The Chilling Effect
Hollywood films have been an essential element of American culture throughout the twentieth century. The prevalence of the films produced by major studios makes them significant indicators of mainstream acceptance of various images on the screen as well as in the society; these films depict contemporary ideas and lifestyles of the era they attempt to mimic. Lawrence Kasdan's, The Big Chill, is the ultimate 1980s baby-boomer movie, presenting the definitive portrayal of the emerging yuppie archetype during a decade of greed. From running shoes, jogging, camcorders, and Motown, to self-analytical manipulation, and guilt-ridden upwardly mobile lifestyles, this film accurately depicts a time of money-hungry status seekers.
During the decade of the eighties, mega mergers spawned a new breed of billionaire, with Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, and Ivan Boesky displaying the sudden rise and fall of the rich and the famous. Forbes Magazine's list of the top 500 companies was replaced with a growing listing of the 400 richest people to date. With a spending motto of "Shop till' you drop," binge buying and credit became a way of life. Designer labels were everything even for the youth of the nation. Video games, aerobics, minivans, and talk shows became part of American life. Double-digit inflation along with Reagan's war on drugs, accompanied the loss of many to AIDS while both hospital costs and unemployment were rapidly rising. The spendthrift eighties were a time of greed and narcissism in an attempt to climb the ladder to success. Families changed drastically during these years. The eighties continued the trends of previous decades with more divorces, more unmarried couples living together, and more single parent families. The two-earner family was even more common than in preceding decades, more women earned college and advanced degrees, married, and had fewer children. A study by UCLA indicated that college freshmen of the time...
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