ON POPULAR CULTURE:
television changed radically during the Eighties because of
the advent of Cable television. The three large television networks
could no longer dominate what Americans saw through the air
waves. By 1989, cable television was in more than 60 percent
of all American homes. VCR sales also soared as more and more
Americans recorded their favorite shows for later viewing. There
was also much more to record.
and MTV became the two hottest cable television programs of
the decade. In fact they were not even traditional television
shows at all. With CNN and MTV Americans could now watch global
news and Rock ' n ' Roll videos on a twenty-four hour basis.
News and entertainment became more and more fused and many people
began talking about " infotainment. " Daily life which
had been made more immediate and dramatic by the earlier forms
of television now had a continuous media life of its own. Indeed,
to succeed at all in public life one seemed to need good acting
skills more than ever. The line between reality and fiction
was getting more and more difficult to define.
what was going on in the three old network channels? Americans
began to watch two television shows that glorified the super-rich.
" Dallas " and " Dynasty " were evening
soap operas that featured feuding family members, dirty business
deals, and glitzy parties where people showed off their glamorous
clothes. Most of the characters of these two shows were more
than willing to do anything in order to " have it all.
Family shows also changed. The most popular family show featured
an African American family that was close-knit and loving. The
Huxtables featuring African American comedian, Bill Cosby quickly
became America's favorite prime-time television family. The
appeal of the Huxtables crossed all ethnic and racial lines
because family values were now back in vogue in America. And
even if this kinder and gentler TV family lacked any resemblance
to real American life. The image was more important to most
Americans because it held out hope that the future would be
better. American family life was becoming more and more complex
and simple solutions were difficult to find.
even anti-families became popular in America during the Eighties
on national television. " Married with Children "
and " Roseanne " were television programs that featured
families that fought each other and could not accomplish anything
worthwhile, but in a very funny way. To these dysfunctional
families growing together meant fighting together during times
of great cultural confusion and economic difficulty.
Ritchies were no different
" Mara when are you going to settle down? You keep changing
jobs and boyfriends every two months. Don't you care about your
Mara: " What future? " We have a TV actor as president.
There is mostly garbage on TV. It's hard to hold onto a job.
Most people are just jerks. Who are you to tell me about my
Deborah: " Do you have to always see everything in black
and white? "
Mara: " Gee, now you're starting to sound like that dork
on television. "
Deborah: " Look at Harvey. He got a good job. The minute
he graduated from college and now he's doing very well. "
Mara: " I don't want to be a Yuppie like him. "
Deborah: " Why are you calling him a Yuppie "
Mara: " Cuz that's what he is. A greedy, selfish young
American. Now, please
Deborah: "Please, what? "
Mara: " Stop lecturing me. "
Deborah: " But your father is working so hard. I'm working
Mara: " For what? So you can tell your friends that you're
this big successful person? I don't care about that. "
Deborah: " One day, you'll see the real light of things
Mara: " Oh, yes, time to max my credit card again. That's
the only way I can survive nowadays. Wage slavery, sucky jobs
for the wannabes, and a new arms race. Who cares about the ecology,
Deborah: " This is not the Sixties. This is the Eighties.
Mara: " Really, well look who's got a top job now at the
big clothes store. You
Deborah: " Look, I am grateful for these new times, but
you cannot attack everything in America. This is your country.
You were born here. "
Mara: " I was born on the planet. Excuse me. I see a much
bigger picture now. We need to think to differently. We need
to be less selfish. "
Deborah: " Look, your father and I have always wanted the
best for you. We still do. "
Mara: " Do you want the best for the planet? If you do.
Only then do you want the best for me. "