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UA / American Studies / AMST 231 / How much faith do you have in the executive branch?

How much faith do you have in the executive branch?

How much faith do you have in the executive branch?


The 1960’s Legacy

How much faith do you have in the executive branch?

“Victory Culture” Assumptions

∙ USA is the unparalleled military might

∙ USA is the principal force for good on the global stage

∙ Loyalty to “God & Country” would lead to ever greater prosperity ∙ US leaders were of high moral character

Jerry Rubin and the 1960’s Counterculture

∙ Counterculture: Opting out of mainstream society

o Opposed to:

 Conformity

 Materialism

 Racial Inequality

 War in Vietnam

o Don’t want to follow the ‘typical American dream’

o Dominated by young adult

∙ People questioned their beliefs because “America had it so good” ∙ Older generation (experienced Great Depression) clashed with younger  generation (had it all)

Is usa a superpower?

∙ Used very similar tactics that the Civil Rights Movement used Hippies

∙ Majority were young adults

∙ Sex, drugs, and rock & roll

∙ Building alternative institutions:

o Communes

o Co-ops

∙ Key events:

o 1967: “Summer of Love” – San Francisco

o 1969: Woodstock (upstate New York)

Hippies vs. New Left

∙ Hippies

o College aged youth

o Ditch the system (‘drop out’; change your lifestyle)

o ‘Summer of Love (1967)

o Woodstock (1969)

∙ New Left

o College aged youth

How do you escape american dream?

o Change the system (‘revolution’)

o Columbia University takeover (1968) We also discuss several other topics like What are the key points of thermochemistry?

o SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)

Where Hippies and the New Left Converged

∙ Generation gap

∙ America needs to change its fundamental values

o Anti-materialism

o Anti-conformity

∙ Distrust of authority

∙ Opposition to the War in Vietnam

Chicago 1968: Democratic National Convention

∙ Tom Hayden & SDS Antiwar March (New Left)

∙ Jerry Rubin & The Yippie “Festival of Life” (Hippie)

o Consciously choosing not to do a protest of the convention

o Nominate a pig (Pigasus)  

∙ Gets extremely violent

∙ Police “lose their cool” and attack protesters when they lower US flag to half  mast

∙ Turning point for a lot of people in counterculture (lost faith)

Chicago 8

∙ 8 Leaders of these countercultures were tried with intent to start a riot ∙ Bobby Seale (Black Panther) was bound and gagged when he denounced the  judge

o Was going to be tried separately and sentenced to 5 years for  contempt in the court Don't forget about the age old question of What is the distinction between the sacred and the profane?

 Sentence was eventually overturned

Legacies of the Youth Counterculture

∙ Broadening the range of lifestyles

o Personal style: Hair and clothing

o Ideas about spirituality and sexuality

o Pursuit of happiness

Watergate: The Mother of All Scandals

Richard Nixon: Background

∙ Raised in Whittier, CA

∙ Whittier College and Duke Law School

o Whittier College was a small Quaker college

∙ Animosity toward northeastern “liberal elite” If you want to learn more check out What does retrovirus mean?

o Disdained liberal elites’ progressive racial politics

 He didn’t care for Jews or African Americans

 Retains his distrust for the rest of his life

o Said that liberal elites were “bright in the head, but weak in the  spine”

∙ Served in the Navy in WWII

o Lieutenant Commander

o Campaigned for congress in his uniform

∙ Congressman from CA (1946)

∙ Senator fro CA (1950)

o Anticommunist campaign

o “Tricky Dick” nickname Don't forget about the age old question of What refers to the sum of the atomic weights of atoms in a molecule?

∙ Vice-President under Dwight Eisenhower (1952-1960)

o Brief scandal about his campaign funds, but Nixon pushed it  aside

o Only 39 when he reaches Vice President

o Didn’t really get much stuff from Eisenhower to work on ∙ Loses narrowly to JFK in 1960 in Presidential race

o Poised to win until one of the first televised debates with JFK  Looked rough/unshaven and sweaty because he was  

fighting the flu We also discuss several other topics like What is the life expectancy of a person with rett syndrome?
We also discuss several other topics like What is the purpose of phytoplankton?

