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The Screwed-Up World We Live In Now? Blame the 1980s [Book Plug]

POSTED:
B.A. Baracus and John 'Hannibal' Smith of 'The A-Team'
B.A. Baracus and John 'Hannibal' Smith of 'The A-Team'
Photoshot/Getty

For those of you tuning in to see if there is going to be a Supreme Court of Assholedom ruling today, there will be – later this afternoon. Without revealing too much, I will say that our defendant is a woman who has been in the news a lot lately. Much interesting deliberation in this case, all of which will be revealed later on.

In the meantime, I should take the time to point out that one of the Court’s justices, Justice David Sirota of Colorado, has a book that hit the shelves this week called Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now. I don’t often pimp my friends’ work, among other things because I’m not that nice of a guy, but I had to read Back to Our Future for blurbing purposes six months ago and definitely want to recommend it, as it’s extremely funny and kind of a mind-fuck, given that its purpose is to make you confront all the insane propaganda buried in the movies and TV shows you grew up watching.

The idea of the Back to Our Future is that one of the ways the right fought back after the twin disgraces of Vietnam and Watergate was through pop culture. So while the Seventies were the era of Norma Rae and The Candidate and Sanford and Son, in the Eighties all of the sudden you had this explosion of movies and shows packed full of crazy political subtexts, some of which you might have noticed at the time, but many of which you probably didn’t. Like for instance (I love this part) The A-Team, which when you think about it is like the ultimate piece of lunatic post-Vietnam apologia – about a bunch of military commandoes imprisoned after Vietnam “for a crime they didn’t commit” who now go around as fugitive private contractors fixing all the problems that civil government is obviously too corrupt and incompetent to fix itself.

Another part I loved was about Nightmare on Elm Street, which was about (and I had forgotten this) a child-killer named Freddie Kruger who got off because of those goddamned civil libertarians: someone forgot to sign a search warrant properly when he was arrested! Then when Freddie gets out, it’s the private citizenry that has to go do the job of meting out justice, naturally burning his house down – but he survives as a supernatural force, so that the dreams of children can forever be invaded by reminders of the consequences of rights-obsessed defense lawyers searching around for technicalities.

People who want to understand where the Tea Party gets its belief system about government perfidy on the one hand and the beneficence of mercenaries on the other just have to read this book, where you’ll be reminded of all the shows you grew up watching that sounded those themes – from The A-Team to The Dukes of Hazzard and Ghostbusters and Knight Rider and E.T… And that doesn’t even take into account all of the weird propaganda about how innocent and decent and just generally awesome life was in America before the Sixties, and conversely how pathetic and full of shit Sixties liberals were/turned out to be. You get that in Back to the Future, The Big Chill (the ultimate “my Sixties past left me emotionally hollow and full of regret” movie), Family Ties, etc. I actually thought David didn’t go far enough here as I have long nursed a profound hatred for the movie Forrest Gump for its Sixties-people-suck subtext (America is just a kindly ping-pong playing retard in braces who cheerfully waited out two decades of pointless upheavals foisted upon him by traitorous, self-obsessed hedonists with AIDS) and was hoping that film would have its own 30,000-word chapter. But David made up for it with a long section on terminal narcissist Michael Jordan and the cult of “Get rich and fuck everybody else” he and Nike created in the Eighties.

Anyway, check out excerpts of the book here and here.

Again, Court ruling coming later today…

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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