly in the US, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to reckon with how we got to this point in the world in 2017.
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  • Ben Waymouth
    January 1, 1970
    Started this book a couple years ago and restarted from scratch. The record-setting weather helped me find time to finish. The topic of the 80's, the revisionist history, the endless names, characters, shows, movies mentioned why could someone of my era not find this entertaining! In the words of Marty McFly... "it was educational". As a student of history, I also read for an adult understanding of our current times; lots of lessons learned both positive and negative. The extensive use of a thes Started this book a couple years ago and restarted from scratch. The record-setting weather helped me find time to finish. The topic of the 80's, the revisionist history, the endless names, characters, shows, movies mentioned why could someone of my era not find this entertaining! In the words of Marty McFly... "it was educational". As a student of history, I also read for an adult understanding of our current times; lots of lessons learned both positive and negative. The extensive use of a thesaurus by the author or my rusty masters degree linguistics made this a challenge at times. Having not read this on my kindle I had to stop, look up words I didn't know to ensure I was following along with the inference or intent of the corollary being drawn. For some, this would be a turn-off! I took this as a sharpening of sorts and a challenge. All in all great read for those who love or hate the 80's generation.
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  • Walter Hall
    January 1, 1970
    As someone whose formative years (13-22) occurred during the 80s, I was really looking forward to this book. It was chosen by my book club, but think that I would have picked it anyway, as its topic is so interesting to me.However, when I read the book, I was very disappointed. It really isn't a history of the 80s at all, nor is it about the time period from 1980-1989. The author is quite liberal, and the whole point of the book is to make his points about politics, some of which I agree with (p As someone whose formative years (13-22) occurred during the 80s, I was really looking forward to this book. It was chosen by my book club, but think that I would have picked it anyway, as its topic is so interesting to me.However, when I read the book, I was very disappointed. It really isn't a history of the 80s at all, nor is it about the time period from 1980-1989. The author is quite liberal, and the whole point of the book is to make his points about politics, some of which I agree with (presidents have too much power, the US has become too militaristic), and some I don't (republicans are evil). He tries to show how pop culture illustrates and reinforces these points. I'm not going to argue for or against his political positions. My problem with the book is that the author makes frequent factual mistakes about these pop culture references. For example, he says that the name of the robotic character on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-81) was Twiggy. It was Twiki. You might say this is a small point, but a simple visit to Wikipedia would have pointed it out.He claims that culture only started to view "government is evil or incompetent" in the 80s with movies like First Blood. Hardly. This view was quite common in films of 60s and especially 70s (e.g. Jaws, the mayor refuses to close the beaches). Nearly all CIA agents or local law enforcement in films of that era were walking evil. He approvingly quotes the Baltimore Sun as saying that Family Ties was about "rejecting the counterculture of the 1960s and embracing the wealth and power that came to define the ’80s". This is so wrong. The show (created by an ex-hippie) was about the reversal of the normal generation gap, with the parents as the focus. But audiences loved the kids, especially Michael J. Fox, so the shows focus changed. But the writers still made Fox's character and his opinions the butt of most of the jokes, and the parents' views were never mocked in the same way. President Reagan loved the show and offered to appear on it; the writers and creator hated him and refused to include him. (http://www.museum.tv/eotv/familyties.htm)He says that the marketing of the 50s generation as a concept was new to the 80s. What about Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, American Graffiti, the novels of S.E. Hinton or Sha Na Na?He says that Animal House is a celebration of 50s values. Has he ever seen the movie?He says that Witness is about the contrast of the dangers of the racially diverse inner-city contrasted with the virtues of the all white Amish community. For the record, Witness had three villians, two were white and one was black.He claims that Superman was fighting feminism in Superman II, because one of the villains was emblematic of women's empowerment.He claims that prior to the album An Innocent Man, Billy Joel was a folk singer.He claims that during the 1992 presidental election, Saturday Night Live was "quite literally, satirizing [Bill Clinton] as a tie-dyed hippie". You can see this skit for yourself here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQdDi.... It seems obvious that the point is that this is how Bush sees Clinton and Bush is being mocked for doing so. He says that "Since the 1980s, our politics have focused solely on the president, and both parties have vested more and more power in the executive branch...", which is true, as far as it goes, but this process started long before the 80s. The term "imperial presidency" was first used in the 60s, and the increasing power of the presidency in comparison to the other branches has been ongoing since at least World War I, if not longer.He says that militarism has increased because of the "martial messaging [that] was aided and abetted by Hollywood hits such as An Officer and a Gentleman, Stripes, and Spies Like Us". I have no idea how one can say that Stripes is a pro-military movie. Spies Like Us isn't about the military, but spies. An Officer and a Gentleman is, I'd argue, pretty well-balanced about the good and the bad of military life.He says that the self-improvement genre started in the 1982 with M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled. Hardly. De Tocqueville noted the American penchant for self-improvement. The biggest self-improvement book of all time is probably How to Win Friends and Influence People, from 1936. The 70s were filled with pop-psychology books like I'm Ok, You're Ok, as well as programs like EST that were so ubiquitous that they were being mocked in movies like North Dallas Forty. He says that He-Man and Star Wars are militaristic. That is nuts.He claims that Andre the Giant was a "lumbering Eastern Bloc monster". He was French.He says that "the wild-eyed Egyptian cult" of Young Sherlock Holmes is an example of Islamophobia. This cult is lead by a white Englishman and worships a pre-Islamic deity. He says that in the Star Trek films of the 80s , the Klingons are Arab effigies. I literally have no idea what he is talking about. I've been a ST fan since 1973, and I've never heard anyone ever suggest an Arab-Klingon connection. The only other time I have seen this argument made was at the satire page of Landover Baptist Church.He says that the view of Magic Johnson was one of an "angry, showy-but-undisciplined, overtalented-but-underachieving" player. Magic Johnson angry? What is this guy talking about?This book reminded me of a Ann Coulter book. If you already share the author's opinions, you'll probably like it. If not, then it will only make you think that he doesn't know what he is talking about.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Very surface level analysis for most of it, all pop culture, no political economy. And even the pop culture analysis seems off in many places to me. The idea of the 80s as a refutation of the 60s and restoration of the 50s is interesting, but the analysis isn't really historically grounded enough, and relies too heavily on caricatures of those decades. The only thing that bumps it up from two stars to three is the chapter on militarism and pop culture, which was interesting.