∙ Loses CA governor’s race in 1962

o Poised to win again, but he lost in the final weeks

∙ Returns and wins presidency in 1968

∙ “Silent Majority” speech (1969)

o The majority of people who are conservative/ have those ideals,  don’t organize protests, and aren’t as focused on – Nixon claimed he represented this majority

∙ “Western White House” in San Clemente, CA

Richard Nixon: Achievements

∙ Foreign policy: Constructive dialogues with China and Soviet Union o Much more than previous leaders

∙ Expanded social spending for public housing, and related welfare  programs

∙ Expanded National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

∙ Instituted affirmative action quotas for government contracts ∙ Created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

∙ Some claimed his was more of a liberal based on his actions A Rogue Administration

∙ 1970: New York Times breaks the story of secret bombings in  Cambodia

o Nixon orders wiretaps of reporters

o Nixon determined that White House’s “Plumbers” will “stop the  fucking leaks”

∙ 1971: Daniel Ellsberg leaks Pentagon Papers (government study about  US involvement in Vietnam that involved a ton of damaging details) o Pushed story of Nixon’s daughter’s wedding to the side o Plumbers break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist

1972 Campaign: “Dirty Tricks” Team

∙ Project headed by John Erlichman (Nixon’s Co-Chief of Staff) ∙ Examples:

o 200 pizzas and stink bombs to Democratic headquarters o Forged “Canuck letter” accusing Edmund Muskie of making  ethnic slurs

o Forged allegations of sexual misconduct by Humphrey and  Jackson

1972 Campaign: Committee for the Re-election of the President  (CREEP)

∙ Extorted money from Democratic contributors with threats of IRS and  SEC investigation

o “Democrats for Nixon”

o Example: George Steinbrenner

o Contributions go to bogus “non-profit” organizations

∙ “Enemies List”

∙ “Plumbers” bugged the offices of various Democratic Party leaders o Including the National Democratic headquarters

o Including the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate  hotel

Things Begin to Unravel

∙ Five men arrested at the Watergate Hotel

o James McCord, CREEP security coordinator

o Address books note Howard Hunt (“W. House”)

∙ Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy (Plumbers) also indicted as part of  this case

∙ The charges: conspiracy, burglary, wiretapping

Watergate Break-In: White House Response

∙ Publicly denied any link to the crimes

∙ Nixon order co-chief of staff to stop the FBI investigation (obstruction  of justice)

∙ Nixon approves the payoff of “hush money” to the Watergate burglars The News Media’s Role

∙ Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein, Washington Post

o Connected Howard Hunt back to the White House

o Traced CREEP campaign contribution to bank account of a  Watergate burglar

o Aided by “Deep Throat” (Mark Felt, FBI)

The Plot Thickens…

∙ All 7 plumbers tied to Watergate break-in are convicted, but… James  McCord writes a letter to Judge John Sirica confessing perjury and  White House involvement in the cover-up

∙ John Dean (Counsel to the President) decides to cooperate with  Watergate prosecutors

∙ Dean fired; H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman (Co-Chiefs of Staff) and  John Mitchell (Attorney General) all resign

∙ Elliot Richardson named new Attorney General and appoints Archibald  Cox as Watergate special prosecutor

The Watergate Hearings

∙ National TV spectacle for over a year

∙ Senator Howard Baker (R-TN): “What did the president know and when  did he know it?”

∙ Alexander Butterfield reveals the existence of Nixon’s Oval Office tapes (July 1973)

o Long legal battle for the tapes ensues

o Nixon tries to claim “executive privilege” when he was told to  surrender tapes around the time of Watergate

“Saturday Night Massacre” (October 1973)

∙ Elliot Richardson and his Deputy Attorney General refuse to fire Cox;  Robert Bork agrees to conduct the firing

∙ Negative public and news media backlash


∙ Vice President Spiro Agnew busted for bribery

o Pleads down to lesser charge of income tax evasion, bus has to  resign

∙ Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford named new VP

And Finally…

∙ Selected Nixon tapes released: Damaging impact (missing parts of the  tapes)

o Tarnished public image of the presidency

 Foul language (“expletive deleted”)

 Petty personal attacks

 Ethnic bigotry

o “Smoking Gun” tapes revealed

 Nixon ordered halt to the FBI investigation

 Nixon approved cover-up payoffs to Watergate burglars ∙ Nixon forced to resign, August 1974

The Aftermath

∙ Altogether 25 Nixon officials were convicted and imprisoned, including  4 cabinet members

∙ Gerald Ford, and Nelson Rockefeller now held the top two spots in the  US Government – neither one elected to those jobs

∙ Ford pardons Nixon in September 1974

Responses to Nixon’s Pardon

∙ Gil Scott-Heron

o “We Beg Your Pardon America” (Dec. 1974)

∙ Hunter Thompson

o “Fear and Loathing in Limbo: The Scum Also Rises” (Rolling  Stone, Oct. 1974)

