Innovator Award for Edited Collection from the Central States Communication Association (CSCA)
Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful players in contemporary American network television. Beginning with her break-out hit series Grey’s Anatomy, she has successfully debuted Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, For The People, and Station 19. Rhimes’s work is attentive to identity politics, “post-” identity politics, power, and representation, addressing innumerable societal issues. Rhimes intentionally addresses these issues with diverse characters and story lines that center, for example, on interracial friendships and relationships, LGBTIQ relationships and parenting, the impact of disability on familial and work dynamics, and complex representations of womanhood. This volume serves as a means to theorize Rhimes’s contributions and influence by inspiring provocative conversations about television as a deeply politicized institution and exploring how Rhimes fits into the implications of twenty-first century television.
Television is evolving rapidly. How, then, might we respond to television today in light of its past? And do the old theoretical concepts still apply, or must we invent a new framework for this mutable medium? To answer these fundamental questions, the contributors to this provocative collection examine diverse case studies, including up-to-date scholarship on the current television zeitgeist, nostalgic programming on broadcast television, YouTube, and public television art programming of the 1980s. As a whole, these essays challenge the supposed crisis in television in the light of its burgeoning development.
Although we tend to think of television primarily as a household fixture, TV monitors outside the home are widespread: in bars, laundromats, and stores; conveying flight arrival and departure times in airports; uniting crowds at sports events and allaying boredom in waiting rooms; and helping to pass the time in workplaces of all kinds. In Ambient Television Anna McCarthy explores the significance of this pervasive phenomenon, tracing the forms of conflict, commerce, and community that television generates outside the home. Discussing the roles television has played in different institutions from 1945 to the present day, McCarthy draws on a wide array of sources. These include retail merchandising literature, TV industry trade journals, and journalistic discussions of public viewing, as well as the work of cultural geographers, architectural theorists, media scholars, and anthropologists. She also uses photography as a research tool, documenting the uses and meanings of television sets in the built environment, and focuses on such locations as the tavern and the department store to show how television is used to support very different ideas about gender, class, and consumption. Turning to contemporary examples, McCarthy discusses practices such as Turner Private Networks’ efforts to transform waiting room populations into advertising audiences and the use of point-of-sale video that influences brand visibility and consumer behavior. Finally, she inquires into the activist potential of out-of-home television through a discussion of the video practices of two contemporary artists in everyday public settings. Scholars and students of cultural, visual, urban, American, film, and television studies will be interested in this thought-provoking, interdisciplinary book.
America’ s First Network TV Censor: The Work of NBC’ s Stockton Helffrich is a unique examination of early television censorship, centered around the papers of Stockton Helffrich, the first manager of the censorship department at NBC. Set against the backdrop of postwar America and contextualized by myriad primary sources including original interviews and unpublished material, Helffrich’ s reports illustrate how early censorship of advertising, language, and depictions of sex, violence, and race shaped the new medium. While other books have cited Helffrich’ s reports, none have considered them as a body of work, complemented by the details of Helffrich’ s life and the era in which he lived. America’ s First Network TV Censor explores the ways in which Helffrich’ s personal history and social class influenced his perception of his role as NBC-TV censor and his tendency to ignore certain political and cultural taboos while embracing others.
Author Robert Pondillo considers Helffrich’ s life in broadcasting before and after the Second World War, and his censorial work in the context of 1950s American culture and emerging network television. Pondillo discusses the ways that cultural phenomena, including the arrival of the mid-twentieth-century religious boom, McCarthyism, the dawn of the Civil Rights era, and the social upheaval over sex, music, and youth, contributed to a general sense that the country was morally adrift and ripe for communist takeover.
Five often-censored subjects— advertising, language, and depictions of sex, violence, and race— are explored in detail, exposing the surprising complexity and nuance of early media censorship. Questions of whether too many sadistic westerns would coarsen America’ s children, how to talk about homosexuality without using the word “ homosexuality,” and how best to advertise toilet paper without offending people were on Helffrich’ s mind; his answers to these questions helped shape the broadcast media we know today.
Archie Bunker’s America discerns what was “in the air” as television networks tried to accommodate cultural and political swings in America from the Vietnam era through the late 1970s. Josh Ozersky’s spirited examination of the ways America changed television during a period of intense social upheaval, recuperation, and fragmentation uncovers a bold and beguiling facet of American cultural history. From the conflict-based comedy of All in the Family and such post-sixties frolics as Three’s Company to tendentiously apolitical programs like Happy Days, Ozersky describes the range and power of television to echo larger schemes of American life.
Around 1968, advertisers who were anxious to break into the lucrative baby-boomer demographic convinced television networks to begin to abandon prime-time programming that catered to universal audiences. With the market splintering, networks ventured into more issue-based and controversial territories. While early network attempts at more “relevant” programming failed, Ozersky examines how CBS struck gold with the political comedy All in the Family in 1971 and how other successful, conflict-based comedies turned away from typical show business conventions. As the 1970s wore on, the innovations of the previous years began to lose their public appeal. After Vietnam and Watergate, Ozersky argues, Americans were exhausted from the political turbulence of the preceding decade and were ready for a televisual “return to normalcy.”
