As in so many other areas of American society, the political legacy of Ronald Reagan had an imposing presence in many contemporary American films, particularly between 1980 and 2000. Six films, which collectively represent the spectrum of Reaganism's most popular tropes, demonstrate quite compellingly that in celebrating stalgically the blissful pleasantries of family stability and social order so essential to Reagan's political philosophy, an unsettling and unsatisfying mythology has been created about a period in which many Americans were acutely aware that something was missing, even if they could t pinpoint it at the time. This leads the critical viewer to largely unackwledged subtexts in all six films that begin to reveal the contradictions, incoherencies, and paradoxes rooted in popular Reaganesque portrayals. Utilising a detailed qualitative case study methodology, this book incorporates theoretical foundations that expand upon Fairclough's path-breaking research on media discourse and Todorov's broadly articulated framework of fantasy in order to explore: 1) Which elements of Fairclough's framework for critical discourse analysis can be applied to explore the discursive structures within these American fantasy films? 2) How far do the films follow Reaganist concepts of a new American society? 3) How far do tions of the fantastic and postmodern concepts break with common patterns of Reaganism reflected in these films? While many critics rightly cite the numerous elements in these films that appear to reinforce fundamental message points underlying Reaganism, this study demonstrates how the films' characters and plot lines also serve to reveal the inherent and irreconcilable incoherence of the sociopolitical and sociocultural tenets of Reaganism.
Douglas E. Forster earned his PhD in the Department of English, Communication, Film and Media at Anglia Ruskin University. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Japan Women's University in Tokyo, where his main focus is teaching English as a foreign language. His research interests include critical social analysis of American films and television.