Lasting Implications: Legislative

∙ Federal Election Campaign Act amended

o Creation of PACs (Political Action Committees)

∙ Freedom of Information Act strengthened

o “Executive privilege” claims face greater scrutiny

o FBI’s COINTELPRO exposed

 Inserted FBI agents in different movements

∙ FBI surveillance faces greater scrutiny

Lasting Implications: Cultural

∙ Press takes on more of a “watchdog” role

o More aggressive investigative journalism

o Concerns over media bias (Liberal vs conservative)

∙ Increased cynicism toward government

o Number of voters plummets

 53% of eligible voters in 1976 voted

o 1974 poll: How much faith do you have in the executive branch?  “A great deal”: 14%

 “Hardly Any”: 43%

The Deepening Malaise at Home & Abroad

OPEC Oil Embargo

∙ “Yom Kippur War” (October 1973)

o Conflict between Israel and Middle Eastern nations (especially  Syria and Egypt)

o US supported Israel (others angry about this stance)

∙ Oil Embargo (Oct. 1973-March 1974)

∙ OPEC raises the price per barrel of oil +370%

OPEC Oil Embargo: Aftermath

∙ Questions about continued upward mobility

∙ Rise of the “Sun Belt”

∙ Decline of the “Rust Belt”

Steps Taken Because of OPEC

∙ Limitations on gas

o Days for even/odd numbered license plates

o Limits on quantity

∙ Lowering speed limits

∙ Lower temps in house (during winter)

The 1970s Economy: Inflation & Its Consequences

∙ Cost of living: Increased at double digit rates

∙ Value of savings: Eroded

∙ Taxes: High

Inflation & Its Consequences

∙ Credit card use increases drastically

o Pre-1970s: “Never buy what you can’t afford”

o 1970s: “You can’t afford not to but it now”

∙ American savers become American investors (and speculators)

Jimmy Carter

∙ Former Baptist minister, and nuclear engineer

∙ Questions about his ability to be a strong leader

o Attacked by rabbit story

1979: Oil/Gas Shortages (AGAIN!)

∙ More rationing, and limits

∙ Over ½ of the nation’s gas stations close

∙ Inflation is sky high

∙ Jimmy Carter goes on a 10-day retreat and consults with many  different people/specialists

Iranian Hostage Crisis

∙ November 1979: 66 Hostages taken at the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran ∙ April 1980: Failed rescue mission

o Carter’s approval rating fell to 33%

∙ January 1981: Hostages released

∙ USA as superpower?

o Being pushed around by small nations

Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On” (1971)

∙ Asking questions about:

o War

o Ecology of the Planet

o The economy

o Etc.

Fragmenting Communities & Families

∙ Middle class “tax revolt”

∙ More personal freedom

∙ Less over social cohesion

∙ Family units more fragmented

o Higher % of adults remain single

o More senior citizen communities

o Divorce rates: doubled

Questioning Authority

∙ Public confidence in the medical establishment:

o 1966: 73%

o 1976: 42%

∙ Public confidence in major corporations:

o 1966: 55%

o 1976: 16%

∙ Public confidence in lawyers: 12%

∙ Public confidence in science also decreases

o Military applications

o Nuclear Energy

 Three Mile Island disaster in 1979


∙ Overall church attendance: Up

∙ Mainstream denominations: Down

∙ New Phenomena: Zen, Yoga, and Transcendental Meditation ∙ “Cults”

o EST: Werner Erhard

 Erhard – former car salesman

 Promised to rewire your consciousness  

o Jim Jones & the People’s Temple (Jonestown, Guyana)

 Convinced 100s of people to follow him to Jonestown

 Jim Jones: Insane, and financially corrupt

 Convinced 900+ of his followers to drink Koolaid with  cyanide to commit mass suicide “Don’t drink the Koolaid”

Sports Icon of the 1960s: Vince Lombardi

∙ Vince Lombardi

o Head coach of Green Bay Packers

o “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

Sports Icon of the 1970s

∙ Joe Namath (UA Alumni)

o More of a counterculture

∙ Muhammad Ali

o Society is against him in the 60s because of his commitment to  Islam, and his stance against authority

Movies & TV

∙ Movies beginning to show a different perspective

o Western in perspective of rebels rather than sheriffs

∙ All in the Family

o Shows conflict in family

The Women’s Movement

Early Steps

∙ President Kennedy’s Commission on Women

o The American Woman (1963)

∙ Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963)

o The Problem that has no Name

NOW Agenda (National Organization for Women)