Straightforward, engaging, and liberally illustrated, Archie Bunker’s America is peppered with the stories of outsider cops and failed variety shows, of a young Bill Murray and an old Ed Sullivan, of Mary Tyler Moore, Fonzie, and the Skipper, too. Drawing on interviews with television insiders, trade publications, and the programs themselves, Ozersky chronicles the ongoing attempts of prime-time television to program for a fragmented audience—an audience whose greatest common denominator, by 1978, may well have been the act of watching television itself. The book also includes a foreword by renowned media critic Mark Crispin Miller and an epilogue of related commentary on the following decades.
Despite their considerable presence in Hollywood, extras and working actors have received scant attention within film and media studies as significant contributors to the history of the industry. Looking not to the stars but to these supporting players in film, television, and, recently, streaming programming, Below the Stars highlights such actors as precarious laborers whose work as freelancers has critically shaped the entertainment industry throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. By addressing ordinary actors as a labor force, Kate Fortmueller proposes a media industry history that positions underrepresented and quotidian experiences as the structural elements of the culture and business of Hollywood. Resisting a top-down assessment, Fortmueller explores the wrangling of labor unions and guilds that advocated for collective action for everyday actors and helped shape professional norms. She pulls from archival research, in-person interviews, and firsthand observation to examine a history that cuts across industry boundaries and situates actors as a labor group at the center of industrial and technological upheavals, with lasting implications for race, gender, and labor relations in Hollywood.
First demonstrated in 1928, color television remained little more than a novelty for decades as the industry struggled with the considerable technical, regulatory, commercial, and cultural complications posed by the medium. Only fully adopted by all three networks in the 1960s, color television was imagined as a new way of seeing that was distinct from both monochrome television and other forms of color media. It also inspired compelling popular, scientific, and industry conversations about the use and meaning of color and its effects on emotions, vision, and desire. In Bright Signals Susan Murray traces these wide-ranging debates within and beyond the television industry, positioning the story of color television, which was replete with false starts, failure, and ingenuity, as central to the broader history of twentieth-century visual culture. In so doing, she shows how color television disrupted and reframed the very idea of television while it simultaneously revealed the tensions about technology's relationship to consumerism, human sight, and the natural world.
On 2 November 1936 the world's first high definition television station was inaugurated at Alexandra Palace. Two competing companies, Marconi-EMI Television Company Ltd and Baird Television Ltd, provided studio and transmitting equipment for the new service which operated, on an alternate basis, with the systems of the two companies. After a trial period the 405-line system of the Marconi-EMI company was adopted and the last transmission by the 240-line system of Baird Television Ltd was sent out on 30 January 1937.
Broadcasting Hollywood: The Struggle Over Feature Films on Early Television uses extensive archival research into the files of studios, networks, advertising agencies, unions and guilds, theatre associations, the FCC, and key legal cases to analyze the tensions and synergies between the film and television industries in the early years of television. This analysis of the case study of the struggle over Hollywood’s feature films appearing on television in the 1940s and 1950s illustrates that the notion of an industry misunderstands the complex array of stakeholders who work in and profit from a media sector, and models a variegated examination of the history of media industries. Ultimately, it draws a parallel to the contemporary period and the introduction of digital media to highlight the fact that history repeats itself and can therefore play a key role in helping media industry scholars and practitioners to understand and navigate contemporary industrial phenomena.
The birth and development of commercial television in Cuba in the 1950s occurred alongside political and social turmoil. In this period of dramatic swings encompassing democracy, a coup, a dictatorship, and a revolution, television functioned as a beacon and promoter of Cuba’s identity as a modern nation. In Broadcasting Modernity, television historian Yeidy M. Rivero shows how television owners, regulatory entities, critics, and the state produced Cuban modernity for television. The Cuban television industry enabled different institutions to convey the nation's progress, democracy, economic abundance, high culture, education, morality, and decency. After nationalizing Cuban television, the state used it to advance Fidel Castro's project of creating a modern socialist country. As Cuba changed, television changed with it. Rivero not only demonstrates television's importance to Cuban cultural identity formation, she explains how the medium functions in society during times of radical political and social transformation.
During the tumultuous 1990s, as Russia struggled to shed the trappings of the Soviet empire, television viewing emerged as an enormous influence on Russian life. The number of viewers who routinely watch the nightly news in Russia matches the number of Americans who tune in to the Super Bowl, thus making TV coverage the prized asset for which political leaders intensely—and sometimes violently—compete. In this revised and expanded edition of Changing Channels, Ellen Mickiewicz provides many fascinating insights, describing the knowing ways in which ordinary Russians watch the news, skeptically analyze information, and develop strategies for dealing with news bias. Covering the period from the state-controlled television broadcasts at the end of the Soviet Union through the attempted coup against Gorbachev, the war in Chechnya, the presidential election of 1996, and the economic collapse of 1998, Mickiewicz draws on firsthand research, public opinion surveys, and many interviews with key players, including Gorbachev himself. By examining the role that television has played in the struggle to create political pluralism in Russia, she reveals how this struggle is both helped and hindered by the barrage of information, advertisements, and media-created personalities that populate the airwaves. Perhaps most significantly, she shows how television has emerged as the sole emblem of legitimate authority and has provided a rare and much-needed connection from one area of this huge, crisis-laden country to the next. This new edition of Changing Channels will be valued by those interested in Russian studies, politics, media and communications, and cultural studies, as well as general readers who desire an up-to-date view of crucial developments in Russia at the end of the twentieth century.
