Sunday, April 21, 2013

I was right!

If National Geographic Channel can be believed   So it's been running a series on the 80s.  That's the 1980s.  The decade that formed me.  I was in 8th grade in 1980, and graduated college in 1990 (the extra year due to changing majors). So I'm somewhat familiar with the 80s.  I haven't watched the show, since shows like that are usually more flash than substance.  But I've seen a few clips here and there.

Last night, I caught the part where they talked of the TV movie The Day After.  For those who don't remember, that was a little Hollywood love letter to Ronald Reagan, explaining in dramatic form that his policies would lead to nuclear annihilation   It wasn't presented that way by Nat Geo.  Though the impact it had on Reagan was mentioned.  That made me wonder what impact it might have if we had Hollywood productions that directly attacked the policies of Obama or Clinton.  Might it jar them?  Not that Reagan was jarred the way the producers wanted.  It only encouraged him to step up his resolve to economically break the floundering Soviet Union.

But it did impress upon Reagan the need to step up, since each day we were at a nuclear standoff was a day someone could flinch.  Again, the Nat Geo show didn't mention that the movie itself was part of the grand 'we're all going to die because Reagan's president' mantra that we heard from the day Reagan took office.  Pushed by the emerging Left as the Boomer liberals began to seize control of our cultural institutions  the difference between 1980s and the 1950s was twofold: first, unlike the 50s where everyone knew there could be a nuclear war, in the early 80s, we were told there would be a nuclear war.  Big difference.  And unlike the 50s, where it was those rascally Ruskies who were the baddies and the reason why, if there's ever a war, it will be due to their godless evil, in the 80s, courtesy of the emergent Left, the reason for our inevitable doom was, well, us.  The US.   The warmongering Right and old Imperialist Washington.  We had met the enemies, and it was us.

Ronald Reagan as seen in the anti-Reagan video
for Genesis' song "Land of Confusion"
What Nat Geo did do was link this to an observation I've made for years.  For more than 20 years I've told people, including my parents, that this generation of instant gratification may not have started in the 80s, but it was given high octane gas in the 80s and put into hyper-drive.   This drumbeat of inevitable doom couldn't help but impress on a certain generation of young people the idea that saving and planning long term were exercises in futility.  Why worry about tomorrow when tomorrow won't be there?  While not the only reason, as no thing ever has only one reason, I've long maintained that the rather purposeful pounding on the desk that Reagan was going to kill Earth had a profound impact on an entire generation, even if we didn't realize it at the time.

Of course, again, Nat Geo doesn't link this to a politically motivated stunt or anything.  But it does say that the feeling of inevitable destruction may have had an impact on the decline of savings and preparing for later years in life that we see today (dropping interest rates are probably another reason, but that's for some other time).  Not that those of us alive couldn't see that by late 1983 when the movie aired, Reagan may not have been so keen to nuke the world as we'd been told.  It was clear by late 83 and early 84 that he wasn't planning on nuking everyone, that the economy was improving  and that America seemed strong again.  Which is why he was reelected.  But Hollywood tried its best to scare the bejesus out of us, and it did have an impact, even on Reagan himself.  For good or ill.  What impact might a Hollywood assault on the HHS mandate have I wonder.  But far easier was it to imagine a nuclear holocaust in 1983 than a 2013 Hollywood production that would ever challenge a liberal Democrat president.

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