∙ Equal opportunity in education and workplace

∙ End gender segregation of “help wanted” ads

∙ Equal pay for comparable work

∙ Child care and pregnancy leaves for working women

∙ End sex segregation of public establishments

∙ More equitable marriage partnerships

Women’s Liberation Movement

∙ Influences

o Civil Rights (SNCC)

 Giving a voice to the powerless

 Power of demonstrations

o New Left (SDS)

 Critiques of mainstream values

 Questioning authority

∙ Local, grass roots organizations

∙ Consciousness – Raising discussion groups

∙ Shelters for battered women

∙ Rape crisis centers

∙ “Take Back the Night” marches

o Against sexual assault

∙ Miss America Pageant: Atlantic City (1968)

o Protestors disrupted telecast

o Denounced beauty standards

Legislative Impact

∙ Abortion legalized

o Roe v. Wade (1973)

o Hyde Amendment (1976)

∙ Rape & Domestic Violence criminalized

o Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (1975)

o Before Women’s Liberation Movement, police considered  domestic violence as a private matter

∙ Sexual Harassment

o 90% of women said sexual harassment was a very serious  problem

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

∙ What it said:

o Section 1: Equality of right sunder the law shall not be denied or  abridged by the US or any state on account of sex

o Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by  appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article

o Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the  date of ratification

∙ Stop ERA

o Women’s group against the ERA

o Wanted to uphold the traditional women’s role (housewife) o Phyllis Schlafly: Stop ERA Organizer

o Successful movement, and the ERA dies

Medicine & Health

∙ Our Bodies, Our Selves (Boston Women’s Health Collective) ∙ Patients learn to question the medical establishment

∙ “Alternative Medicines” popularized


∙ Women enter new fields in increased numbers: Medicine, Law, Science, and Engineering

∙ Reshaping college curricula

o Women’s Studies courses and programs

o New content in traditional courses

Changing Faces in the Workforce

∙ New jobs began to open up for women

∙ Coal mining, bus drivers, construction, etc.


∙ Title IX – Education Amendments (1972)

∙ “No person in the US shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from  participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to  discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

∙ “Battle of the Sexes” (1973)

o Billie Jean King (female tennis player) defeats Bobby Riggs Music in the 1970s

∙ Holly Near “Imagine My Surprise” (1978)

∙ Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” (1979)

∙ Loretta Lynn “The Pill” (1974)


∙ First female super heroes

∙ The Bionic Woman (1976-1978)

∙ Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981)

Stonewall & Beyond


∙ The Psychiatric Diagnosis

o Irving Bieber (and many others said…)

 Homosexuality was a mental illness

 With treatment, homosexuals could be reformed into  


o These beliefs led to “Aversion therapy”

Challenges to the Medical Consensus

∙ Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) & Sexual  Behavior in the Human Female (1953)

o Widely read, reproduced in magazines

o Caused sense of shock and surprise

o Found that American men and women were much more sexually  active than previously thought

 83% of men, and 50% of women had pre-marital sex

o Found that sexual activity was much more diverse

∙ Evelyn Hooker, “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual” (1956) o Series of psychological profiles of everyday homosexuals and  heterosexuals

o Compares them to each other

o Presents results to psychological analysts and they can’t tell the  difference

o Homosexuality still remained on list as a mental illness (until  1973)

Political Repression in the 1950s

∙ Senator Joe McCarthy & Roy Cohn spearhead a purge of allegedly  homosexual employees from the U.S. State Department

o Argued homosexuality and communism are linked

 Commies could blackmail homos into giving secrets

∙ “Sexual perversion” equated with political subversion

∙ Executive Order 10405 (1953)

∙ Workplace purges

∙ Postal surveillance

∙ Increase in arrests of gay men and lesbians

o Raids on gay/lesbian bars

o Entrapment

Homosexuality in the Movies

∙ 1950s: Gay reference usually surface only in coded form ∙ 1960s: Openly gay characters reappear in films, but often meet tragic  & violent ends

o Murders, Suicides, accidents

The Homophile Movement

∙ The Mattachine Society

o One (monthly magazine)

∙ Daughters of Bilitis

o The Ladder (monthly magazine)

∙ Began with discussion groups

∙ Emphasis was on assimilation 

∙ Primary strategy: education

New Forms of Protest

∙ Pre-Stonewall Protest Strategies

o Protest marches (pickets, boycotts)

o Court battles against police entrapment

o Organizing gay and lesbian voting blocks

Stonewall: June 1969

∙ Oral History Accounts

o Craig Rodwell

o Sylvia Rivera

o Jim Fouratt

Post-Stonewall Activism

∙ New Groups:

o Gay Liberation Front

 Attempt to make alliances with other activist groups  

(women, civil rights, etc.)  

