Seeing Through the Eighties: Television and Reaganism

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Duke University Press, Oct 26, 1995 - Performing Arts - 168 pages
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The 1980s saw the rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right in American politics, the popularity of programs such as thirtysomething and Dynasty on network television, and the increasingly widespread use of VCRs, cable TV, and remote control in American living rooms. In Seeing Through the Eighties, Jane Feuer critically examines this most aesthetically complex and politically significant period in the history of American television in the context of the prevailing conservative ideological climate. With wit, humor, and an undisguised appreciation of TV, she demonstrates the richness of this often-slighted medium as a source of significance for cultural criticism and delivers a compelling decade-defining analysis of our most recent past.
With a cast of characters including Michael, Hope, Elliot, Nancy, Melissa, and Gary; Alexis, Krystle, Blake, and all the other Carringtons; not to mention Maddie and David; even Crockett and Tubbs, Feuer smoothly blends close readings of well-known programs and analysis of television’s commercial apparatus with a thorough-going theoretical perspective engaged with the work of Baudrillard, Fiske, and others. Her comparative look at Yuppie TV, Prime Time Soaps, and made-for-TV-movie Trauma Dramas reveals the contradictions and tensions at work in much prime-time programming and in the frustrations of the American popular consciousness. Seeing Through the Eighties also addresses the increased commodification of both the producers and consumers of television as a result of technological innovations and the introduction of new marketing techniques. Claiming a close relationship between television and the cultures that create and view it, Jane Feuer sees the eighties through televison while seeing through television in every sense of the word.

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The MadeforTV Trauma Drama Neoconservative Nightmare or Radical Critique?
The Yuppie Spectator
Yuppie Envy and Yuppie Guilt LA Law and thirtysomething
Art Discourse in 1980s Television Modernism as Postmodernism
Serial Form Melodrama and Reaganite Ideology in Eighties TV
The Reception of Dynasty
Overturning the Reagan Era
Trauma Dramas
Yuppie Programs

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Page 4 - Resistive reading practices that assert the power of the subordinate in the process of representation and its subsequent pleasure pose a direct challenge to the power of capitalism to produce its subjects-in-ideology. The way that people understand themselves and their social relations is part of the social system itself. Any set of social relations requires a set of meanings to hold it in place...
Page 17 - period" in question is understood not as some omnipresent and uniform shared style or way of thinking and acting, but rather as the sharing of an objective situation, to which a whole range of varied responses and creative innovations is then possible, but always within that situation's structural limits.

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About the author (1995)

Jane Feuer teaches film studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of The Hollywood Musical and coeditor of MTM: "Quality Televison."

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