Deconstructionist criticism, a powerful intellectual movement of the 1970's (particularly in America), is a method by which scholars analyze given cultural "texts". These texts may include anything from sonnets to television programmes to cereal boxes. Particularly in the realm of literature and film, deconstruction is an analysis of what earlier critics thought to be textual meaning. The deconstructionist's basic objective is to divest a text in order to expose its elitist, anti-feminist and otherwise unpopular presuppositions. As the unpopularity of certain ideologies may shift with the time, fashion and the words to describe them, so may criticism of a given text. Thus, the meaning of such a text is based on an individual's perception and reaction to it at any moment in time, as meaning is never permanent. Deconstruction aims to expose contradiction in the very idea of meaning of a text.
Deconstructionist theory was, for the most part, created by Paul de Man, a prestigious literary critic of the 1960's and 1970's and former fascist. De Man died in 1983, prior to the discovery of articles he had written for a Nazi newspaper during WWII. Jacques Derrida, a follower and former colleague of de Man, later used deconstructionist jargon in order to defend and possibly obscure de Man's already ambiguous past.
The language of deconstruction, full of long words and newly invented terms, is crafted to obscure and was created by a man who intended to disguise the truths of his own history. Deconstructionist theory is used to misdirect the attention of an audience away from explicit truths and meanings, toward fashionable concerns. Often these fashionable concerns have no relevance to the given text, but are forced into relevance by convoluted explanations. Deconstruction is a form of intellectual propaganda, which is ironically what this school of criticism claims to admonish.
Deconstruction enables more profound reflection on the cultural texts of everyday life. Prior to the creation of deconstructionist criticism, elitist, anti-feminist and otherwise exclusionist ideologies remained undetected in popular texts of the time. An audience has the right to be aware of subliminal and potentially harmful ideologies underlying the words and images of cultural texts. New methods of detecting hidden meanings account for the creation of newly invented deconstructionist terminologies.