Reagan and the 80s Movie Term Paper

Pages: 17 (4752 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: American History


The objective of this work is to take a closer look into popular movies in the 1980s and the role Ronald Reagan's presidency played in them. This work will take three different years in the 1980s, or specifically the years of 1982, 1985, and 1986, and parallel them with two different genres: Teen Comedy and Drama and show how these films follow the same narrative. This narrative will follow the theme of (1) Outsiders; (2) Redemption; and (3) Victory.

The era of the Regan administration is one that is characterized by a slipping away from morals and values traditionally held evidenced in the breakdown of the traditional family structure, racial turmoil, crime, school problems, drugs, and declining sexual morality. Reagan was one of the most popular among U.S. President in the 20th century. Writer, Robert Stacy McCain, for the Washington Times states of Regan that Reagan "transformed politics and government while ensuring that the United State could win the Cold War." (2004) McCain goes on to relate that Reagan personified (in the eyes of many) "the American dream. Rising from a poor Midwestern family to movie stardom on his talent and good looks..." (Ibid)

Overview of Reagan's Policies (Reaganomics)

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While Reagan's policies did not always find popularity a national poll toward the end of his presidency showed that 68% of Americans approved of the job he was doing. (Ibid; paraphrased) Ronald Reagan was witty, quick, and good with people. In 1981 the largest tax cut in U.S. History was won by Reagan from Congress. Reagan called his economic plan, which has been called 'Reaganomics' included cutting taxes, deregulation of private enterprises and savings and investment incentives. In fact Reagaonmics were comprised of four primary elements for reversal of the: "...high-inflation, slow-growth economic record of the 1970s" (Niskanen and Moore, 1996) Those four elements were:

Term Paper on Reagan and the 80s Movie Assignment

1) a restrictive monetary policy designed to stabilize the value of the dollar and end runaway inflation;

2) a 25% across-the-board tax cut enacted (the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981) designed to spur savings, investment, work, and economic efficiency;

3) a promise to balance the budget through domestic spending restraint; and 4) an agenda to roll back government regulation." (Niskanen and Moore, 1996)

By late in the year of 1982 the national recession was winding down and experienced a strong recovery in the following years. Another factor that must be considered is the fact that media growth in the 1980s was astronomical with cable television, CNN and satellite television all being developed during this decade. The work entitled: "Movies and the Reagan Presidency: Success and Ethics" states that: "The 1980s were unique in both American history and the history of the cinema. It was a time when a United States president - a former B-movie actor and Cold War industry activist -- served as a catalyst for the coalescence of trends Hollywood's political structure, mode of production, and film content. Ronald Reagan championed a success ethos that recognized economic and moral self-governance as the basis of a democratic society." (Jordan, 2003) Reagan's tax reform and deregulation of the industry brought about diversification through conglomerates with movie production and release achieving a: "maximum revenue potential." (Jordan, 2003)

In the work entitled: "Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media" the authors relate the statement of Ralph Nader as follows:

the founders [of the United States] guaranteed freedom of the press because they knew democracy required rich and diverse sources of information and ideas." (McChesney and Nichols, 2002)

Related as well is the Wilsonian view that: " elite of gentlemen with 'elevated ideals' should govern in order to sustain 'stability and righteousness'. The intelligent minority of 'responsible men' must control decision making." (McChesney and Nichols, 2002) it is a view that looks kindly upon suppression of the masses by the 'responsible men' for the public's own good'. It is stated that: "the modern public relations industry was strongly influenced by Wilsonian progressives who advocated 'the engineering of consent' a technique of control employed by the responsible men for the benefit of the flock, the ignorant masses whose minds must be 'regimented as much as an army regiments their bodies." (McChesney and Nichols, 2002)

McChesney and Nichols state that: "The claim that American media is the result of market competition won by a handful of multinational corporations is one of the Big Lies that media firms desperately propagate." (2002) the truth is that the media is "the direct result of government action- laws and regulatory policies- that established not just the playing field but the winners of the game." (McChesney and Nichols, 2002)

Background of Ronald W. Reagan

Ronald W. Reagan was a Democrat who greatly admired Franklin Roosevelt however, during the 1950's Reagan's policies as well as his ideals shifted toward conservatism. In 1962 Reagan changed his registration to that of a Republican. In 1966 Reagan ran for Governor of the state of California and won against incumbent Democratic Governor 'Pat' Brown and served two consecutive terms. It was at this time that Reagan gained political attention on a national scale. At the time Reagan left office as California's Governor the state had a $550 million surplus. (Curry, 2004) Reagan married Jane Wyman and then after they divorced married his wife former first lady, Nancy David Reagan. Reagan was not a spotless individual however, he was viewed as extremely moral and ethical. Another important characteristic of Reagan was his ability to understand the need and desire for those who lead to provide symbolic leadership as well if those they lead are to feel secure in their leader. Reagan was an example that others have since attempted to emulate however, what was easy for Ronald Reagan has proven more difficult for others. Reagan was also an excellent communicator and seemed genuine, warm, sincere and patriotic from the heart as far as one could perceive. Reagan sprang from the roots of America from a working-class family out of the Midwestern United States. He first began his career as a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs over the station 'WHO'. (Curry, 2004) it is stated that Reagan "often cast as the foil to leading men like Errol Flynn, Reagan was best known for the 1940 film "Knute Rockne, All American," in which he played Notre Dame football star George Gipp." (Curry, 2004) Curry relates that story told by Reagan about the time he played the character Drake McHugh in the drama entitled "Kings Row." Drake McHugh, awoke from anesthesia to find out that a surgeon, sadistic by nature, had amputated his legs and asks: "Where's the rest of me?" Reagan states, as related by Curry (2004) that: "At night I would wake up staring at the ceiling an automatically mutter the line before I went back to sleep. No single line in my career has been so effective in explaining to me what an actor's life must be." (the Autobiography of Ronald Reagan as cited by Curry, 2004) During World War II Reagan made Army Air Force training films. During the 1950's Reagan hosted a television series, specifically "General Electric Theater." During 1964 Reagan gave a speech that was broadcast on national television supporting Barry Goldwater, Republican candidate. Curry (2004) states that: "The speech was a Reaganesque recasting of FDR rhetoric: "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny," Reagan said. "We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we can sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness." (Curry, 2004)

I. Outsiders

Reagan decided to seek the nomination of the Republican Party for the U.S. Presidency in 1980. Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter, the incumbent Democratic candidate and won with 489 electoral votes to Carter's 49. Reagan took office on January 20, 1981. Only a few weeks after having began the Presidency in earnest Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. "a deranged would-be assassin." (Curry, 2004) the story is told that when Reagan came out of surgery, he looked at his wife, Nancy and said: "Honey, I forgot to duck." (Curry, 2004) This line was one that was stated by Jack Dempsey in 1926 when he lost the heavyweight boxing title to Gene Turney. (Curry, 2004) Having barely missed death by assassination, Ronald Reagan stood facing three years of nothing but one crisis after another. At years-ending 1982 the United States was in the worst recession since the 1930s and almost 12 million were unemployed. Reagan, in an attempt to provide stimulation to the economy, had supported the tax cuts of Kemp in 1981 but had agreed to a $100 billion increase in taxes in 1983 a decision based on the word of Bob Dole that for every $1 in tax increase congress would make $3 in spending cuts however, Congress failed to do so. Simultaneously the Federal Reserve was "squeezing inflation out of the economy by restricting the money supply." (Curry, 2004)

The year of 1981 was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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