Time-Traveling With David Sirota

March 15 2011, 10:30 AM

Like many of us, David Sirota was a kid back in the 1980s. Today, the syndicated journalist and AM 760 morning talk radio host has noticed some of the negative seeds planted by the decade's pop culture have blossomed. He ventures through this neon garden in his book Back to the Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now—Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything, which officially releases today.

In a weekend article for the Washington Post, Sirota argues anti-Muslim sentiments took root in '80s Hollywood, in a range of films—even Back to the Future, featuring angry Libyans with bazookas, "as a precursor of today's socially acceptable—and congressionally sanctioned—Islamophobia and prejudice against those of Middle Eastern descent." In his latest Creators column, Sirota confesses that as a boy, he was indoctrinated into America's 1980s militarism, citing his G.I. Joe, films like Red Dawn, the Guinness record holder for violent acts depicted per minute, and the Nintendo video game "Contra."

"With the Pentagon shaping movie screenplays, investing in video games, cooperating with toy marketers, and eventually working with baseball-card companies to publish Desert Storm trading cards, 1985's classic sci-fi novel Ender's Game seemed more prophecy than fantasy," he writes (Salon).

In a review, the Denver Post writes: "His clearest underlying theme concerns 'resentment politics,' the cynical effort to pit the idealized '50s against the demonized '60s—a reflex he believes was perfected by social conservatives in the '80s. In Sirota's view, it's a trend that continues today, stronger than ever." For example, progressive achievements made during the 1960's can be dismissed with something as simply sinister as South Park's well-known "Die, Hippie, Die" episode. And Sirota sees the Tea Party in similar comedic tirades—with a naive, Reaganlike desire to return to the idealized 1950s.