Paul CrenshawOct 12, 2023
Melt with Me
Coming of Age and Other '80s Perils
Ohio State University Press 2023
In his new collection of essays, Melt with Me: Coming of Age and Other '80s Perils (Ohio State UP, 2023), Paul Crenshaw examines the intersection of 1980s pop culture, the Cold War, and the trials of coming of age. Crenshaw takes up a range of topics from Star Wars to video games, Choose Your Own Adventure books to the Satanic Panic. Blending the personal with the historical, levity with gravity, Crenshaw shows how pop culture shaped those who grew up in 1980s America: how Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative drove fears of nuclear war, how professional wrestling taught us everyone was either a good guy or a bad guy, how Bugs Bunny cartoons reflected the absurdity of war and mutually assured destruction, and how video games taught young boys, in particular, that no matter how hard they tried to save it, the world would end itself. Reflecting on the decade and its dark influence on fear-based notions of nation and manhood, Crenshaw writes, "All this reminds me I'm still afraid of the same things I was afraid of as a child. Some days I think the movies are real and we're watching the last hour of humanity. You'll have to decide if there's any hope."
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.