o Gay Activists Alliance

 Dedicated to specifically focusing on gay/lesbian issues ∙ New kinds of activism:

o Large public demonstrations

o Emphasis on “coming out”

o “Zaps”

 Political theater, they would directly confront  

political/business leaders in public setting (ambush) severe questioning

 Intended to create public pressure

Changing Forms of Protest

∙ Mattachines in 1965

∙ GAA in the early 1970s

∙ “Zap” at 1972 American Psychiatric Association Banquet ∙ Homosexuality finally removed from the APA’s list of mental illnesses in 1973

∙ First major Gay Pride March (1970)

∙ Global Ripples: GLF in London (1971)

Impact on Society

∙ Political Changes

o Openly gay and lesbian candidates elected

 Elaine Noble, Massachusetts

∙ Openly gay, elected House of Re. (1974)

 Harvey Milk, San Francisco

∙ Board of Supervisors (1977)

o Gay voters begin to wield more political clout

o 40 cities enact gay rights protections

∙ Changes in Gay Male Life

o Signature community: Castro district in San Francisco

o New openness and visibility – especially in cities

o More gay bars and other businesses, catering to a diversity of  tastes

 In the 70’s, dancing at bars (disco especially) became  

much more important to gay men

o Gay fitness culture and consumer culture

∙ Changes in Lesbian Life

o Signature communities: communes in college towns and rural  areas

o Center of community life: consciousness raising groups;  “women’s music” concerts

o Tended to disdain materialism and consumerism

Popular Culture Changes

∙ New kinds of movies: The Boys in the Band (1970)

∙ Products aimed specifically at gay consumers

The Mainstreaming of Gay Style: Disco

∙ Disco first popularized in gay clubs, with heavy Black & Latin musical  influences

∙ Saturday Night Fever (1977) & The Bee Gees

The Backlash

∙ Anita Bryan & “Save Our Children”

o “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit” (i.e.  threat to children)

o Helped to repeal gay rights protection ordinances in many cities ∙ The Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6)

o Sought to bar homosexuals from teaching in California public  schools

 Again, images of children in peril

 Again, blurring lines between homosexuality and child  

molestation in antigay rhetoric

o Measure rejected by voters (1978)

∙ Increase in Anti-Gay Violence

o Murders

 Robert Hillsborough (1977)

∙ Stabbed 15 times while murderer (John Cordova)  

repeatedly screams “faggot”

 Harvey Milk (1978)

∙ Dan White pleads the “Twinkie defense”

o Dan white shoots Mayor and City Supervisor in  

city hall

o Got off with only 7 years

o Arsons and bombings against Metropolitan Community Churches  and gay/lesbian bar

∙ Backlash at the Movie: The “Dangers” of Homosexuality o Freebie & the Bean (1974)

 Detective uncovers a serial killer as a transvestite

 Shoots transvestite 7 times in climax of the film

o Windows (1980)

 Woman pursued by psychotic lesbian stalker

o Cruising (1980)

 Cop goes undercover in gay scene to find serial killer that’s targeting gay men – left off leaving the cop as maybe  

picking up where the killer left off and killing his gay  


o Gay bashing films

Ronald Reagan’s America 

∙ American Graffiti (1973)

o Director: George Lucas

∙ Nostalgia for the imagined innocence of the 1950s & early 1960s youth culture

∙ TV spin-off: Happy Days (1974-1984)

∙ Deconstructing War Movies & Westerns (1970s)

o M.A.S.H (1970)

o Blazing Saddles  

∙ George Lucas longed for the return of more conventional war movies  and inspirational stories

o Star Wars (1977): Recapturing the innocence of the 1950s/50s  American movies (Victory Culture)

Ronald Reagan: Reassertion of Victory Culture Values

∙ Knew how to work mass media

o Nick-named “the mass communicator”

∙ Both liberal critics, and conservative supporters miss the full impact of  his presidency

∙ Early Years:

o Born in 1911 (Oldest US president ever)

o Illinois childhood

o Reagan later said it was like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and  Tom Sawyer

o Reagan liked to reference his early years with Norman Rockwell,  “Freedom of Want” (1943)

o Worked with WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa (1934-1937) o Reagan moves to Hollywood (1937)

o Reagan as George Gipp in Knute Rockne – All American (1940)  Reagan as “The Gipper” (1984)

