Friday, April 29, 2011

Wills - Reagan's America

Wills, Garry. Reagan's America: Innocents at Home. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1987.

Reagan succeeded because he embodied a more innocent age. He was an actor, and played a role that appealed to Americans - a throwback to individualist capitalism. Reagan is "the great American synecdoche." Emphasizes him as a communicator.

According to Wills "a basic characteristic of Reagan's persona is a confusion of his actual past with a past he wants to remember-a failure to dissociate the real from the unreal." Like America?

"At the time, status was based on the star system and scripts were governed by the Production Code. The stars were less sex symbols than "chastity symbols"..."Reagan was the perfect Hollywood chastity symbol," in Wills' assessment, "one whose innocence became indistinguishable from ignorance"

In 1984 America accepted Reagan's vision of the future because of the appeal of his vision of the past. Americans, concludes Wills, have made "an extraordinary tacit bargain with each other not to challenge Reagan's version of the past."

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