Chrome, Neon, and Cyborgs: The Cyberpunk Genre in the 1980’s United States



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This project was done to prove the viability of fiction as a crucial source of historical artifacts by focusing on the genre of cyberpunk, a genre localized in the 1980s United States, to show how the cultural anxieties Americans had about the shifting trends in media, military, and economic matters birthed that genre. Research for this topic utilized three different fiction mediums from cyberpunk (film, novel, and tabletop roleplaying game) and combined each selected source from these mediums with primary documents drawn from 1980s news outlets, government addresses and press conferences, economic data from places such as the Federal Reserve, and interviews and memoirs from historical actors. This was all kept in context given by secondary source monographs and articles that cover the various topics of the 1980s that caused the anxieties that birthed cyberpunk as a unique and historically localized genre. The conclusion of this work divorced cyberpunk from post-1980s stories that claim that genre. In addition, the conclusion held that fiction has a critical place as historical artifact needed to gain as complete a record of humanity as possible, and that cyberpunk is crucial to understanding 1980s America in particular.



Cyberpunk, 1980s America, Ronald Reagan, trickle-down economics, reaganomics, Blade Runner, The Running Man, Robocop, Tron, WarGames, The Terminator, Videodrome, Neuromancer, cultural history, CNN, MTV, ESPN, Strategic Defense Initiative, Freeze Movement, Cold War, arms race, Betamax, VCR, VTR, Golden Age of Arcades