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After the Fall: Hollywood Cinema and the Redefinition of America in the 1970s

Zurück zum Heft: Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 2/2019
DOI: 10.2478/kwg-2019-0093
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This manuscript traces Hollywood’s response to the disintegration of U.S. national consensus in the 1970s under the spell of Vietnam and Watergate, with a strong focus on the representation of masculinity. In my comparative reading of several canonized movies of the 1970s (The Deer Hunter, Dirty Harry, The Godfather, Rocky), I demonstrate how Hollywood cinema, amid America’s struggle to redefine its shared values and regain its self-confidence, advocated a return to myths of the past in order for the country to rewrite what historians have called the narrative of “victory culture.” As it is, arguably, in popular culture where societal changes manifest themselves most readily, I look at these films in the wider context of 1970s television, demonstrating connections with TV dramas such as Bonanza and The Waltons. I conclude with an outlook on the Reagan presidency and the rise to prominence of right-wing sequels such as Rambo II and Rocky IV as the seemingly inevitable consequences of 1970s disintegration.