∙ Line from movie was to “Go Win One for the Gipper”

o World War II in Hollywood making films for the Army Air Corps o Reagan with first wife Jane Wyman (1944)

 Couple divorced in 1949, and Wyman retained custody

∙ Reagan in the Early 1950s:

o Reagan’s second wife: actress Nancy Davis

o Screen Actor’s Guild President (1947-1952)

o Fervent Anti-Communist

o General Electric’s “ambassador of goodwill” (1954-1962) ∙ Reagan’s Basic Speech

o Entertaining anecdotes

o Warnings about contemporary threats (communism)

o Praise of “traditional values”

o Private enterprise & American individualism vs. “Big  

Government” (Social Welfare & High Taxes)

∙ The New Right: Agenda

o Cut social programs

o Cut taxes

o Free market capitalism (Deregulate industry)

o Meet Soviet challenge with military might

o Grow Big Business, Shrink Government

o Senator Barry Goldwater (AZ)

∙ Governor of California (1966-1974)

∙ Paving the Way for Reagan

o Proposition 13 (CA, 1978)

 “Tax Revolt”

o Moral Majority (1979)

 Rev. Jerry Falwell: attacks the “permissiveness” of “liberal  causes” (I.e. the ERA, gay rights, social welfare, affirmative action, arms control, abortion rights, environmentalism)

o Jimmy Carter’s seeming inaction vs. Reagan as a “man of action” ∙ Champion of “Traditional Values” AND New Technology:  o Early career in mass media shapes his presidency

o Growth of the information economy (Silicon Valley)

o Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)

Film and Society in Reagan’s America 

Major Trends in the Film Industry

∙ Blockbuster films

∙ More screens

∙ New technology

o VCRs

o Cable TV

∙ Sequels  

o Profits

o Reassurance through repetition

Back to the Future

∙ Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign ad (1984) ∙ Reagan’s desire to restore the countries great values

∙ Victory culture is back

∙ Economic security

∙ “Things are looking up”

∙ Back to the Future (1985)

o Character was transported back in time to 1955

∙ Field of Dreams (1989)

o Baseball (the American game) is a vehicle to view America as the great place it was, and renew that pride

o The Real Baseball in the 1980s

 Drug scandals

 Sex scandals

 Fan resentment toward “overpaid” players

∙ Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

o References that the reason we didn’t win Vietnam was doubt  from Americans

Men of Action

∙ Strong willed men of action

∙ Get things done

∙ Defined boundary between good and evil

∙ Bruce Willis in Die Hard (1988)

∙ See also:  

o Sylvester Stallone

o Chuck Norris

o Arnold Schwarzenegger

o Mel Gibson

o Harrison Ford

Yuppies in Film

∙ Wall Street (1987)

o Intended to be a critique of yuppie values

∙ Some films critical of yuppies, some are not

Alternative Visions

∙ Boyz N the Hood (1991)

o Violence

o Other side of Reagan’s America

o Negative view

∙ Raising Arizona (1987)

o Satirical

The Yuppies 

Demographic Profile

∙ Young: Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964)

∙ Urban

∙ Professional or management job

∙ Income above $40,000/year

∙ Upward mobility

o Difference between Yuppie and Preppy (Preppy doesn’t have  upward mobility, kind of born into it)

∙ The Yuppie Handbook (1984)

Yuppie Values & Lifestyles

∙ Money

o Dallas (1978-1991)

o Dynasty (1981-1987)

o Family Ties (1982-1989) – Alex Keaton

 Former hippy parents, son is an upcoming yuppie

∙ Gourmet Tastes

o Restaurants

o Designer Kitchens

o Gourmet Supermarkets

∙ Travel

o Desire for the “expanded experiences of the planet” – Liz  Tankersley

∙ Yuppies & Work: A New Brand of “Go-Getter”

o Loyalty to own careers more than to particular companies o Other enterprises beyond jobs

o Social ties defined by shared professional interests

o Consumed by time

∙ Fitness

o Working on the body

o Fitness clubs as a social scene: Perfect (1985)

∙ Family & Relationship Patterns

o More women claiming both careers and families

o “Our marriages seem like mergers, our divorces like divestitures” – Rob Lewis

o Added stage of life cycle (double income, no kids)

∙ Urban Living

o Real estate

o Gentrification

∙ Yuppie Religion

o Rev. Terry Cole-Whittaker

o How to Have More in a Have-Not World (1983)

o “You can have it all – now”

o PTL Ministry: Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker

∙ Yuppie Politics

o Range of political opinions from liberal to conservative (43%  claimed they were independents), but…

o General trend towards centrist politics:  

