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Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home

Wills, Garry | Doubleday, 1987


pp. 206, 210, 211

“As Nathaniel West put it in The Day of the Locust, ‘At the sight of their heroes and heroines, the crowd would turn demoniac’ (chapter 27). P. 210: “John Hinckley [who shot Ronald Reagan] turned himself into Travis Bickle [the main character in Paul Schrader’s film Taxi Driver]. He was following too literally a logic of publicity that makes our moods depend vicariously on the fortunes of the idealized rich or famous, our prosperity a glow derived from theirs, our weakness a reflection of their power. The celebrities who bless can also damn. The adored can be destroyed . . . ” P. 211: “The impotent first worship, then rend. When, at her deposition for his trial, [Jodie Foster, whom Hinckley had hoped to impress by shooting Reagan] refused to recognize either him or his ‘sacrifice,’ [Hinckley] threw a pen at her and said that he would kill her.”