Wayne Munson examines the talkshow as a cultural form whose curious productivity has become vital to America's image economy. As the very name suggests, the talkshow is both interpersonal exchange and mediated spectacle. Its range of topics defies classification: from the sensational and bizarre, to the conventional and the advisory, to politics and world affairs. Munson grapples with the sense and nonsense of the talkshow, particularly its audience participation and its construction of knowledge.
This hybrid genre includes the news/talk "magazine," celebrity chat, sports talk, psychotalk, public affairs forum, talk/service program, and call-in interview show. All share characteristics of lucidity and contradiction—the hallmarks of postmodernity—and it is this postmodern identity that Munson examines and links to mass and popular culture, the public sphere, and contemporary political economy.
Munson takes a close look at the talkshow’s history, programs, production methods, and the "talk" about it that pervades media culture—the press, broadcasting, and Hollywood. He analyzes individual shows such as "Geraldo," "The Morton Downey Show," "The McLaughlin Group," and radio call-in "squawk" programs, as well as movies such as Talk Radio and The King of Comedy that investigate the talkshow’s peculiar status. Munson also examines such events as the political organizing of talkhosts and their role in the antitax and anti-incumbency groundswells of the 1990s. In so doing, Munson demonstrates how "infotainment" is rooted in a deliberate uncertainty. The ultimate parasitic media form, the talkshow promiscuously indulges in—and even celebrated—its dependencies and contradictions. It "works" by "playing" with boundaries and identities to personalize the political and politicize the personal. Arguing that the talkshow's form and host are productively ill-defined, Munson asks whether the genre is a degradation of public life or part of a new, revitalized public sphere in which audiences are finally and fully "heard" through interactive.
From ads for Victoria's Secret to the character roles of Rosie Perez, the mass media have been defining race and femininity. In this diverse set of essays, Angharad N. Valdivia breaks theoretical and methodological boundaries by exploring the relationship of the media to various audiences. Throughout A Latina in the Land of Hollywood we are challenged to think differently about the media messages we often unconsciously consume, such as the popular representations of certain Latina cultural icons. Valdivia shows how reporters focus on Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchú's big smile, Brazilian media magnate Xuxa's blonde hair, and Puerto Rican actress Rosie Perez's high-pitched voice, never quite creating a comprehensive portrayal of these women. In her discussion of lingerie catalogs, Valdivia uncovers a similarly skewed depiction. The lush, high-class bedrooms of Victoria's Secret differ as much from the earthy, spare world of Frederick's of Hollywood as the types, sizes, and uses of the lingerie that the two companies sell. Valdivia takes a look at family films, arguing that single mothers are almost always portrayed as either trampy floozies or sexless, hapless women, whereas single dads fare much better. Whether examining one teenager's likes and dislikes or considering single parenthood in family films, Valdivia investigates how popular culture has become the arena in which we struggle to know ourselves and to make ourselves known. She calls for scholars to move beyond investigating implicit themes in films and media to studying the ways that audiences of different colors, ages, genders, and sexual preferences might understand or misunderstand such cultural messages. A Latina in the Land of Hollywood aims to explode traditional discussions of media and popular culture. It is a must-read for anyone interested in popular culture, television, and film.
Media Culture in Nomadic Communities examines the ways that new technologies and ICT infrastructures have changed the communicative norms and patterns that regulate mobile and nomadic communities' engagement in local and international deliberative decision making. Each chapter examines a unique communicative event, such has how the Maasai of Tanzania have used online petitions to demand government action. How Mongolians in northern China have used micro blogs to record and debate land tenure. And how herding communities from around the world have supported the Lakota Sioux protests at Standing Rock. Through these case studies, Hahn argues that mobile and nomadic communities are creating and utilizing new communicative networks that are radically changing local, national, and international deliberations.
