ABSTRACT

In her 1989 study The Remasculinization of America, Susan Jeffords inter­ preted key post-Vietnam films and literature as attempts to come to terms with the U.S. military defeat in Vietnam. For Jeffords, The Deer Hunter, Rambo, Missing in Action, and other “return to Vietnam” films, as well as key literary texts dealing with the Vietnam experience, articulated the sense of shame associated with defeat and in some cases provided compensation for U.S. humiliations with heroic fantasies of victory over the Vietnamese and their allies in the contemporary era a la Rambo. Conservative films and nov­ els that dealt with the Vietnam debacle, in Jeffords’s reading, presented ideals of remasculinization that would prevent future Vietnams. These overcom­ ings of “the Vietnam syndrome” were closely connected to the conservative politics of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, which promoted militarism, virulent anticommunism, and traditional patriarchal-familial values.