Set against the background of Bolivia’s prominent urban festival parades and the country’s recent appearance on the front lines of antiglobalization movements, Circuits of Culture is the first social analysis of Bolivian film and television, their circulation through the social and national landscape, and the emergence of the country’s indigenous video movement.
At the heart of Jeff Himpele’s examination is an ethnography of the popular television program, The Open Tribunal of the People. The indigenous and underrepresented majorities in La Paz have used the talk show to publicize their social problems and seek medical and legal assistance from the show’s hosts and the political party they launched. Himpele studies the program in order to identify the possibilities of the mass media as a site for political discourse and as a means of social action.
Charting as well the history of Bolivia’s media culture, Himpele perceptively investigates cinematic media as sites for understanding the modernization of Bolivia, its social movements, and the formation of indigenous identities, and in doing so provides a new framework for exploring the circulation of culture as a way of creating publics, political movements, and producing media.
Jeff D. Himpele is associate director for the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University. He is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker; his films include the award-winning Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza and Taypi Kala: Six Visions of Tiwanaku.
In 1957 Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, dazzled people as it zipped around the planet. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than eight thousand satellites orbited the Earth, and satellite practices such as live transmission, direct broadcasting, remote sensing, and astronomical observation had altered how we imagined ourselves in relation to others and our planet within the cosmos. In Cultures in Orbit, Lisa Parks analyzes these satellite practices and shows how they have affected meanings of “the global” and “the televisual.” Parks suggests that the convergence of broadcast, satellite, and computer technologies necessitates an expanded definition of “television,” one that encompasses practices of military monitoring and scientific observation as well as commercial entertainment and public broadcasting.
Roaming across the disciplines of media studies, geography, and science and technology studies, Parks examines uses of satellites by broadcasters, military officials, archaeologists, and astronomers. She looks at Our World, a live intercontinental television program that reached five hundred million viewers in 1967, and Imparja tv, an Aboriginal satellite tv network in Australia. Turning to satellites’ remote-sensing capabilities, she explores the U.S. military’s production of satellite images of the war in Bosnia as well as archaeologists’ use of satellites in the excavation of Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria, Egypt. Parks’s reflections on how Western fantasies of control are implicated in the Hubble telescope’s views of outer space point to a broader concern: that while satellite uses promise a “global village,” they also cut and divide the planet in ways that extend the hegemony of the post-industrial West. In focusing on such contradictions, Parks highlights how satellites cross paths with cultural politics and social struggles.
What does a country's television programming say about its deep character, beliefs, dreams, and fears? In Demon in the Box, Tasha G. Oren recounts the volatile history of Israeli television and thereby reveals the history of the nation itself.
Initially rejected as a corrupting influence on "the people of the book," television became the object of fantasies and anxieties that went to the heart of Israel's most pressing concerns: Arab-Israeli relations, immigration, and the forging of a modern Israeli culture. Television broadcasting was aimed toward external relations-the flow of messages across borders, Arab-Israeli conflict, and the shaping of public opinion worldwide-as much as it was toward internal needs and interests. Through archival research and analysis of public scandals and early programs, Oren traces Israeli television's transformation from a feared agent of decadence to a powerful national communication tool, and eventually, to a vastly popular entertainment medium.
How do people come to think of themselves as part of a nation? Dramas of Nationhood identifies a fantastic cultural form that binds together the Egyptian nation—television serials. These melodramatic programs—like soap operas but more closely tied to political and social issues than their Western counterparts—have been shown on television in Egypt for more than thirty years. In this book, Lila Abu-Lughod examines the shifting politics of these serials and the way their contents both reflect and seek to direct the changing course of Islam, gender relations, and everyday life in this Middle Eastern nation.
Representing a decade's worth of research, Dramas of Nationhood makes a case for the importance of studying television to answer larger questions about culture, power, and modern self-fashionings. Abu-Lughod explores the elements of developmentalist ideology and the visions of national progress that once dominated Egyptian television—now experiencing a crisis. She discusses the broadcasts in rich detail, from the generic emotional qualities of TV serials and the depictions of authentic national culture, to the debates inflamed by their deliberate strategies for combating religious extremism.
Envisioning Socialism examines television and the power it exercised to define the East Germans’ view of socialism during the first decades of the German Democratic Republic. In the first book in English to examine this topic, Heather L. Gumbert traces how television became a medium prized for its communicative and entertainment value. She explores the difficulties GDR authorities had defining and executing a clear vision of the society they hoped to establish, and she explains how television helped to stabilize GDR society in a way that ultimately worked against the utopian vision the authorities thought they were cultivating.
Gumbert challenges those who would dismiss East German television as a tool of repression that couldn’t compete with the West or capture the imagination of East Germans. Instead, she shows how, by the early 1960s, television was a model of the kind of socialist realist art that could appeal to authorities and audiences. Ultimately, this socialist vision was overcome by the challenges that the international market in media products and technologies posed to nation-building in the postwar period.
A history of ideas and perceptions examining both real and mediated historical conditions, Envisioning Socialism considers television as a technology, an institution, and a medium of social relations and cultural knowledge. The book will be welcomed in undergraduate and graduate courses in German and media history, the history of postwar Socialism, and the history of science and technologies.
