Monday, April 8, 2013

"Ronald Reagan, the Movie" and Other Episodes in Political Demonology

1987, undated later edition, from University of California Press
Michael Rogin
"Ronald Reagan, the Movie" and Other Episodes in Political Demonology
Original price unknown, purchase price $17.50
Good condition hardcover with worn dustjacket

While the title essay and some of the other material is interesting and occasionally thought-provoking, the book is dull at times, especially in Chapter 4, "Partisanship and the Group Interest."  By "demonology" Rogin means the making of other groups into evil symbols, not just "The Evil Empire," but Indians, blacks, Jews, Catholics, women, etc.  He sees this as an important part of mainstream politics (not just of the Right).  He looks at movies of the Cold War (Reagan's and others), as well as in detail at The Birth of a Nation.  He also examines the U.S. government's treatment and language towards Native Americans ("great white father and red children").  And he discusses the king's (or president's) two bodies, the way that the ruler's health is symbolic of the nation's (and vice versa).  I wish the book was as good as its illustrations, including the haunting cover, of a giant Ronnie on a screen waving at worshipful Nancy at the '84 National Convention.

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