Stranger Things 3: A Chilly Shadow of 80’s Pop Culture and Geopolitics
by Inside Manila Team, July 22, 2019 8:57am
Art by Dani Elevazo
The third season of Stranger Things is a nostalgic remnant of 1980’s pop culture. The main setting, apart from those we’re already familiar with, is “Starcourt,” a newly opened mall where most Stranger Things teenagers (yes, no longer kids) spend their leisure time. Stranger Things 3 is different from its previous season not only because of its heavy 80s references, but also with its touch on geopolitics.
The season is set in Cold War paranoia; it’s made obvious with the presence of the Russian army. The USSR wants to use the alternate dimension known as the Upside Down for its own heinous Cold War purposes. Soviet spies build a giant scientific facility beneath Starcourt and are buying up the town’s land properties with the unknowing help of corrupt Hawkins’ mayor.
In case you slept through your history class, the US won the Cold War in real life. In that context, revisiting old fears is also a way of revisiting old triumphs.
In Season 1, Eleven accidentally opened the portal to the Upside Down, unleashing a monster which our adorable kids called “Demogorgons.” In Season 2, Eleven closed that same portal. This time, the Russian government is trying to open the portal once again.
Virtuous Americanism was showed by the stereotypical capitalist Fourth of July carnival. The carnival is filled with stuffed animal prizes, rides and a mesmerizing firework display. All of these capitalist acts prove that the nation is free to buy yet still got defeated by social constructionism. Under interrogation by the Russian military, Steve Harrington repeats over and over that he works for Scoops Ahoy. Steve and Robin are the best examples of workers who wear tacky sailor suits and sell ice cream that might come out to be the real enemy of the communist assimilator.
The US victory in the Cold War was supposed to be an end of history, but not for the Stranger Things series. Even El losing her powers, closing the gate of Upside Down, and Byers leaving the Hawkins is not yet the end of everything.
It starts to raise some questions and theories, like “Will the Mind Flayer keep coming back every season?” or “Is Hopper the American that the Russians were talking about in the mid-credits” And most importantly, “How will El regain her power?”
It will be another horrifying and exciting season to look forward to.