So I’ve really been noticing as of late America’s Coldwar Nostalgia. It’s in movies, video games, books, commercials, TV shows, and the general imagination of most Americans. Thinking of specifically movies- we have an explosion in the rebirth of zombie cinema (a coldwar post-apocalyptic imagery), Spy/superhero movies (the power to do things unknown to the enemy), and infatuation with codes (the idea that math could figure out the very agency of men and militarization). Before this, I think we were marveling in postmodernism and Baudrillard (the matrix), so why the instant return?
On a more surface level, regarding our anxieties around constant militarization, atleast during the coldwar we knew who had a button to have their finger on- with terrorists the enemy is unknown. While we often paint the face of the enemy in darkness, terrorists come with their own premade, un-imagined shroud of darkness. One that may be “too real” for Americans.
In discussing this with Mark Auslander (http://culturalproductions.blogspot.com/), he offered another fantastic reading that I’m going to assimilate with some of my own ideas; and that is that things were much more cut and dry (or should I say wet and dry) in the Cold War era. Binaries were still ultimate- what was man was man and what was woman was woman, what was good was good and what was evil was evil, what was culture was culture and what was primitive was primitive. At least that’s what the mythos of the time projected, how else would spies and monsters shape-shift? It was also a time where we thought we could outsmart the agency of others, using math and technology to predict their next shape shift…much like we find ourselves now. Ask any high school administrator what programs are the most essential: I’m sure you’ll find mathematical oriented technology and science (i.e. physics & chemistry) has replaced biology and the softer sciences.
In our post-Baudrillardian/Matrix imagination the dichotomies have been “deconstructed” in both cinema and real life. We are left in a state of confusion. We feel further exposed because of our falling economy and our failing wars. If only things could be like what they were when we were afraid of the only other country that could be as powerful as us…now we fear the ones who should have no power at all. The ones who are winning the war are the ones who don’t care what the three r’s are (according to mythos once again).
Maybe, like those times of the cold war, we are trying to re-kill a manifestly conservative (closet liberal) Victorian age. We thought we shook it, but it may have still lingered in our subconscious.
The question becomes, as is suggested by the title of this blog, how much this is shared. Do African-Americans and other minorities have these same anxities- do they care about so many of the dichotomies that the hegemonicly caucasian society has created? Of course the answer is that some do and some don’t. What is American is not unified, and does not mean the same thing; thus the imagination of the American cannot be the same for all of the people who utilize its discourse differently.