Equal Time: Television and the Civil Rights Movement explores the crucial role of network television in reconfiguring new attitudes in race relations during the civil rights movement. Due to widespread coverage, the civil rights revolution quickly became the United States' first televised major domestic news story. This important medium unmistakably influenced the ongoing movement for African American empowerment, desegregation, and equality.
Aniko Bodroghkozy brings to the foreground network news treatment of now-famous civil rights events including the 1965 Selma voting rights campaign, integration riots at the University of Mississippi, and the March on Washington, including Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. She also examines the most high-profile and controversial television series of the era to feature African American actors--East Side/West Side, Julia, and Good Times--to reveal how entertainment programmers sought to represent a rapidly shifting consensus on what "blackness" and "whiteness" meant and how they now fit together.
How diverse can, and should, TV programming be? And especially, in what precise ways does governmental regulation of TV affect (or fail to affect) the programs station owners produce—programs which, in the final analysis, shape in such large measure the values of Americans? It is to these timely and beguiling questions that Harvey Levin addresses his dispassionate assessment of the complex relationship between government and the TV industry. Analyzing data drawn from the history of the FCC's regulatory decisions, as well as from interviews with numerous government and industry officials, Professor Levin shows how the present form of restrictive governmental regulation almost always results in higher profits and rents for TV stations, with no concomitant increase in programming diversity. In addition, Professor Levin investigates various other aspects of the media market, from the particular kinds of crucial decisions that are made when, for example, a newspaper owns a TV station, to the kinds of problems that arise when commercial rents are taxed to fund public TV; from the brand of programming we are offered when a monopoly controls a given TV market to the nature of programming in a situation of steady and fair competition. Following a comprehensive assessment, the author makes a compelling case for diversification of station ownership, in order to be "safe rather than sorry." He also argues for the entry of new stations, more extensive support of public TV, and some form of quantitative program requirements—all of which will help bring about greater program diversity. Professor Levin's volume provides us with a fully documented and sharply focused analysis of the theories, policies, and problems of one of the most powerful and misunderstood of contemporary institutions.
William Boddy provides a wide-ranging, rigorous analysis of the fledging American television industry during the period of its greatest economic growth, programming changes, and critical controversy. He traces the medium's development from the experimental era through the regulatory battles of the 1940s and the network programming wars of the 1950s.
Many contemporary television series from Modern Family to How to Get Away with Murder open an episode or season with a conflict and then go back in time to show how that conflict came to be. In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines these narratives, showing how these leaps in time create aesthetic experiences of time that attune their audiences to the political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat. Examining questions of temporality in Life on Mars, the political ramifications of living under the auspices of a catastrophic future in FlashForward, and how Damages disrupts the logic of preemption, Pape shows how television helps shift political culture away from a model of rational deliberation and representation toward a politics of preemption and conformity. Exposing the mechanisms through which television supports a fear-based politics, Pape contends, will allow for the rechanneling of television's affective force into building a more productive and positive politics.
This collection of essays was selected from those presented in October 1988 at a conference sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, "Concepts of History in German Cinema." The contributors include notable historians, film scholars, and German studies specialists who explore the complex network of social, political, and religious institutions that have influenced the historiography of German cinema and television.
Before the turn of the century, Germans began to employ the medium of film to represent the past when they attempted to document their Prussian heritage. Since then, German cinema and television have promoted history as a component of personal, cultural, and national identity by consistently providing prominent treatment of historical subjects.
Although it is relatively easy to document changes in the selection and handling of these subjects, it is more difficult to determine precisely which factors have motivated those changes.
In attempting to define these factors, the link between German cinema, television, and history has developed around three interrelated issues: (1) the reception of Weimar cinema, which for most film scholars continues to be mediated to one extent or another by Siegfried Kracauer’s work; (2) the inscribing of fascism in cinema and television; and (3) the nature of, and potential for, alternatives to mainstream cinema and television.
Shanti Kumar's Gandhi Meets Primetime examines how cultural imaginations of national identity have been transformed by the rapid growth of satellite and cable television in postcolonial India. To evaluate the growing influence of foreign and domestic satellite and cable channels since 1991, the book considers a wide range of materials including contemporary television programming, historical archives, legal documents, policy statements, academic writings and journalistic accounts.
Kumar argues that India's hybrid national identity is manifested in the discourses found in this variety of empirical sources. He deconstructs representations of Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation on the state-sponsored network Doordarshan and those found on Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV network. The book closely analyzes print advertisements to trace the changing status of the television set as a cultural commodity in postcolonial India and examines publicity brochures, promotional materials and programming schedules of Indian-language networks to outline the role of vernacular media in the discourse of electronic capitalism. The empirical evidence is illuminated by theoretical analyses that combine diverse approaches such as cultural studies, poststructuralism and postcolonial criticism.
The face of U.S. television broadcasting is changing in ways that are both profound and subtle. Global Television uncovers the particular processes by which the international circulation of culture takes place, while addressing larger cultural issues such as identity formation.
Focusing on how the process of internationally made programming such as Highlander: The Series and The Odyssey—amusingly dubbed “Europudding” and “commercial white bread”—are changing television into a transnational commodity, Barbara Selznick considers how this mode of production—as a means by which transnational television is created—has both economic rewards and cultural benefits as well as drawbacks.
