Close Encounters was first published in 1991. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Offers new critical approaches to science fiction as represented in film, television, fan culture, and other non-literary media. Addresses the way conventional notions of sexual difference are reworked by science fiction film. Includes the complete script of Peter Wollen's 1987 film Friendship's Death.
Contributors: Raymond Bellour, Janet Bergstrom, Roger Dadoun, Harvey R. Greenberg, M.D., Henry Jenkins III, Enno Patalas, Constance Penley, Vivian Sobchak, Lynn Spigel, and Peter Wollen.
Media do not simply portray places that already exist; they actually produce them. In exploring how world populations experience "place" through media technologies, the essays included here examine how media construct the meanings of home, community, work, nation, and citizenship.
Tracing how media reconfigure the boundaries between public and private-and global and local-to create "electronic elsewheres," the essays investigate such spaces and identities as the avatars that women are creating on Web sites, analyze the role of satellite television in transforming Algerian neighborhoods, inquire into the roles of radio and television in Israel and India, and take a skeptical look at the purported novelty of the "new media home."
Contributors: Asu Aksoy, Istanbul Bilgi U; Charlotte Brunsdon, U of Warwick; Ratiba Hadj-Moussa, York U (Toronto); Tamar Liebes-Plesner, Hebrew U; David Morley, Goldsmiths, U of London; Lisa Nakamura, U of Illinois; Arvind Rajagopal, New York U; Kevin Robins, Goldsmiths, U of London; Jeffrey Sconce, Northwestern U; Marita Sturken, New York U; and Shunya Yoshimi, U of Tokyo.
Critics often claim that prime-time television seemed immune—or even willfully blind—to the landmark upheavals rocking American society during the 1960s. Groove Tube is Aniko Bodroghkozy’s rebuttal of this claim. Filled with entertaining and enlightening discussions of popular shows of the time—such as The Monkees, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Mod Squad—this book challenges the assumption that TV programming failed to consider or engage with the decade’s youth-lead societal changes. Bodroghkozy argues that, in order to woo an increasingly lucrative baby boomer audience, television had to appeal to the social and political values of a generation of young people who were enmeshed in the hippie counterculture, the antiwar movement, campus protests, urban guerilla action—in general, a culture of rebellion. She takes a close look at the compromises and negotiations that were involved in determining TV content, as well as the ideological difficulties producers and networks faced in attempting to appeal to a youthful cohort so disaffected from dominant institutions. While programs that featured narratives about hippies, draft resisters, or revolutionaries are examined under this lens, Groove Tube doesn’t stop there: it also examines how the nation’s rebellious youth responded to these representations. Bodroghkozy explains how, as members of the first “TV generation,” some made sense of their societal disaffection in part through their childhood experience with this powerful new medium. Groove Tube will interest sociologists, American historians, students and scholars of television and media studies, and others who want to know more about the 1960s.
This timely collection brings feminist critique to bear on contemporary postfeminist mass media culture, analyzing phenomena ranging from action films featuring violent heroines to the “girling” of aging women in productions such as the movie Something’s Gotta Give and the British television series 10 Years Younger. Broadly defined, “postfeminism” encompasses a set of assumptions that feminism has accomplished its goals and is now a thing of the past. It presumes that women are unsatisfied with their (taken for granted) legal and social equality and can find fulfillment only through practices of transformation and empowerment. Postfeminism is defined by class, age, and racial exclusions; it is youth-obsessed and white and middle-class by default. Anchored in consumption as a strategy and leisure as a site for the production of the self, postfeminist mass media assumes that the pleasures and lifestyles with which it is associated are somehow universally shared and, perhaps more significantly, universally accessible.
Essays by feminist film, media, and literature scholars based in the United States and United Kingdom provide an array of perspectives on the social and political implications of postfeminism. Examining magazines, mainstream and independent cinema, popular music, and broadcast genres from primetime drama to reality television, contributors consider how postfeminism informs self-fashioning through makeovers and cosmetic surgery, the “metrosexual” male, the “black chick flick,” and more. Interrogating Postfeminism demonstrates not only the viability of, but also the necessity for, a powerful feminist critique of contemporary popular culture.