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  • C.A. Gray
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book because my fiancee is obsessed with 1980s culture and I know next to nothing about it, so I was trying to get myself educated. The author seemed to assume that if you were reading the book, you would already understand all his references, so he dropped them all over the place without explanation... and as a result, I had a hard time following him for the first few chapters. After that, he got into his political opinions primarily, and became more explicit with his references bec I read this book because my fiancee is obsessed with 1980s culture and I know next to nothing about it, so I was trying to get myself educated. The author seemed to assume that if you were reading the book, you would already understand all his references, so he dropped them all over the place without explanation... and as a result, I had a hard time following him for the first few chapters. After that, he got into his political opinions primarily, and became more explicit with his references because he was trying to make the point that the 1980s brainwashed us into thinking 1) militarism is good; 2) we should pursue individual achievement, success, fame, money, glory, etc over the collective good of the nation; 3) as a result of the former, we worship celebrities in politics not based on what they can do for us, but based on the fuzzy intangibles they promise, and we don't bother to investigate what precisely they mean (and in general, we've established a culture of "celebrity for celebrity's sake" generally); and 4) we are now colorblind and racism no longer exists (nor should we talk about it anymore.) On one hand, the book was quite engaging. I certainly didn't get bored -- it's hard to get bored when the author is dealing with such controversial topics. I also did pick up on some of the underlying themes of 80s pop culture that had never been clear to me before (though whether they are legitimately present or he falsely emphasized a few aspects of them in order to make his point, I don't know. My fiancee is reading the book now and I'll let him tell me.) On the other hand, I do know a little bit about some of the political points he was trying to make, and in my opinion, although he lambasted a few key liberals as well, for the most part his opinions are extremely liberal. He calls into question the concept of capitalism, and he clearly considers it selfish (more government handouts! Yay!); every war he listed seems to draw his ire (he really only addressed Vietnam and the Gulf War) although he calls into question the idea that Vietnam vets were truly despised when they came home (which I've never heard anyone do, and I know from at least one personal story that it was true); and his take on race seems to propose no solutions but simply attack everybody from all sides. You're racist if you talk about race and you're racist if you don't talk about race. If you show the black community as being impoverished and filled with its own distinctive culture then you're perpetuating a negative image; if you don't do this, then you're perpetuating a false image, even if it's one that will further the colorblind mentality of white Americans. I was frustrated reading it, thinking, good grief, anybody can point out problems... where exactly are your solutions? His seemed to be in more Affirmative Action, which I believe perpetuates negative race relations and stereotypes rather than improves them. Personally, I'd want to be chosen on my merit, not the color of my skin... and if I *were* given an unfair advantage based on the color of my skin, I'd be (legitimately) concerned that others would wonder whether I were truly qualified for my position. I'm sure some racism does still exist, but I'd never heard the argument before that people who believe themselves to be colorblind (I'd consider myself one of these people, because I honestly don't even think about it) are nevertheless racist because we're unaware of the great economic disparity between races and think of black people as being "like us." Are we not supposed to think they're "like us?" Does constant awareness of cultural differences do anybody any favors? Usually it's commonality that brings people together. I find connection with anybody (different culture, different religion, different economic background, different age, etc) with the things I have in common with them. This doesn't mean I don't recognize that there are differences; I can ask about them and learn from them, but what allows us to forge a relationship is always commonality. I fail to see how this is a problem. So the book engaged me; it made me think about interesting topics; it also annoyed me. And it wasn't quite what I bargained for when I picked up the book.
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