 Liberal on social issues

 Conservative on economic issues

o Gary Hart

 Democratic candidate

 Lost to another democratic candidate, and Hart’s yuppie  supporters (40%) switched and voted for Raegan

The Generational Shift

∙ Jerry Rubin: From Yippie to Yuppie

∙ Bobby Seale

o Barbeque’n with Bobby Seale

∙ The Big Chill (1983)

The Yuppie Influence on Consumer Culture

∙ Omega Watches: “When you can have whatever you want” (1983) ∙ L’Oreal: “I’m Worth It.” (1988)

∙ Consumer Choices:  

o Ford Model T vs. Range of Porsches

∙ Increasing customization of consumer choices

Backlash Against the Yuppies

∙ Satires in news media, political cartoons, fiction, and movies ∙ Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991)

Yuppies: Lasting Impacts

∙ Rampant & increasingly diverse consumerism

∙ Preference for cities rather than suburbs for many young adult  professionals

∙ New stage in life cycle: period of adulthood without children and/or  marriage

∙ The rise of centrist politics (Bill Clinton)

The Decline of the Rust Belt: Deindustrialization & Its Consequences 

Economic Imbalances

∙ Job Growth:  

o Defense industry

o Technology

o Real Estate

o Corporate Agribusiness

o Region:

 Sun Belt (West Coat & South)

 Ex: Silicon Valley

∙ Job Loss:

o Steel & Automobiles

o Mining

o Family Farms

o Region:

 Rust Belt (Midwest & Northeast); Appalachia

 Ex: Flint, Michigan

Decline of the Rust Belt: Contributing Factors

∙ Rising costs of oil & labor

∙ Increasing competition from foreign imports

∙ Technological advances in the workplace

∙ Relative mobility of capital

o Government deregulation

o “Right to Work” legislation

o Company lockouts of workers

The Rust Belt: The Reagan Contribution

∙ 1981 National Economic Recovery Act

o Cut personal income taxes 25% across the board over a 33- month period

o Cut max. capital gains tax from 28% to 20%

∙ Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws (corporate mergers) ∙ Deregulation

∙ Hostility to organized labor

o Ex: firing 11,000+ air traffic controllers (1981)

“Supply-Side Economics”

Corporations’ share of federal tax burden decreases

Increasing Disparities of Wealth: The Numbers at the Top

∙ Number of US millionaires grows from 4400 in 1980 to 35,000 in 1987 ∙ 1990 numbers:

o income of richest 1% = income of bottom 40%

o income of richest 5% = income of bottom 60%

Wealth Disconnected from Productivity

∙ Corporate mergers & “junk bond” trading

o Ex: Michael Milken

 Recognizes the free market economy

 Sold off assets of companies he bought to pay for new  companies he’s buying

∙ 1980: The average US CEO made 40 times the amount of average  employee

∙ 1989: The average US CEO made 93 times the amount of an average  employee

Wealth Disparities: The Numbers at the Bottom

∙ 1 of every 3 working Americans had an annual income below the  poverty line during the 1980s

∙ Minimum wage frozen at $3.35/hour in 1981; not increased until 1991  ($4.25/hour)

o Yearly income (40-hour work week)

 $3.35  $6,968

 $4.25  $8,840

∙ Increasing size of homeless population

A Culture Response

∙ Minutemen, “This Ain’t No Picnic” (1984)

∙ Roger & Me (1989)

o Flint, Michigan 1950s vs. 1980s

 50’s – GM supported Flint with jobs, both company and  individuals profiting

 80’s – GM closes factories, begins outsourcing. Individuals  blame GM for town falling apart

 City officials toss money towards tourist attractions

∙ Flop within a year

Bruce Springsteen’s America

Springsteen’s Early Life & Career

∙ 1949 in Freehold, New Jersey: an industrial, Rust Belt town ∙ Early influences: Elvis, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan

∙ Earns reputation with long, high-energy live shows

Key Theme: “Runaway American Dreams”

∙ Youthful desperation: need to escape

∙ Why?

o Roles of adulthood offered by life in a working class factory town  are a “cage”

o To continue to live within this cage = “suicide”

∙ How does one escape?

o Through cars and rock & roll music (often with a girl)

Nebraska (1982)

∙ Themes: Desperation, isolation, disappointment

∙ Stories of people giving up on their “runaway American dreams” Born in the USA (1984)

∙ Attempt to take messages from Nebraska & reach a broader audience o Working with East Street Band again

o MTV videos

o World tour

∙ Huge commercial success

∙ 1984 Republican National Convention: “Born in the USA” o Not really a match to the song

“Black Noise”: Rap Music & Hip-Hop 

Deindustrialization & Rap Music

∙ The Bronx (NYC)

∙ South Central L.A.