Contributors. Sarah Banet-Weiser, Steven Cohan, Lisa Coulthard, Anna Feigenbaum, Suzanne Leonard, Angela McRobbie, Diane Negra, Sarah Projansky, Martin Roberts, Hannah E. Sanders, Kimberly Springer, Yvonne Tasker, Sadie Wearing
In Kids Rule! Sarah Banet-Weiser examines the cable network Nickelodeon in order to rethink the relationship between children, media, citizenship, and consumerism. Nickelodeon is arguably the most commercially successful cable network ever. Broadcasting original programs such as Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Rugrats (and producing related movies, Web sites, and merchandise), Nickelodeon has worked aggressively to claim and maintain its position as the preeminent creator and distributor of television programs for America’s young children, tweens, and teens. Banet-Weiser argues that a key to its success is its construction of children as citizens within a commercial context. The network’s self-conscious engagement with kids—its creation of a “Nickelodeon Nation” offering choices and empowerment within a world structured by rigid adult rules—combines an appeal to kids’ formidable purchasing power with assertions of their political and cultural power.
Banet-Weiser draws on interviews with nearly fifty children as well as with network professionals; coverage of Nickelodeon in both trade and mass media publications; and analysis of the network’s programs. She provides an overview of the media industry within which Nickelodeon emerged in the early 1980s as well as a detailed investigation of its brand-development strategies. She also explores Nickelodeon’s commitment to “girl power,” its ambivalent stance on multiculturalism and diversity, and its oft-remarked appeal to adult viewers. Banet-Weiser does not condemn commercial culture nor dismiss the opportunities for community and belonging it can facilitate. Rather she contends that in the contemporary media environment, the discourses of political citizenship and commercial citizenship so thoroughly inform one another that they must be analyzed in tandem. Together they play a fundamental role in structuring children’s interactions with television.
Between 1948 and 1955, nearly two-thirds of all American families bought a television set—and a revolution in social life and popular culture was launched.
In this fascinating book, Lynn Spigel chronicles the enormous impact of television in the formative years of the new medium: how, over the course of a single decade, television became an intimate part of everyday life. What did Americans expect from it? What effects did the new daily ritual of watching television have on children? Was television welcomed as an unprecedented "window on the world," or as a "one-eyed monster" that would disrupt households and corrupt children?
Drawing on an ambitious array of unconventional sources, from sitcom scripts to articles and advertisements in women's magazines, Spigel offers the fullest available account of the popular response to television in the postwar years. She chronicles the role of television as a focus for evolving debates on issues ranging from the ideal of the perfect family and changes in women's role within the household to new uses of domestic space. The arrival of television did more than turn the living room into a private theater: it offered a national stage on which to play out and resolve conflicts about the way Americans should live.
Spigel chronicles this lively and contentious debate as it took place in the popular media. Of particular interest is her treatment of the way in which the phenomenon of television itself was constantly deliberated—from how programs should be watched to where the set was placed to whether Mom, Dad, or kids should control the dial.
Make Room for TV combines a powerful analysis of the growth of electronic culture with a nuanced social history of family life in postwar America, offering a provocative glimpse of the way television became the mirror of so many of America's hopes and fears and dreams.
In 2004, roughly 25 makeover-themed reality shows aired on U.S. television. By 2009, there were more than 250, from What Not to Wear and The Biggest Loser to Dog Whisperer and Pimp My Ride. In Makeover TV, Brenda R. Weber argues that whether depicting transformations of bodies, trucks, finances, relationships, kids, or homes, makeover shows posit a self achievable only in the transition from the “Before-body”—the overweight figure, the decrepit jalopy, the cluttered home—to the “After-body,” one filled with confidence, coded with celebrity, and imbued with a renewed faith in the powers of meritocracy. The rationales and tactics invoked to achieve the After-body vary widely, from the patriotic to the market-based, and from talk therapy to feminist empowerment. The genre is unified by its contradictions: to uncover your “true self,” you must be reinvented; to be empowered, you must surrender to experts; to be special, you must look and act like everyone else.
