Conquering the Frontier Gothic in Red Dawn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the early 1980s-1990s, an array of films appeared that featured the militarization of American teens. These movies displayed U.S. youth taking up arms against a variety of enemies, from domestic antagonists (Taps [1981], Real Genius [1985]) to foreign terrorists (Red Dawn [1984], Toy Soldiers [1991]) and overseas enemies (Iron Eagle [1986]), from non-human threats (The Last Starfighter [1984], War Games [1983]) to each other (Lord of the Flies [1990]). Of these, perhaps the most straightforward inscribing of teens within a war story was Red Dawn; certainly, it is the most vividly remembered, invoked alike by military officials and American terrorists believing themselves to be acting in the name of patriotism. James Kendrick points out in Hollywood Bloodshed, for example, that the codename for the mission to track down Saddam Hussein was termed “Operation Red Dawn,” suggesting the film’s iconic status as a portrayal of righteous military action (90). In Hollywood’s Cold War, Tony Shaw further notes that Timothy McVeigh cited the film as an inspiration for the Oklahoma City bombings (276). Although a heavily criticized film, Red Dawn has remained firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWar Gothic in Literature and Culture
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781317383246
ISBN (Print)9781138938212
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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