∙ Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, “The Message” (1982) Graffiti

∙ “Tagging” (Taki 183)

∙ “Bombing”

∙ Really takes of in NYC in 70s

∙ Especially on Subway walls and train cars

∙ Nickname and street name

∙ Competitive

∙ Key Themes

o Identity

o Location


∙ Multiethnic youth subculture

∙ Competitive “crews” (neighborhood based)

∙ Style Wars (1983)


∙ “Cutting” & “Scratching”

∙ DJ’s used Funk & Soul records initially, but then everything changed ∙ Caribbean Influences

∙ DJ Kool Herc

Rap Music

∙ Precursor: “Toasts”

o Oral tradition

o Rhymed stories

o “Badman” characters

o Ex: “Shine”

∙ Rap adds music and emphasizes contemporary themes Rap & the Music Business

∙ MTV late to the party

∙ Yo! MTV Raps debuts in 1988

∙ Numerous commercial radio stations ban “rap”

∙ Independent labels, BET, local cable access play crucial roles ∙ Run DMC’s mainstream breakthrough

∙ Raising Hell (1986) goes platinum

∙ “Walk this Way” video with Aerosmith (1986)

Rap Music: Key Themes

∙ Identity

∙ Location

∙ Destructiveness of drug use, alcohol, & prostitution

∙ Need to break cycles of violence & poverty within black communities ∙ Urban decay

∙ Police brutality & racial profiling

∙ Mass incarceration of young black men

The AIDS/HIV Crisis 


∙ 1981-1982

o First notice of unusual patterns of a rare pneumonia (LA) &  Kaposi’s Sarcoma (NYC)

o Disease initially termed GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) o Formation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis

o By late 1982, c.1300 US AIDS deaths

∙ 1982-1984

o “4-H” risk groups identified:  

 Hemophiliacs, Haitian immigrants (found out it’s not  

accurate), heroin addicts, & homosexuals (1982)

 New name: AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome  (1982)

 HIV virus identified as causative agent; method s of  

transmission identified (1983-84)

 By 1984, 7600+ US AIDS/HIV deaths

∙ 1985-1986

o FDA licenses the first tests to detect an antibody for the HIV virus (1985)

o Rock Hudson dies (1985)

 Turning point

o Ryan White infected by blood transfusion (1985)

 Barred from public school

 Eventually won the right to go back in court

o By 1986, 31,000+ US AIDS/HIV deaths

∙ 1987-1990

o Ronald Reagan finally gives a short speech about the AIDS crisis  (1987)

 Didn’t mention sex at all

 Took so long because basically he didn’t want to associate  himself with homosexual events

o Lessons on causes of AIDS/HIV transmission begin to entre public schools

o AZT released in 1987, but cost is high

o Formation of ACT-UP

o By 1990, over 59,000 US AIDS/HIV deaths

∙ Early 1990s

o Magic Johnson announces that he is HIV+ (1991)

o Philadelphia (1993)

o By 2002, over 500,000 U.S. AIDS/HIV deaths

Scientific Community Responses

∙ Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On (1987)

o Movie adaptation (1993)

Mapping AIDS/HIV within the US

∙ Imagined primarily as a coastal phenomenon (San Francisco and NYC) ∙ AIDS/HIV relatively invisible in the Midwest & South

∙ Abraham Verghese, My Own Country (1994)

Gay Community Responses

∙ Larry Kramer, “A Personal Appeal” (1981)

∙ Gay Men’s Health Crisis formed in 1982

∙ Debates over bathhouses in San Francisco (1983-84)

∙ New Activist Groups: ACT-UP and Queer Nation

Cultural Impact:  

∙ Rumors & Fears Run Wild

o You can get AIDS from toilet seats

o “God’s punishment for homosexuals”

o Gay men are trying to infect general population

o Urban legend of “AIDS Mary”

o AIDS = CIA plot to destroy Africa/Black America

∙ New Attitudes Toward Sex

o More open view of sex

o Advertising for use of condoms

o Frank Moore, “Safe Fantasy” (1988)

o Showing up in higher society as well

∙ Names Project, AIDS Memorial Quilt

o (1986-present)

o Cleve Jones

∙ Gregory Dean Smalley (1964-1996)

Drive-By Truckers “The Living Bubba” (1998)

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