Based on her analysis of more than 2,500 hours of makeover TV, Weber argues that the much-desired After-body speaks to and makes legible broader cultural narratives about selfhood, citizenship, celebrity, and Americanness. Although makeovers are directed at both male and female viewers, their gendered logic requires that feminized subjects submit to the controlling expertise wielded by authorities. The genre does not tolerate ambiguity. Conventional (middle-class, white, ethnically anonymous, heterosexual) femininity is the goal of makeovers for women. When subjects are male, makeovers often compensate for perceived challenges to masculine independence by offering men narrative options for resistance or control. Foregoing a binary model of power and subjugation, Weber provides an account of makeover television that is as appreciative as it is critical. She reveals the makeover show as a rich and complicated text that expresses cultural desires and fears through narratives of selfhood.
Mobile Cultures provides much-needed, empirically grounded studies of the connections between new media technologies, the globalization of sexual cultures, and the rise of queer Asia. The availability and use of new media—fax machines, mobile phones, the Internet, electronic message boards, pagers, and global television—have grown exponentially in Asia over the past decade. This explosion of information technology has sparked a revolution, transforming lives and lifestyles, enabling the creation of communities and the expression of sexual identities in a region notorious for the regulation of both information and sexual conduct. Whether looking at the hanging of toy cartoon characters like “Hello Kitty” from mobile phones to signify queer identity in Japan or at the development of queer identities in Indonesia or Singapore, the essays collected here emphasize the enormous variance in the appeal and uses of new media from one locale to another.
Scholars, artists, and activists from a range of countries, the contributors chronicle the different ways new media galvanize Asian queer communities in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and around the world. They consider phenomena such as the uses of the Internet among gay, lesbian, or queer individuals in Taiwan and South Korea; the international popularization of Japanese queer pop culture products such as Yaoi manga; and a Thai website’s reading of a scientific tract on gay genetics in light of Buddhist beliefs. Essays also explore the politically subversive possibilities opened up by the proliferation of media technologies, examining, for instance, the use of Cyberjaya—Malaysia’s government-backed online portal—to form online communities in the face of strict antigay laws.
Contributors. Chris Berry, Tom Boellstorff, Larissa Hjorth, Katrien Jacobs, Olivia Khoo, Fran Martin, Mark McLelland, David Mullaly, Baden Offord, Sandip Roy, Veruska Sabucco, Audrey Yue
Analyzes how television delivers definitions of "femininity" to its female audiences. Includes a source guide for television shows from 1946-1970.
"'This book contains competent studies that will probably be of most interest to students of media, communications and images in popular culture. Non-specialist fans of the shows discussed will also have great fun seconding or contesting the authors' conclusions." Women's Review
"This collection represents the cutting edge of feminist cultural criticism today - a heady mixture of substantive historical studies, innovative reception analyses, and sophisticated textual work. This wide-ranging approach brings a richness and texture to the topics being analyzed and effectively demonstrates the (by now axiomatic) principle of cultural studies as a multilayered project." Contemporary Sociology
Contributors: Julie D'Acci, Sarah Berry, Aniko Bodroghkozy, Robert H. Deming, Dan Einstein, Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, Mary Beth Haralovich, Lynne Joyrich, William Lafferty, Nina Liebman, George Lipsitz, Denise Mann, Lynn Spigel, Jillian Steinberger and Randall Vogt.
In Production Culture, John Thornton Caldwell investigates the cultural practices and belief systems of Los Angeles–based film and video production workers: not only those in prestigious positions such as producers and directors but also many “below-the-line” laborers, including gaffers, editors, and camera operators. Caldwell analyzes the narratives and rituals through which workers make sense of their labor and critique the film and TV industry as well as the culture writ large. As a self-reflexive industry, Hollywood constantly exposes itself and its production processes to the public; workers’ ideas about the industry are embedded in their daily practices and the media they create. Caldwell suggests ways that scholars might learn from the industry’s habitual self-scrutiny.
