Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

10) The Consuming 1980s

Events and Policies

- Ronald Reagan (1911-2004, in office 1981-1989, 40th President)

- George H. W. Bush (b. 1924, in office 1989-1993, 41st President)

Cold War Operations (1947-1991)

- Reagan broke the Helsinki Accords (1975) and revived the Cold War patriotism and anti-communist feelings

- escalated investment into defence system, especially in a space-based defence system, dubbed Star Wars (1983)

- the US boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics (1980), the USSR the Los Angeles Summer Olympics (1984)

- the General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev opened the USSR to a more capitalistic way of life, negotiated to end the Cold War and so ‘deprived America of an enemy’

- the Eastern Bloc dissolved, the Berlin Wall fell (1989), and the USSR collapsed (1991)

Middle East Conflicts

- Iranian Revolution (1979): the overthrow of Pahlavi’s monarchy and establishment of a republic under Khomeini

- Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989): the USSR invaded Afghanistan to support the Marxist government against the mujahideen resistance supported by resources from US and other states in the context of the Cold War

- Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988): based on border disputes, successively both Iraq and Iran were supported by the US


- supply-side economics: support for people producing goods and services, including reduction of income taxes

- reduced public spending on health care, social security, education, etc., reduced government control on economy

- increased defence budged, raised national debts and turned the US from the biggest creditor to the biggest debtor

- the policies were designed to help the country out of the economic depression, which they eventually did

- the most prosperous branches: the Wall Street stock exchange, real estate (Donald Trump becomes an epitome of a real estate success), business services (lawyers), defence contracting, hi-tech business


- yuppies (Young Urban Professionals): a new class showing off its wealth by buying designer products and paying exaggerated attention to their looks and bodies

- drug problem: the result of the attitude to drugs in 1960s, cocaine becomes popular among yuppies, crack appears

- mostly black/Hispanic/Italian family gangs import drugs mostly from South America, traffic them by using children dealers, and fight violently over the trafficking area, especially in Los Angeles

- Nancy Reagan launches Just Say No campaign against drug demand, rehab centres for addicts are established

- AIDS appears (1981), is perceived as a disease of homosexuals, spreads quickly but is ignored by the government

- ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, 1987): founded by LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community) in East Village, New York, to fight the epidemics with non-violent civil disobedience, organizing happenings and demonstrations, and asking for information on the disease which lacked (‘silence = death’)

- Earth Day held for the first time in 1970, the environmental problems began in 1970s and deepened in 1980s when natural resources were exploited by Reaganomics


- fashion: tight cuts, sneakers, designer clothes, imitating the style of celebrities (Madonna)

- life style: free time activities, children’s sport classes, home computers, video games (Pac-Man, Mario Bros)

- hobbies: collectibles, Rubik’s cubes, Barbie dolls, ninja turtles, etc.


- MTV launched, digital compact disc introduced, a wave of learning dances arrived (lambada, break dance)

- Madonna, Michael Jackson, and other MTV stars become popular due to their music clips

- New Wave: an experimental anti-pop punk rock (Depeche Mode, Eurythmics, both British; Metallica, Bon Jovi)

- rap, hip hop: originated twenty years earlier, but only in 1980s became popular (Milli Vanilli, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C.)

- the first Live Aid concert (1985) organized to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia



- dominated by the themes of success and money

- The Blues Brothers (1980): musical comedy

- The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980): comedy, romance

- The Blue Lagoon (1980): adventure, romance

- Beverly Hills Cop (1984): action comedy, starring Eddie Murphy

- The River (1984): starring Mel Gibson

- Top Gun (1986): action, starring Tom Cruise

- Fatal Attraction (1987): thriller, starring Michael Douglass

- Dirty Dancing (1987): romance

- Lethal Weapon (1987): action, starring Mel Gibson

- The Untouchables (1987): crime drama, starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro

- Working Girl (1988): starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver

- Rain Man (1988): comedy drama, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise

- Driving Miss Daisy (1989): starring Morgan Freeman

- Dirty Harry series: crime thriller, starring Clint Eastwood


- David Lynch: The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984, science fiction), Blue Velvet (1986, mystery)

- Steven Spielberg: E.T. (1982), Back to the Future (1985)

- Sydney Pollack: Tootsie (1982, comedy), Out of Africa (1985)

- Oliver Stone: Scarface (1983, crime drama), Platoon (1986, Vietnam War)

- Stanley Kubrick: The Shining (1980, horror)

- Martin Scorsese: The Colour of Money (1984)

- Ridley Scott: Legend (1985, fantasy)

- Woody Allen: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, comedy drama)

- Coen brothers: Raising Arizona (1987)


- talks shows: The Oprah Winfrey Show (since 1986)

- anti-family series: Married with Children, Roseanne

- other series: Dynasty, Dallas, Star Trek, Knight Rider


- Trump Tower in New York City (1983, architect Der Scutt)

- High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia (1983, architect Richard Meier)

- Menil Collection in Houston, Texas (1987, architect Renzo Piano)

- Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing Tampa Bay, Florida (1987)

Pictorial Arts

- Jasper Johns: painter and printmaker, representative of pop art and abstract expressionism (author of ‘Flag’ 1955)

- Roy Lichtenstein: a painter and sculptor, representative of pop art, inspired by comics

- Keith Haring: representative of pop art and graffiti art

- Marisol: sculptor, influenced by pop art and abstract expressionism


- Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (1991): a psychological thriller and satirical novel on yuppies

- Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (1984): on an character with unadventurous day life and yuppie night life

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

    America in the 20th Century.
  • Semestr

    Letní semestr 2008/09.
  • Vyučující

    Martina Knápková, Alena Kolářová.
  • Status

    Volitelný seminář pro III. blok.


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