Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan

jg ballard

Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan is a short work by dystopian English author J.G. Ballard, first published in 1968 as a pamphlet by the Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton, England. It was later collected in ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ (an experimental collection of Ballard’s ‘condensed novels’).

It is written in the style of a scientific paper and catalogs an apocryphal series of bizarre experiments intended to measure the psychosexual appeal of Ronald Reagan, who was then the Governor of California and candidate for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination.

Ballard himself was inspired by the then-new phenomenon of ‘media politicians’:

‘In his commercials Reagan used the smooth, teleprompter-perfect tones of the TV auto-salesman to project a political message that was absolutely the reverse of bland and reassuring. A complete discontinuity existed between Reagan’s manner and body language, on the one hand, and his scarily simplistic far-right message on the other. Above all, it struck me that Reagan was the first politician to exploit the fact that his TV audience would not be listening too closely, if at all, to what he was saying, and indeed might well assume from his manner and presentation that he was saying the exact opposite of the words actually emerging from his mouth.’

A bookseller who sold the pamphlet was charged with obscenity. In 1970, the pamphlet was added as an appendix to Doubleday’s first American edition of ‘The Atrocity Exhibition,’ which was destroyed prior to release. At the 1980 Republican Convention in Detroit a copy, furnished with the seal of the Republican Party, was distributed by ex-Situationists to the RNC delegates. According to Ballard, it was accepted for what it resembled: a psychological position paper on the candidate’s subliminal appeal, commissioned by a think-tank.

For example: ‘Slow-motion film of Reagan’s speeches produced a marked erotic effect in an audience of spastic children’ and ‘Faces were seen as either circumcised (JFK, Khrushchev) or uncircumcised (LBJ, Adenauer). In assembly-kit tests Reagan’s face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan.’


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