Drawing on interviews, observations of sets and workplaces, and analyses of TV shows, industry documents, economic data, and promotional materials, Caldwell shows how film and video workers function in a transformed, post-network industry. He chronicles how workers have responded to changes including media convergence, labor outsourcing, increasingly unstable labor and business relations, new production technologies, corporate conglomeration, and the proliferation of user-generated content. He explores new struggles over “authorship” within collective creative endeavors, the way that branding and syndication have become central business strategies for networks, and the “viral” use of industrial self-reflexivity to motivate consumers through DVD bonus tracks, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and “making-ofs.” A significant, on-the-ground analysis of an industry in flux, Production Culture offers new ways of thinking about media production as a cultural activity.
The 1980s saw the rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right in American politics, the popularity of programs such as thirtysomething and Dynasty on network television, and the increasingly widespread use of VCRs, cable TV, and remote control in American living rooms. In Seeing Through the Eighties, Jane Feuer critically examines this most aesthetically complex and politically significant period in the history of American television in the context of the prevailing conservative ideological climate. With wit, humor, and an undisguised appreciation of TV, she demonstrates the richness of this often-slighted medium as a source of significance for cultural criticism and delivers a compelling decade-defining analysis of our most recent past. With a cast of characters including Michael, Hope, Elliot, Nancy, Melissa, and Gary; Alexis, Krystle, Blake, and all the other Carringtons; not to mention Maddie and David; even Crockett and Tubbs, Feuer smoothly blends close readings of well-known programs and analysis of television’s commercial apparatus with a thorough-going theoretical perspective engaged with the work of Baudrillard, Fiske, and others. Her comparative look at Yuppie TV, Prime Time Soaps, and made-for-TV-movie Trauma Dramas reveals the contradictions and tensions at work in much prime-time programming and in the frustrations of the American popular consciousness. Seeing Through the Eighties also addresses the increased commodification of both the producers and consumers of television as a result of technological innovations and the introduction of new marketing techniques. Claiming a close relationship between television and the cultures that create and view it, Jane Feuer sees the eighties through televison while seeing through television in every sense of the word.
In the last ten years, television has reinvented itself in numerous ways. The demise of the U.S. three-network system, the rise of multi-channel cable and global satellite delivery, changes in regulation policies and ownership rules, technological innovations in screen design, and the development of digital systems like TiVo have combined to transform the practice we call watching tv. If tv refers to the technologies, program forms, government policies, and practices of looking associated with the medium in its classic public service and three-network age, it appears that we are now entering a new phase of television. Exploring these changes, the essays in this collection consider the future of television in the United States and Europe and the scholarship and activism focused on it.
With historical, critical, and speculative essays by some of the leading television and media scholars, Television after TV examines both commercial and public service traditions and evaluates their dual (and some say merging) fates in our global, digital culture of convergence. The essays explore a broad range of topics, including contemporary programming and advertising strategies, the use of television and the Internet among diasporic and minority populations, the innovations of new technologies like TiVo, the rise of program forms from reality tv to lifestyle programs, television’s changing role in public places and at home, the Internet’s use as a means of social activism, and television’s role in education and the arts. In dialogue with previous media theorists and historians, the contributors collectively rethink the goals of media scholarship, pointing toward new ways of accounting for television’s past, present, and future.
Contributors. William Boddy, Charlotte Brunsdon, John T. Caldwell, Michael Curtin, Julie D’Acci, Anna Everett, Jostein Gripsrud, John Hartley, Anna McCarthy, David Morley, Jan Olsson, Priscilla Peña Ovalle, Lisa Parks, Jeffrey Sconce, Lynn Spigel, William Uricchio
Television as Digital Media
James Bennett and Niki Strange, eds. Duke University Press, 2011 Library of Congress HM851.T465 2011 | Dewey Decimal 302.2345
In Television as Digital Media, scholars from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States combine television studies with new media studies to analyze digital TV as part of digital culture. Taking into account technologies, industries, economies, aesthetics, and various production, user, and audience practices, the contributors develop a new critical paradigm for thinking about television, and the future of television studies, in the digital era. The collection brings together established and emerging scholars, producing an intergenerational dialogue that will be useful for anyone seeking to understand the relationship between television and digital media.
