Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Iconic America

I have considered using several images in preparing for this assignment, including one of the images of Hinkley's assassination attempt on Reagan, a photo of the Wall Street Yuppie, an image of the HIV virus, all of which I see as being representative of iconic 1980s America.  In the end though, I have settled on this image which is a still from the movie The Breakfast Club.  As a teenager in 1980s I was profoundly affected by the movies of director John Hughes, and I think that more than any other, this movie helped to mould me into the adult I have become, and I see it as representing everything the USA was during the eighties for several reasons.
Firstly, I believed that it presented me with an idea of what it meant to be an American teenager, and helped to develop my interest in and love of American culture.  Secondly it influenced my political and social views with its notion of inclusivity and togetherness.
I recognise that this is a very subjective view as a result of my personal connection to the period.  However, I feel that the film also represents the way America wanted to see itself.  The film tells the story of five students who on the surface of things seem to be very different from each other and unlikely to find any common ground.  However, over the course of a Saturday detention the students begin to share stories about their backgrounds, and after some initial personality clashes which have ultimately arisen as a result of judgements having been made early on, the five join forces to stand up to the school bully - the teacher.  This key theme of putting aside our differences and allowing ourselves to see the best in each other is definitely a perspective that eighties America was keen to put at the forefront of its optimistic outlook.  I really think, shocking as it might sound, that it was through the television and film of 1980s American popular culture that I was properly introduced to people from other cultures - I grew up in the rural south of England where until I was eleven years old I had only ever seen white faces and even throughout my secondary school life I only ever encountered one person who was not of white British heritage,  Interestingly, all the characters in the film are white, and the film would not withstand too much analysis about its cultural representation, but for me I was happy at the time to accept the social message without too much analysis.

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