Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Reagan Era making a comeback - does this reflect Leaf's view?

The Mercury News, from Los Angeles, is arguing here that the culture of the Reagan Era is making a comeback. It bases its argument on the fact that movies based on such 1980s titles as Transformers (which I can recall very sourly from my childhood because of ads I even then thought dreadful), G.I Joe, The A-Teen, Fame and Teen Wolf are being shown again.

However, the article notes that:
Aside from these three [Michael Jackson, U2, Whitney Houston] and the ever-adapting Madonna, though, most 1980s music acts have already been relegated to the nostalgia niche: strictly a thing for their contemporaries, with little of the cross-generational appeal Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix have displayed.
Jonathan Leaf in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties suggests that the same thing is true of the really popular singers of the 1960s like Bobby Vinton, Dean Martin, and Herman's Hermits. However, if one looks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one sees that the large number of popular artists who were inducted first ballot from the 1960s suggests that more popular artists from that era have been able to maintain influence among younger generations, like:
  • The Beatles
  • The Beach Boys (from Pet Sounds to the end of the decade)
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Kinks (who became less popular for not following hippie fashion and are not in Leaf's book at all)
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • James Brown
  • Jefferson Airplane (reached #3 in the chart with Surrealistic Pillow)
  • Bob Dylan
  • The Band
  • Isaac Hayes (reached #1 with Shaft)
The mere trouble that bodies like the Rock Hall have with Reagan-era music suggests that in fact the Reagan Era was very musically conservative in most of the United States, unless one views the extremely free sexual morals found in MTV pop metal of the time as an indication of cultural radicalism - a perspective of which I can definitely make sense but which is seldom suggested.

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