Media Culture in Transnational Asia: Convergences and Divergences examines contemporary media use within Asia, where over half of the world’s population resides. The book addresses media use and practices by looking at the transnational exchanges of ideas, narratives, images, techniques, and values and how they influence media consumption and production throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and many others. The book’s contributors are especially interested in investigating media and their intersections with narrative, medium, technologies, and culture through the lenses that are particularly Asian by turning to Asian sociopolitical and cultural milieus as the meaningful interpretive framework to understand media. This timely and cutting-edge research is essential reading for those interested in transnational and global media studies.
Is it possible today to understand current genres such as drama and theater without considering the influence of television? Elizabeth Klaver argues that television’s dominance of the entertainment industry demands a continual negotiation of subject position from all other cultural forms and institutions. By examining plays that incorporate televisual discourse—from cameras and monitors to televisual style and structure—Performing Television probes the turbulent relation contemporary drama has had to television and its negotiations for identity in a postmodern media culture.
Klaver applies post-structuralist theories of subjectivity to drama while ranging through Beckett’s plays, National Hockey League games, “The Tonight Show,” gay and lesbian drama, minority drama, avant-garde performance, and the topics of theatrical paranoia, the mediatized Imaginary, and the spectatorial gaze.
Film critic David Sterritt’s Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility showcases the social and aesthetic viewpoints of lynchpin Beat writers Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, juxtaposing their artistry with 1950s culture and achieving what Kerouac might have called a “bookmovie” riff. In clear prose, Sterritt captures the raw energy of the Beats and joins in their celebration of aesthetic freakishness. Tapping into the diversified spirit of the Beat Generation and its nuanced relationship with postwar American culture, Sterritt considers how the Beats variously foreground, challenge, and illuminate major issues in Hollywood and avant-garde film, critical and cultural theory, and music in the mass-media age.
Sterritt engages the creative and spiritual facets of the Beats, emulating their desire to evoke ephemeral aspects of human existence. Dealing with both high and low cultures as well as various subcultures, he highlights the complementary contributions to cultural creativity made by these authors. Screening the Beats grapples with paradoxes in Beat writing, in particular the conflict between spiritual purity and secular connectedness, which often materialized in the beatific bebop spontaneity, Zen-like transcendentalism, and plain hipster smarts that characterized the writings of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg.
This interdisciplinary study tackles such topics as Ginsberg’s and Kerouac’s uses of racial and ethnic stereotypes prevalent in the popular movies of the 1950s era; the uses and limitations of improvisation as a creative tool in literature, jazz, and film; Kerouac’s use of cinematic metaphor to evoke Buddhist concepts; and intersections of the grotesque and carnivalesque in works as seemingly diverse as autobiographical novels by Kerouac, a radio play by Antonin Artaud, cultural theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and the boisterous lunacy of Three Stooges farce. Deftly threading literary, musical, and cinematic works with a colorful array of critical theories, Screening the Beats illuminates the relationship between American culture and the imaginative forces of the Beat Generation.
Yellow Music is the first history of the emergence of Chinese popular music and urban media culture in early-twentieth-century China. Andrew F. Jones focuses on the affinities between "yellow” or “pornographic" music—as critics derisively referred to the "decadent" fusion of American jazz, Hollywood film music, and Chinese folk forms—and the anticolonial mass music that challenged its commercial and ideological dominance. Jones radically revises previous understandings of race, politics, popular culture, and technology in the making of modern Chinese culture. The personal and professional histories of three musicians are central to Jones's discussions of shifting gender roles, class inequality, the politics of national salvation, and emerging media technologies: the American jazz musician Buck Clayton; Li Jinhui, the creator of "yellow music"; and leftist Nie Er, a former student of Li’s whose musical idiom grew out of virulent opposition to this Sinified jazz. As he analyzes global media cultures in the postcolonial world, Jones avoids the parochialism of media studies in the West. He teaches us to hear not only the American influence on Chinese popular music but the Chinese influence on American music as well; in so doing, he illuminates the ways in which both cultures were implicated in the unfolding of colonial modernity in the twentieth century.