Final Study Guide
Final Study Guide AMS 231
Popular in Contemporary America
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Popular in American Studies
This 11 page Study Guide was uploaded by Matt Owens on Monday December 14, 2015. The Study Guide belongs to AMS 231 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Stacy Morgan in Spring 2015. Since its upload, it has received 19 views. For similar materials see Contemporary America in American Studies at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.
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Date Created: 12/14/15
Matt Owens AMS 231 10/20 The End of The Cold War Fundamental Cold War Beliefs USSR is a ruthless aggressor, bend on world domination – so the US must act to contain Soviet expansion Subversive elements are acting within the US to sway it to communism Communism wants to destroy church, family, and civilization US material prosperity is a sign of moral superiority of the “American way of life” Fighting the Cold War in the 1980s Red Dawn o Reflective of the Cold War o Constant threat of invasion Reagan’s Agenda for Fighting the Cold War Restore military superiority: o More nuclear missiles and combat aircrafts Heavy economic toll for Soviet Union and the US The “Reagan Doctrine” Defend ‘American interests’ abroad (i.e. contain communism at all costs) Included providing weapons for forces across the globe to fight communism o Endorsed a lot of non-democratic nations o “It’s okay to support right-wing dictators because they sometimes evolve into democracies” Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Edward Teller Promise of “Mutual Assured Survival” Shoot down missiles with laser mounted on satellites o Renders nuclear weapons obsolete “Just as a roof protects a family from rain” The Fall of Soviet Communism Shift in Soviet outlook under Mikhail Gorbachev Thawing of Cold War tensions (1987 INF Treaty) What caused the fall? o Internal discord between various ethnic groups and regions o Extremely troubled economy Aggravated by trying to keep up with US military spending in the 1980s o Gorbachev’s gradual opening up of civil liberties Searching for a New Enemy From “Red Dawn” to “Yellow Peril” o Japanese imports (i.e. cars and electronics) o Japanese businesses in the U.S. o Perceived as sinister “invasion” or “silent war” against the US. EX: Lee Iacocca o Rising Sun (1993) Based on 1991 novel by Michael Crichton Sinister capitalism White and black unite to thwart the threat of Japanese business Kicking the “Vietnam Syndrome” Grenada: “Operation Urgent Fury” (1983) Panama: “Operation Just Cause” (1989) Iraq: “Operation Desert Storm” (1991) US News Media Coverage Vietnam War o Interviews ‘in the trenches’ o Body counts o My Lai o Moral ambiguity Gulf War o Press briefings and computer graphics o Weapons counts o Destruction of inanimate objects o Moral clarity American Art and the Culture Wars Questioning the “War” Metaphor Traffic (2000) The Wire (2002-2008) Attacks on Art American Family Association (AFA) o Rev. Donald Wildmon o Attacked “Last Temptation of Christ” National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) o Andres Serrano, “Piss Christ” (1987) Karen Finley, Performance Artist o We Keep Our Victims Ready (1989) Robert Mapplethorpe o The Perfect Moment exhibit (1989-1990) o “Joe” (1978) o “Torso” (1979) Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati (April 1990) o Dennis Barrie Arrested for obscenity Government Funding of the Arts Should government fund the arts? If so, should the public help to decide the form and content of government-sponsored art? If so, who is going to represent the voice of the public? The NEA Debates Rev. Wildmon, Jesse Helms, et al.: need to eliminate “taxpayer-funded pornography” & “immoral trash” VS Karen Finley, et al.: government shouldn’t legislate morality in art; sexual imagery does not equal pornography Sensation Sensation exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum (1999) o Chris Ofili, “The Holy Virgin Mary” (1996 Consequences for the Arts: Helm adds clause forbidding government funds for homoerotic art Artists must sign “anti-obscenity” pledge to get NEA funds NEA funding cut in half Broader Connections: Desire for reduced role for government Belief that the cultural sphere was contributing to a “moral decline” in US society “Moral Majority” tends to equate difference with “deviance” Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels at the Degenerate Art exhibition (1937- 1941) David Wojnarowicz, “Subspecies Helms Senatorius” (1990) TV Tabloid Talk Shows The New Tabloid Talk Show Formula o Major catalyst: The Ricki Lake Show (1993-2003) Aim younger (18-34) Aim “urban” (“subway audience”) Focus on personal relationship stories Increase pacing of show (# of guests) Recruit guests by “cart calls” o Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones, Maury Povich, and others follow suit Pro Wrestling & 1990s Masculinity “Reconstructed Men” of the 1970s o Woody Allen o Alan Alda o “Goodbye John Wayne?” Ms. (April 1978) Context: “Men’s Movements” of the 1990s Robert Bly, Iron John (1990) o Men Lack adequate male role models o Men need to rediscover themselves as men o ‘Men only’ bonding rites in nature to restore masculinity Promise Keepers Founded in 1990 by Bill McCartney (former U. Of Colorado football coach) Massive rallies in football stadiums & sports arenas Men pledge to reclaim their “proper role” as the head of the family & community Million Man March (1995) Louis Farrakhan o Age of a new black man Atoning for the past (poor fathers, etc.) Religious spin Pop Culture Satire: Magnolia (1999) o “Seduce and Destroy” Real life example: o “Men, Sex, & Power” weekend retreats The New Face of Pro Wrestling in the 1990s The Cultural Logic of Wrestling: 1980s o Characters: “Faces” – Good guys Hulk Hogan “Heels” – Bad guys Ted Dibiase (the “Million Dollar Man”) Primary audience: Kids & early teens 1990s: More graphic violence & vulgarity o Shift from Saturday morning to late night tv time slots o Matches with tables, ladders, and steel chairs o D-Generation X: “Suck it!” Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) “Hardcore” wrestling o Weapons o Audience participation o Less glitz than WWE Key virtue: willingness to absorb pain & take risks with one’s body Mick Foley 1990s: More Women Become Part of the Action 1980s: Miss Elizabeth as doting sidekick 1990s: Lita as highflying wrestler (and ‘eye candy’) Women’s Roles o Wrestlers o Eye Candy o Damsels in distress (‘innocent’ victims) o Vixens (‘deserving’ victims) o Trish Stratus, played all the roles 1990s: Blurring of Face/Heel Distinctions Clear cut hero and villain roles often break down; fans sometimes cheer ‘heels’ Stone Cold Steve Austin o “Don’t trust anyone” Nihilism o Anti-authority “rebel” or ruthless bully? Inventing Stone Cold o “Stunning Steve Austin” as a face with “Hollywood Blondes” tag team o Reinvents himself as “Stone Cold Steve Austin,” a beer drinking bad ass and self-proclaimed “redneck” “Real Men” in Pro Wrestling o Hyper-muscular physiques o Physical force = virtility = strength of character o Ability to withstand & inflict pain a key virtue o Explicitly contrasted to characters like… Goldust “Billy & Chuck” gay wedding storyline (2002) o Proposed marriage to his partner o Suddenly ‘rediscovered’ their heterosexuality Wrestling and the Culture Wars o Parents Television Council (PTC) o WWE responds with RTD (“Right to Censor”) EX: Val Venis A Cultural Fascination with (Male) Violence “Backyard wrestling” Jackass (2000-2002) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Club (1999) “Grrrl Power” & “Girl Power” in the 1990s Popular Culture Girl Power on TV Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) Charmed (1998-2006) Alias (2001-2006) Girl Power in Movies Tank Girl (1995) Charlie’s Angels (2000) Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) 1990s Contexts “Post-Feminism” Continuing Challenges o Wage discrepancies o Political gains and disparities o Anita Hill Riot Grrrls Music Context: Grunge o Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991) Political Context: Third Wave Feminism o “revolution girl style now!” o Bikini Kill: “All girls to the front!” Riot Grrrl Culture o Style: Punk + Third Wave Feminism o Reclaiming girlhood Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia (1994) o Sex positive feminism Writing on bodies The Internet Revolution Key Technological Breakthroughs Personal Home Computers Mouse Modem Web Browsers Debating the Internet (1990s) Douglas Rushcoff, Cyberia o Internet as “cyber-village hall” o “Cyberspace is a truth serum” o Freedom to reinvent one’s identity Critics o Inequality of access “Digital divide” Lack of control over content Online predators Financial Sexual Context: Increasing Privatization of American Life Putnam’s Thesis: o Withdrawal from public life is due to: Pressures of time and money More time devoted to technology and mass media Computer Technology = New Utopian Sense of Community? o Example: MCI’s “Anthem” ad (1997) New Features of Online Social Relationships Danah Boyd notes… o Persistence of content o Visibility: unstinted potential audiences o Spreadabiity: easy replication of content o Searchability of content The New Face(s) of America: The U.S. as a Multicultural Society Los Tigres del Norte “La Tumba del Mojado” (1992) (“The Wetback’s Grave”) Corridos: Mexican and Mexican American ballads; many deal with migration experiences Total foreign-born population in US: o In 1990: 19.8 million (8% of total population) o In 2010: 40 million (13% of total population) 1990s: 30% of foreign-born undocumented 2010: 28% of foreign-born undocumented %of population that was foreign-born o Miami, FL – 60% o Huntington Park, CA – 59% o Union City, NJ – 55% Immigration Anxieties Michael Douglas as “D-FENS” in Falling Down (1993) Responses to Latino Immigration Widespread fear that the U.S. was losing control of its borders Increased security measures and border patrols Popular culture examples: o Corridos by groups like Los Tigres del Norte o Bruce Springsteen, The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995) Barack Obama & “Post-Racial” America Hurricane Katrina (August-September 2005) People realized the racial divide 30% of all people under poverty line in New Orleans Hope & Change Pushes back against some prevailing political trends: o Government stimulus package for ailing economy o Health care reform o Advocates modest tax increases on wealthiest Americans o Ends War in Iraq o Advocates for marriage equality & repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “At Last”: Beyonce, Denzel, & the Inaugural Ball Yearnings for a “Post-Racial” America: “Buddy Films” of the 1980s & 1990s Popular Culture: New Racial Equations The Siege (1998) Agents Anthony “Hub” Hubbard, and Frank Habbab The ruins of Federal One Plaza (home of FBI in NYC) Racial Disparities in Policing In Ferguson, African Americans are: o 67% of the population o 85% of traffic stops o 93% of arrests Nationally, 45% of police departments have even more racially disproportionate arrest rates than Ferguson American Folk Music Now Spheres o High Art Classical Baroque Bach o Folk Bob Dylan Bluegrass Old Country o Pop Britney Spears Jazz Folk Culture’s Representation – Bluegrass Makeable instruments Silent outsiders – unsophisticated, etc. Bluegrass in Carnegie Hall o Bill Monroe declines to play in 1959 Thought producer was a communist o Chris Thile performs “Blind Leaving the Blind” 2008 o Punch Brothers play 3 days at Station Inn Annabel Lee – Another New World Josh Ritter – behind folklore, lyrics are more important than music – tell a story
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