Cold War Themes in American Culture
No one wants a conflict with the Soviet Union, but it sure makes for thrilling fiction.
-- Television advertisement for B. Dalton Booksellers
1997, after ten years of Soviet occupation, ten years without freedom in a land called Amerika. . . . Amerika, next.
-- Television advertisement for the Amerika mini-series
The cultural predominance of the cold war schema was perpetuated through the interactions of schema-using individuals and schema-structured products of culture. Cold war schema users wrote novels, screenplays, textbooks, scholarly articles, news reports, and speeches, and they often framed them in cold war terms. In a culture of cold war schema users, these products were in demand; people found the scenarios meaningful and the themes gratifying, and they were willing and eager to spend substantial amounts of time and/or money on the consumption of cold war culture.
In the United States, an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth" is not needed to control entertainment, news, and education; the invisible hand of the market is both effective and insidious. Propaganda is a consumer item -- people buy it because they find it gratifying and useful ( Ellul, 1965). In the American free market for entertainment, some themes sell, and the cold war schema was one of them. East-West conflict provided the black-and-white backdrop for countless espionage and adventure thrillers. The contrast between stereotyped Soviet oppression