The ’80s Resurrected

Essays on the Decade in Popular Culture Then and Now


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SKU: 9781476686516 Categories: ,

About the Book

The 1980s is remembered as a time of big hair, synthetic music, and microwave cookery. It is also remembered as the heyday of conservative politics, socioeconomic inequality, and moral panics. It is dichotomously remembered as either a nostalgic age of innocence or a regressive moral wasteland, depending on who you ask, and when. But, most of all, it is remembered. In retro fashion trends, in ‘80s-based film and television narratives, and through countless rebooted movies, video games, superheroes, and even political slogans imploring us to Make America Great Again (Again).
More than merely a historical period, “the ’80s” has grown into a contested myth, ever-evolving through the critical and expressive lens of popular culture. This book explores the many shapes the ’80s mythos has taken across a diverse array of media. Essays examine television series such as Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, and POSE, films such as Dallas Buyers Club, Summer of ’84, and Chocolate Babies, as well as video games, pop music, and toys. Collectively, these essays explore how representations of the 1980s influence the way we think about our past, our present, and our future.

About the Author(s)

Randy Laist is a professor of English at Goodwin University and the University of Bridgeport. He has authored and edited several books on literature, popular culture, and pedagogy. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Randy Laist
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8651-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4855-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Randy Laist 1
Time After Time: The Meaning of ’80s Nostalgia
“There’s nothing for you back there”: Reflective Nostalgia in Stranger Things
Valerie Surrett 11
The Breakfast Club, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Riverdale’s ’80s Palimpsest
Stephen Hock 23
The Americans and How We Think About the Reagan ’80s
Lilly J. Goren 37
“It’s just one of them things innit, there’s nothing you can do about it”: The Specter of Thatcherism in This Is England ’86–’90
Jack Anderson 46
Remembering to Forget: 1980s Retro Gaming and the Aesthetics of Escape
John Misak 57
The Pop Music Montage: Nostalgia as a Function of 1980s Film Soundtracks
Carrie Clanton 66
Men Without Hats and Material Girls
“Cobra Kai Never Dies”: Reframing Masculinities in The Karate Kid’s Nostalgic Transgenerational Reboot
Kristen Galvin 79
Tragic Masculinities and Craig Mazin’s Chernobyl
John Quinn 92
Safety, Stoneybrook, and the Sitters
Morgan E. Foster 101
The Cutest Doll at the Arcade: Technology and (American) Girl Power
Myrna Moretti 111
Back to the (Gendered) Future: Feminist Nostalgia in Netflix’s Stranger Things and GLOW
Ann M. Ciasullo 123
A Very ’80s Love Affair: Joanna Hogg’s Formalist Feminism in The Souvenir I
Helena I. Gurfinkel 137
Fight the Power: Social Justice
Jem, ­­She-Ra, and My Little Pony: Combating Misogyny, Homophobia, and Racism in ­­Girl-Centered Reboots
Melanie Hurley 149
Nostalgia for What Always Was: Race and American Superheroes in Television and Film
Patrick L. Hamilton and Allan W. Austin 160
“Dad, every serial killer is somebody’s neighbor!” The Problem of White Supremacy in Summer of ’84
Erika Tiburcio Moreno 172
Dallas Buyers Club: Libertarian American Dreams in the Neoliberal 1980s
Craig Clark 181
Ryan Murphy’s ’80s and the Past as Political Postmodern Battleground
Ilaria Biano 191
Cinematically Satirizing AIDS Realities of the Reagan Decade in Chocolate Babies
Kylo-Patrick R. Hart 202
Film and Television Works Cited 213
About the Contributors 219
Index 223

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Engaging, challenging, and of vital importance to discourse, fandom, and scholarship.”—Marc DiPaolo, author of War, Politics and Superheroes and Fake Italian