Projecting the End of the American Dream: Hollywood's Visions of U.S. Decline

By Gordon B. Arnold | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Disillusion

As the 1970s began, American society continued to grapple with the crises and social upheaval that had erupted in the previous decade. Many issues remained unresolved, and by this time American confidence was clearly rattled. A study conducted by the Gilbert Youth Research Corporation in 1971, for example, concluded that more than half of the United States’ youth had lost confidence in the nation’s future; fewer than 40 percent of respondents in the study agreed with the statement, “Everyone has a chance to get ahead in this country.”1 The bright world of hope, promise, and prosperity envisioned in the idea of American Dream in previous years seemed increasingly uncertain.

Indeed, the United States that emerged from the turbulent decade of the 1960s was in some ways a different nation than it had been. People expressed varied reactions to this transformation. For some, developments in the areas of civil rights, women’s issues, and other causes indicated progress. For other people, however, such changes, along with the upheaval of the 1960s more generally, had altered the United States for the worse. Thus, while behaviors and attitudes with regard to many aspects of society were evolving, albeit sometimes slowly and inconsistently, a sizeable number of Americans were looking for a way to recapture the familiarity of the past.

But troubles from the 1960s lingered. Controversy about the Vietnam War continued to plague the nation, for instance. Although U.S. involvement in the war had crested, it proved to be difficult to bring the conflict to an end. In an effort to hasten an outcome acceptable to the United States, American troops were ordered to cross the border from South Vietnam into Cambodia.

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Projecting the End of the American Dream: Hollywood's Visions of U.S. Decline
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - American Ruin, the American Dream, and Hollywood 1
  • Chapter 2 - Backstory 21
  • Chapter 3 - A Dangerous World 39
  • Chapter 4 - Above and below the Shiny Surface 61
  • Chapter 5 - Rising Paranoia 81
  • Chapter 6 - Eruption 113
  • Chapter 7 - Disillusion 143
  • Chapter 8 - Shimmering Façade 169
  • Chapter 9 - Hollow World 195
  • Chapter 10 - Apocalypse Realized 223
  • Notes 247
  • Selected Bibliography 265
  • Index 273
  • About the Author 281
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