Happy Days and Wonder Years: The Fifties and the Sixties in Contemporary Cultural Politics

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Rutgers University Press, Mar 19, 2004 - History - 280 pages
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In the twenty-first century, why do we keep talking about the Fifties and the Sixties? The stark contrast between these decades, their concurrence with the childhood and youth of the baby boomers, and the emergence of television and rock and roll help to explain their symbolic power. In Happy Days and Wonder Years, Daniel Marcus reveals how interpretations of these decades have figured in the cultural politics of the United States since 1970.

From Ronald Reagan's image as a Fifties Cold Warrior to Bill Clinton's fandom for Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, politicians have invoked the Fifties and the Sixties to connect to their public. Marcus shows how films, television, music, and memoirs have responded to the political nostalgia of today, and why our entertainment remains immersed in reruns, revivals, and references to earlier times. This book offers a new understanding of how politics and popular culture have influenced our notions of the past, and how events from long ago continue to shape our understanding of the present day.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Fifties in the 1970s Representations in a Cultural Revival
9
The Conservative Uses of Nostalgia
36
Nostalgia Embodied Ronald Reagan as Icon
60
Popular Culture and the Response to Conservative Nostalgia
92
Contests and Contestations The Sixties Legacy during the Decline of Reagan
119
The Reinflection of the Past The Presidential Election of 1992
150
Elvis Has Left the Building The Resurgence of the Right
171
Conclusion
204
Notes
207
Index
245
About the Author
265
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Daniel Marcus is an assistant professor in the department of communication at Wayne State University. As a member of the Paper Tiger Television collective, he edited ROAR! The Paper Tiger Guide to Media Activism.

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