Global Television explores the ways these international co-productions create a “global” culture as well as help form a national identity. From British “brand” programming (e.g, Cracker) that airs on A&E in the U.S. to children’s television programs such as Plaza Sesamo, and documentaries, Selznick indicates that while the style, narrative, themes and ideologies may be interesting, corporate capitalism ultimately affects and impacts these programs in significant ways.
There are some two hundred TV markets in the country, but only one—Boston, Massachusetts—hosted a Golden Age of local programming. In this lively insider account, Terry Ann Knopf chronicles the development of Boston television, from its origins in the 1970s through its decline in the early 1990s. During TV’s heyday, not only was Boston the nation’s leader in locally produced news, programming, and public affairs, but it also became a model for other local stations around the country. It was a time of award-winning local newscasts, spirited talk shows, thought-provoking specials and documentaries, ambitious public service campaigns, and even originally produced TV films featuring Hollywood stars. Knopf also shows how this programming highlighted aspects of Boston’s own history over two turbulent decades, including the treatment of highly charged issues of race, sex, and gender—and the stations’ failure to challenge the Roman Catholic Church during its infamous sexual abuse scandal. Laced with personal insights and anecdotes, The Golden Age of Boston Television offers an intimate look at how Boston’s television stations refracted the city’s culture in unique ways, while at the same time setting national standards for television creativity and excellence.
Mapping the transformation of media activism from the seventies to the present day
Hacked Transmissions is a pioneering exploration of how social movements change across cycles of struggle and alongside technology. Weaving a rich fabric of local and international social movements and media practices, politicized hacking, and independent cultural production, it takes as its entry point a multiyear ethnography of Telestreet, a network of pirate television channels in Italy that combined emerging technologies with the medium of television to challenge the media monopoly of tycoon-turned-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Street televisions in Italy represented a unique experiment in combining old and new media to forge grassroots alliances, fight social isolation, and build more resilient communities. Alessandra Renzi digs for the roots of Telestreet in movements of the 1970s and the global activism of the 1990s to trace its transformations in the present work of one of the network’s more active nodes, insu^tv, in Naples. In so doing, she offers a comprehensive account of transnational media activism, with particular attention to the relations among groups and projects, their modes of social reproduction, the contexts giving rise to them, and the technology they adopt—from zines and radios to social media. Hacked Transmissions is also a study in method, providing examples of co-research between activist researchers and social movements, and a theoretical framework that captures the complexities of grassroots politics and the agency of technology.
Providing a rare and timely glimpse into a key activist/media project of the twenty-first century, Hacked Transmissions marks a vital contribution to debates in a range of fields, including media and communication studies, anthropology, science and technology studies, social movements studies, sociology, and cultural theory.
Thomas Edison invented his motion picture system in New Jersey in the 1890s, and within a few years most American filmmakers could be found within a mile or two of the Hudson River. They planted themselves here because they needed the artistic and entrepreneurial energy that D. W. Griffith realized New York had in abundance. But as the going rate for land and labor skyrocketed and their business grew more industrialized, most of them moved out. The way most historians explain it, the role of New York in the development of American film ends here.
In Hollywood on the Hudson, Richard Koszarski rewrites an important part of the history of American cinema. During the 1920s and 1930s, film industry executives had centralized the mass production of feature pictures in a series of gigantic film factories scattered across Southern California, while maintaining New York as the economic and administrative center. But as Koszarski reveals, many writers, producers, and directors also continued to work here, especially if their independent vision was too big for the Hollywood production line.
East Coast filmmakers-Oscar Micheaux, Rudolph Valentino, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Paul Robeson, Gloria Swanson, Max Fleischer, and others-quietly created a studio system without back-lots, long-term contracts or seasonal production slates. They substituted "newsreel photography" for Hollywood glamour, targeted niche audiences instead of middle-American families, ignored accepted dramatic conventions, and pushed the boundaries of motion picture censorship. Rebellious and unconventional, they saw the New York studios as laboratories, not factories-and used them to pioneer the development of new technologies (from talkies to television), new genres, new talent, and ultimately, an entirely new vision of commercial cinema.
Now if I just remembered where I put that original TV play device--the universal remote control . . .
Television is a global industry, a medium of representation, an architectural component of space, and a nearly universal frame of reference for viewers. Yet it is also an abstraction and an often misunderstood science whose critical influence on the development, history, and diffusion of new media has been both minimized and overlooked. How Television Invented New Media adjusts the picture of television culturally while providing a corrective history of new media studies itself.
Personal computers, video game systems, even iPods and the Internet built upon and borrowed from television to become viable forms. The earliest personal computers, disguised as video games using TV sets as monitors, provided a case study for television's key role in the emergence of digital interactive devices. Sheila C. Murphy analyzes how specific technologies emerge and how representations, from South Park to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, mine the history of television just as they converge with new methods of the making and circulation of images. Past and failed attempts to link television to computers and the Web also indicate how services like Hulu or Netflix On-Demand can give rise to a new era for entertainment and program viewing online. In these concrete ways, television's role in new and emerging media is solidified and finally recognized.
