Calling the President a Liar: Women, Reagan, and the Bomb in "The Day After"
In my project, I analyze the political implications of the 1983 made for television film, The Day After. For those who have seen the film, it is likely that the most memorable scenes are the ones in which the people of Lawrence, Kansas experience the devastating effects of nuclear bombs. However, I argue that the quieter scenes demand examination. Through observing the moments in which average Midwestern families interact, it becomes clear that director Nicholas Meyer and writer Edward Hume sought to push back against archaic beliefs held by President Ronald Reagan’s conservative administration and his followers. The film asks viewers to examine the relationship between investing in both nuclear technology and the “traditional” family structure, thus highlighting the multi-layered hypocrisy that is a result of this “partnership.” That is, Reagan, his administration, and his constituents worked to dismantle families of any definition. Considering the presence of nuclear weaponry—and the United States’ unstable relationship with the Soviet Union—Reagan risked eliminating all families. Furthermore, because Reagan insisted on the importance of traditional family values, his claim that he hoped to protect the American people was disingenuous. With or without the help of nuclear weaponry, he worked to eliminate American women, by insisting that “traditional” and “hetero-patriarchal” are synonymous.
women, feminism, Reagan, nuclear war, tv, film
Master of Arts (M.A.)