4-30-88 Saturday. I’m young enough to feel (and occasionally act) like a teenager, but old enough to notice cycles that occur during my lifetime. For instance, short hair on males (even flattops) is back. This was popular during the 1950s, but not during the 1960s and 1970s. Miniskirts, which were all the rage in the 1960s, are back in fashion. I’ve also noticed a resurgence of movies and television shows with military themes. Recent movies about war include Apocalypse Now and Platoon (both of which I saw and both of which deal with Vietnam), while a number of militaristic television serieses [sic; should be “series”] have begun. Right now, there are serieses [sic] entitled China Beach, Supercarrier, and Tour of Duty. I haven’t watched any of them, but I read about them in the newspaper from time to time. Americans, it seems, once again have an appetite for war.

This is an interesting social phenomenon. During the Vietnam war, people were bombarded daily with images of death and destruction. I’ve heard that casualty figures became a staple of the evening news diet. Every evening, at dinnertime, Americans were confronted with the reality of war. Those who didn’t have a loved one die probably knew someone who did. Naturally, when the war ended in the early 1970s, people wanted to forget about it. They wanted to focus on family and career, not the containment of communism. But many of today’s young people don’t remember the scenes of carnage on the evening news. To them, war is glamorous and exciting; it’s a macho activity that blends adventure, power, patriotism, and pride. Television and movie producers, realizing this new audience for war subjects, have given them to us. To those who are nostalgic about Vietnam (and there are many), the movies and serieses [sic] are welcome. To those who never experienced war firsthand, they are high drama. To those, like me, who study and criticize popular culture, the trend is ominous. I fear that there will be a new machismo in our society and that some leader—George [Herbert Walker] Bush, say—will take advantage of it to “spread democracy” throughout the world. I hate to say it, but a large segment of society is ready for another war.