As a child of the 1980s, I was deeply saddened by the death last week of filmmaker John Hughes. His movies, which still populate the cable guide, bring me back to my childhood. But as my new newspaper column this week shows, they provide more than just nostalgia -- they resurrect a zeitgeist that is at the center of the biggest political battles we face today.
The media world we all live in -- whether we're watching cable news, experiencing big-budget movies, or reading political blogs -- revolves around celebrity culture. Since the 1980s, we have become masters of creating mythic gods out of anchormen, actors and politicians -- and that can be completely disempowering for the rest of us. What Hughes films all do is remind the world that mere mortals also have intrinsic value.
As you'll see in my column, the competing storylines between the cult of the individual and the belief in the common person -- that is, 1980s Reganism and 1980s Hughesism -- is precisely what defines the major economic debates we're having in this country right now. Should we as a society only value the titans and continue pursuing an everyone-for-themselves economy? Or should we as a society value the regular person, understanding that we need to take care of one another? Ultimately, that is what we're really discussing when we're discussing everything from the stimulus to unemployment benefits to health care.
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