Introducing the collection, James Bennett explains how television as digital media is a non-site-specific, hybrid cultural and technological form that spreads across platforms such as mobile phones, games consoles, iPods, and online video services, including YouTube, Hulu and the BBC’s iPlayer. Television as digital media threatens to upset assumptions about television as a mass medium that has helped define the social collective experience, the organization of everyday life, and forms of sociality. As often as we are promised the convenience of the television experience “anytime, anywhere,” we are invited to participate in communities, share television moments, and watch events live. The essays in this collection demonstrate the historical, production, aesthetic, and audience changes and continuities that underpin the emerging meaning of television as digital media.
Contributors. James Bennett, William Boddy, Jean Burgess, John Caldwell, Daniel Chamberlain, Max Dawson, Jason Jacobs, Karen Lury, Roberta Pearson, Jeanette Steemers, Niki Strange, Julian Thomas, Graeme Turner
Tuning Out Blackness fills a glaring omission in U.S. and Latin American television studies by looking at the history of Puerto Rican television. In exploring the political and cultural dynamics that have shaped racial representations in Puerto Rico’s commercial media from the late 1940s to the 1990s, Yeidy M. Rivero advances critical discussions about race, ethnicity, and the media. She shows that televisual representations of race have belied the racial egalitarianism that allegedly pervades Puerto Rico’s national culture. White performers in blackface have often portrayed “blackness” in local television productions, while black actors have been largely excluded.
Drawing on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and textual analysis, Rivero considers representations of race in Puerto Rico, taking into account how they are intertwined with the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, its national culture, its relationship with Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the massive influx of Cuban migrants after 1960. She focuses on locally produced radio and television shows, particular television events, and characters that became popular media icons—from the performer Ramón Rivero’s use of blackface and “black” voice in the 1940s and 1950s, to the battle between black actors and television industry officials over racism in the 1970s, to the creation, in the 1990s, of the first Puerto Rican situation comedy featuring a black family. As the twentieth century drew to a close, multinational corporations had purchased all Puerto Rican stations and threatened to wipe out locally produced programs. Tuning Out Blackness brings to the forefront the marginalization of nonwhite citizens in Puerto Rico’s media culture and raises important questions about the significance of local sites of television production.
While critics have long disparaged commercial television as a vast wasteland, TV has surprising links to the urbane world of modern art that stretch back to the 1950s and ’60s During that era, the rapid rise of commercial television coincided with dynamic new movements in the visual arts—a potent combination that precipitated a major shift in the way Americans experienced the world visually. TV by Design uncovers this captivating story of how modernism and network television converged and intertwined in their mutual ascent during the decades of the cold war.
Whereas most histories of television focus on the way older forms of entertainment were recycled for the new medium, Lynn Spigel shows how TV was instrumental in introducing the public to the latest trends in art and design. Abstract expressionism, pop art, art cinema, modern architecture, and cutting-edge graphic design were all mined for staging techniques, scenic designs, and an ever-growing number of commercials. As a result, TV helped fuel the public craze for trendy modern products, such as tailfin cars and boomerang coffee tables, that was vital to the burgeoning postwar economy. And along with influencing the look of television, many artists—including Eero Saarinen, Ben Shahn, Saul Bass, William Golden, and Richard Avedon—also participated in its creation as the networks put them to work designing everything from their corporate headquarters to their company cufflinks.
Dizzy Gillespie, Ernie Kovacs, Duke Ellington, and Andy Warhol all stop by in this imaginative and winning account of the ways in which art, television, and commerce merged in the first decades of the TV age.