Film and television are subjects of intense study throughout higher education today. Popular culture has undergone a revolution during the last generation, progressing from a discipline at the margins that was reflexively treated with contempt to one of the most widespread and productive topic areas in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The increased attention on film and television is clearly part of this overall acceptance and growing cachet now accorded popular culture in the academy.
The Indecent Screen explores clashes over indecency in broadcast television among U.S.-based media advocates, television professionals, the Federal Communications Commission, and TV audiences. Cynthia Chris focuses on the decency debates during an approximately twenty-year period since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which in many ways restructured the media environment. Simultaneously, ever increasing channel capacity, new forms of distribution, and time-shifting (in the form of streaming and on-demand viewing options) radically changed how, when, and what we watch. But instead of these innovations quelling concerns that TV networks were too often transmitting indecent material that was accessible to children, complaints about indecency skyrocketed soon after the turn of the century. Chris demonstrates that these clashes are significant battles over the role of family, the role of government, and the value of free speech in our lives, arguing that an uncensored media is so imperative to the public good that we can, and must, endure the occasional indecent screen.
When the first television was demonstrated in 1927, a headline in The New York Times read, “Like a Photo Come to Life.” It was a momentous occasion. But the power of television wasn’t fully harnessed until the 1950s, when the medium was, as Eric Burns says, “At its most preoccupying, its most life-altering.” And Burns, a former NBC News correspondent who is an Emmy-winner for his broadcast writing, knows about the impact of television.
Invasion of the Mind Snatchers chronicles the influence of television that was watched daily by the baby boomer generation. As kids became spellbound by Howdy Doody and The Ed Sullivan Show, Burns reveals, they often acted out their favorite programs. Likewise, they purchased the merchandise being promoted by performers, and became fascinated by the personalities they saw on screen, often emulating their behavior. It was the first generation raised by TV and Burns looks at both the promise of broadcasting as espoused by the inventors, and how that promise was both redefined and lost by the corporations who helped to spread the technology.
Yet Burns also contextualizes the social, cultural, and political events that helped shape the Fifties—from Sputnik and the Rosenberg trial to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare. In doing so, he charts the effect of television on politics, religion, race, and sex, and how the medium provided a persuasive message to the young, impressionable viewers.
Recent media events like the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, the beating of Rodney King and its aftermath, and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson have trained our collective eye on the televised spectacle of race. Living Color combines media studies, cultural studies, and critical race theory to investigate the representation of race on American TV. Ranging across television genres, historical periods, and racial formations, Living Color—as it positions race as a key element of television’s cultural influence—moves the discussion out of a black-and-white binary and illustrates how class, gender, and sexuality interact with images of race. In addition to essays on representations of "Oriental" performers and African Americans in the early years of television, this collection also examines how the celebrity of the late MTV star Pedro Zamora countered racist and homophobic discourses; reveals how news coverage on drug use shifted from the white middle-class cocaine user in the early 1980s to the black "crack mother" of the 1990s; and takes on TV coverage of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent unrest in Los Angeles. Other essays consider O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, comparing television’s treatment of Simpson to that of Michael Jackson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Clarence Thomas and look at the racism directed at Asian Americans by the recurring "Dancing Itos" on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
Media and Values investigates the moral performance of the media. Based on an exhaustive number of focus groups, surveys, and interviews with senior media staffers in the United Kingdom and Europe, this book charts the changing status of the media as a moral voice. The authors argue that television has lost the authority to espouse a single vision of the proper way to live, and instead reflects the norms of a variety of social groups. This groundbreaking volume addresses the lack of moral certainty reflected both in television programs and their audiences.
“There are great riches here: from the interviews with senior media executives . . . to the discussion of popular television culture's celebration of celebrity.”—John Lloyd, Prospect
“This profoundly original and learned book creatively illuminates citizens’ moral reasoning about the media, culture, and government. A tour de force of nuanced interdisciplinary scholarship, Media & Values offers wide-ranging insights into the responsibilities of the communication industry, the justifications and consequences of telecoms regulation—and the nature of the good society itself.”—Robert M. Entman, J. B. and M. C. Shapiro Professor of Media & Public Affairs, George Washington University
“This is a very important book—a ‘must read.’ The intellectual scope is astonishing: the problem it addresses is quite crucial—namely the moral incoherence of the contemporary world and the way that this shows up in empirical research into individual attitudes/opinions/tastes/judgements. It is clearly a cumulative critical reassessment of the implications of research going back to the sixties. It’s original, powerful, thoughtful and spot-on as a diagnosis of the times and the very real issues we confront today. A major piece of work.”—Paddy Scannell, Department of Communication Studies, University of Michigan
The past twenty years have seen major changes in the ways that television formats and programming are developed and replicated internationally for different markets—with locally focused repackagings of hit reality shows leading the way. But in a sense, that’s not new: TV formats have been being exported for decades, with the approach and methods changing along with changes in broadcast technology, markets, government involvement, and audience interest. This book brings together scholars of TV formats from around the world to analyze and discuss those changes and offer an up-to-the-minute analysis of the current state of TV formats and their use and adaptation worldwide.
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.
Tracing the history of television as a therapeutic device, Joy V. Fuqua describes how TVs came to make hospitals seem more like home and, later, "medicalized" the modern home. She examines the introduction of television into the private hospital room in the late 1940s and 1950s and then moves forward several decades to consider the direct-to-consumer prescription drug commercials legalized in 1997. Fuqua explains how, as hospital administrators and designers sought ways of making the hospital a more inviting, personalized space, TV sets came to figure in the architecture and layout of health care facilities. Television manufacturers seized on the idea of therapeutic TV, specifying in their promotional materials how TVs should be used in the hospital and positioned in relation to the viewer. With the debut of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising in the late 1990s, television assumed a much larger role in the medical marketplace. Taking a case-study approach, Fuqua uses her analysis of an ad campaign promoting Pfizer's Viagra to illustrate how television, and later the Internet, turned the modern home into a clearinghouse for medical information, redefined and redistributed medical expertise and authority, and, in the process, created the contemporary consumer-patient.
Winner of the 2017 Outstanding Book Award from the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association
Nearly as soon as television began to enter American homes in the late 1940s, social activists recognized that it was a powerful tool for shaping the nation’s views. By targeting broadcast regulations and laws, both liberal and conservative activist groups have sought to influence what America sees on the small screen. Public Interests describes the impressive battles that these media activists fought and charts how they tried to change the face of American television.
Allison Perlman looks behind the scenes to track the strategies employed by several key groups of media reformers, from civil rights organizations like the NAACP to conservative groups like the Parents Television Council. While some of these campaigns were designed to improve the representation of certain marginalized groups in television programming, as Perlman reveals, they all strove for more systemic reforms, from early efforts to create educational channels to more recent attempts to preserve a space for Spanish-language broadcasting.
Public Interests fills in a key piece of the history of American social reform movements, revealing pressure groups’ deep investments in influencing both television programming and broadcasting policy. Vividly illustrating the resilience, flexibility, and diversity of media activist campaigns from the 1950s onward, the book offers valuable lessons that can be applied to current battles over the airwaves.
In the 1990s, American televison audiences witnessed an unprecedented rise in programming devoted explicitly to women. Cable networks such as Oxygen Media, Women's Entertainment Network, and Lifetime targeted a female audience, and prime-time dramatic series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judging Amy, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, and Ally McBeal empowered heroines, single career women, and professionals struggling with family commitments and occupational demands. After establishing this phenomenon's significance, Amanda D. Lotz explores the audience profile, the types of narrative and characters that recur, and changes to the industry landscape in the wake of media consolidation and a profusion of channels.
Employing a cultural studies framework, Lotz examines whether the multiplicity of female-centric networks and narratives renders certain gender stereotypes uninhabitable, and how new dramatic portrayals of women have redefined narrative conventions. Redesigning Women also reveals how these changes led to narrowcasting, or the targeting of a niche segment of the overall audience, and the ways in which the new, sophisticated portrayals of women inspire sympathetic identification while also commodifying viewers into a marketable demographic for advertisers.
In Refiguring Spain, Marsha Kinder has gathered a collection of new essays that explore the central role played by film, television, newspapers, and art museums in redefining Spain’s national/cultural identity and its position in the world economy during the post-Franco era. By emphasizing issues of historical recuperation, gender and sexuality, and the marketing of Spain’s peaceful political transformation, the contributors demonstrate that Spanish cinema and other forms of Spanish media culture created new national stereotypes and strengthened the nation’s place in the global market and on the global stage. These essays consider a diverse array of texts, ranging from recent films by Almodóvar, Saura, Erice, Miró, Bigas Luna, Gutiérrez Aragón, and Eloy de la Iglesia to media coverage of the 1993 elections. Francoist cinema and other popular media are examined in light of strategies used to redefine Spain’s cultural identity. The importance of the documentary, the appropriation of Hollywood film, and the significance of gender and sexuality in Spanish cinema are also discussed, as is the discourse of the Spanish media star—whether involving film celebrities like Rita Hayworth and Antonio Banderas or historical figures such as Cervantes. The volume concludes with an investigation of larger issues of government policy in relation to film and media, including a discussion of the financing of Spanish cinema and an exploration of the political dynamics of regional television and art museums. Drawing on a wide range of critical discourses, including feminist, postcolonial, and queer theory, political economy, cultural history, and museum studies, Refiguring Spain is the first comprehensive anthology on Spanish cinema in the English language.
Contributors. Peter Besas, Marvin D’Lugo, Selma Reuben Holo, Dona M. Kercher, Marsha Kinder, Jaume Martí-Olivella, Richard Maxwell, Hilary L. Neroni, Paul Julian Smith, Roland B. Tolentino, Stephen Tropiano, Kathleen M. Vernon, Iñaki Zabaleta
The Brazilian television industry is one of the most productive and commercially successful in the world. At the forefront of this industry is TV Globo and its production of standardized telenovelas, which millions of Brazilians and viewers from over 130 countries watch nightly. Eli Lee Carter examines the field of television production by focusing on the work of one of Brazil’s greatest living directors, Luiz Fernando Carvalho. Through an emphasis on Carvalho’s thirty-plus year career working for TV Globo, his unique mode of production, and his development of a singular aesthetic as a reaction to the dominant telenovela genre, Carter sheds new light on Brazilian television’s history, its current state, and where it is going—as new legislation and technology push it increasingly toward a post-network era.