Passengers disco dancing in The Love Boat’s Acapulco Lounge. A young girl walking by a marquee advertising Deep Throat in the made-for-TV movie Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway. A frustrated housewife borrowing Orgasm and You from her local library in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Commercial television of the 1970s was awash with references to sex. In the wake of the sexual revolution and the women’s liberation and gay rights movements, significant changes were rippling through American culture. In representing—or not representing—those changes, broadcast television provided a crucial forum through which Americans alternately accepted and contested momentous shifts in sexual mores, identities, and practices.
Wallowing in Sex is a lively analysis of the key role of commercial television in the new sexual culture of the 1970s. Elana Levine explores sex-themed made-for-TV movies; female sex symbols such as the stars of Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman; the innuendo-driven humor of variety shows (The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Laugh-In), sitcoms (M*A*S*H, Three’s Company), and game shows (Match Game); and the proliferation of rape plots in daytime soap operas. She also uncovers those sexual topics that were barred from the airwaves. Along with program content, Levine examines the economic motivations of the television industry, the television production process, regulation by the government and the tv industry, and audience responses. She demonstrates that the new sexual culture of 1970s television was a product of negotiation between producers, executives, advertisers, censors, audiences, performers, activists, and many others. Ultimately, 1970s television legitimized some of the sexual revolution’s most significant gains while minimizing its more radical impulses.
In the early 1960s, whenever the Today Show discussed integration, wlbt-tv, the nbc affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi, cut away to local news after announcing that the Today Show content was “network news . . . represent[ing] the views of the northern press.” This was only one part of a larger effort by wlbt and other local stations to keep African Americans and integrationists off Jackson’s television screens. Watching Jim Crow presents the vivid story of the successful struggles of African Americans to achieve representation in the tv programming of Jackson, a city many considered one of the strongest bastions of Jim Crow segregation. Steven D. Classen provides a detailed social history of media activism and communications policy during the civil rights era. He focuses on the years between 1955—when Medgar Evers and the naacp began urging the two local stations, wlbt and wjtv, to stop censoring African Americans and discussions of integration—and 1969, when the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision denying wlbt renewal of its operating license.
During the 1990s, Classen conducted extensive interviews with more than two dozen African Americans living in Jackson, several of whom, decades earlier, had fought to integrate television programming. He draws on these interviews not only to illuminate their perceptions—of the civil rights movement, what they accomplished, and the present as compared with the past—but also to reveal the inadequate representation of their viewpoints in the legal proceedings surrounding wlbt’s licensing. The story told in Watching Jim Crow has significant implications today, not least because the Telecommunications Act of 1996 effectively undid many of the hard-won reforms achieved by activists—including those whose stories Classen relates here.
In Welcome to the Dreamhouse feminist media studies pioneer Lynn Spigel takes on Barbie collectors, African American media coverage of the early NASA space launches, and television’s changing role in the family home and its links to the broader visual culture of modern art. Exploring postwar U.S. media in the context of the period’s reigning ideals about home and family life, Spigel looks at a range of commercial objects and phenomena, from television and toys to comic books and magazines. The volume considers not only how the media portrayed suburban family life, but also how both middle-class ideals and a perceived division between private and public worlds helped to shape the visual forms, storytelling practices, and reception of postwar media and consumer culture. Spigel also explores those aspects of suburban culture that media typically render invisible. She looks at the often unspoken assumptions about class, nation, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation that underscored both media images (like those of 1960s space missions) and social policies of the mass-produced suburb. Issues of memory and nostalgia are central in the final section as Spigel considers how contemporary girls use television reruns as a source for women’s history and then analyzes the current nostalgia for baby boom era family ideals that runs through contemporary images of new household media technologies. Containing some of Spigel’s well-known essays on television’s cultural history as well as new essays on a range of topics dealing with popular visual culture, Welcome to the Dreamhouse is important reading for students and scholars of media and communications studies, popular culture, American studies, women’s studies, and sociology.