The history of cable television in America is far older than networks like MTV, ESPN, and HBO, which are so familiar to us today. Tracing the origins of cable TV back to the late 1940s, media scholar John McMurria also locates the roots of many current debates about premium television, cultural elitism, minority programming, content restriction, and corporate ownership.
Republic on the Wire takes us back to the pivotal years in which media regulators and members of the viewing public presciently weighed the potential benefits and risks of a two-tiered television system, split between free broadcasts and pay cable service. Digging into rare archives, McMurria reconstructs the arguments of policymakers, whose often sincere advocacy for the public benefits of cable television were fueled by cultural elitism and the priority to maintain order during a period of urban Black rebellions. He also tells the story of the people of color, rural residents, women’s groups, veterans, seniors, and low-income viewers who challenged this reasoning and demanded an equal say over the future of television.
By excavating this early cable history, and placing equality at the center of our understanding of media democracy, Republic on the Wire is a real eye-opener as it develops a new methodology for studying media policy in the past and present.
After a decadelong hiatus, African Americans once again began appearing regularly on television in the 1960s. Bill Cosby costarred on I Spy, Sammy Davis Jr. briefly hosted a variety show, and in 1968 Diahann Carroll debuted in the title role of Julia, the first television series to star an African American since the cancellation of Amos ’n’ Andy. Over the next ten years, shows with African American casts became more common; some, like Sanford and Son and Good Times, were hits with both black and white audiences. Yet many within the black community criticize these programs as perpetuating demeaning stereotypes and hampering the political progress made by African Americans.
In Revolution Televised, Christine Acham offers a more complex reading of this period in African American television history, finding within these programs opposition to dominant white constructions of African American identity. She explores the intersection of popular television and race as witnessed from the documentary coverage of the civil rights and Black Power movements, the personal politics of Flip Wilson and Soul Train’s Don Cornelius, and the ways in which notorious X-rated comic Redd Foxx reinvented himself for prime time.
Reflecting on both the potential of television to effect social change as well as its limitations, Acham concludes with analyses of Richard Pryor’s politically charged and short-lived sketch comedy show and the success of outspoken comic Chris Rock. Revolution Televised deftly illustrates how black television artists operated within the constraints of the television industry to resist and ultimately shape the mass media’s portrayal of African American life.
Christine Acham is assistant professor in African American and African studies at the University of California, Davis.
In Screening Culture, Viewing Politics Purnima Mankekar presents a cutting-edge ethnography of television-viewing in India. With a focus on the responses of upwardly-mobile, yet lower-to-middle class urban women to state-sponsored entertainment serials, Mankekar demonstrates how television in India has profoundly shaped women’s place in the family, community, and nation, and the crucial role it has played in the realignment of class, caste, consumption, religion, and politics. Mankekar examines both “entertainment” narratives and advertisements designed to convey particular ideas about the nation. Organizing her study around the recurring themes in these shows—Indian womanhood, family, community, constructions of historical memory, development, integration, and sometimes violence—Mankekar dissects both the messages televised and her New Delhi subjects’ perceptions of and reactions to these messages. In the process, her ethnographic analysis reveals the texture of these women’s daily lives, social relationships, and everyday practices. Throughout her study, Mankekar remains attentive to the tumultuous historical and political context in the midst of which these programs’ integrationalist messages are transmitted, to the cultural diversity of the viewership, and to her own role as ethnographer. In an enlightening epilogue she describes the effect of satellite television and transnational programming to India in the 1990s. Through its ethnographic and theoretical richness, Screening Culture, Viewing Politics forces a reexamination of the relationship between mass media, social life, and identity and nation formation in non-Western contexts. As such, it represents a major contribution to a number of fields, including media and communication studies, feminist studies, anthropology, South Asian studies, and cultural studies.
Already in the late nineteenth century, electricians, physicists, and telegraph technicians dreamed of inventing televisual communication apparatuses that would “see” by electricity as a means of extending human perception. In Seeing by Electricity Doron Galili traces the early history of television, from fantastical image transmission devices initially imagined in the 1870s such as the Telectroscope, the Phantoscope, and the Distant Seer to the emergence of broadcast television in the 1930s. Galili examines how televisual technologies were understood in relation to film at different cultural moments—whether as a perfection of cinema, a threat to the Hollywood industry, or an alternative medium for avant-garde experimentation. Highlighting points of overlap and divergence in the histories of television and cinema, Galili demonstrates that the intermedial relationship between the two media did not start with their economic and institutional rivalry of the late 1940s but rather goes back to their very origins. In so doing, he brings film studies and television studies together in ways that advance contemporary debates in media theory.
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.
The Spectacle of Democracy was first published in 1994. 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.
In this age of increased global communication the media seem like juggernauts paving the way from dictatorship to democracy. Richard Maxwell's study of television in Spain overturns this myth of technological power. He shows us how transitions themselves have a profound impact on the media, as controllers of national television clash with commercial media promoters and with regionalists who want television to extend their nationalist politics and collective identity.
Maxwell's sophisticated analysis of the many variables shaping communication policy within the nation-state draws on a decade of research into Spanish culture, mass media, and political economy. Although focused on Spain, his work provides general insight into the nature of communication policy debates in today's globalized economy. A study of the transformation of television in Spain following the end of Franco's dictatorship, Maxwell's book examines the politics of the privatization of television, the rise of regional television, and the transnational realignment of national media space.
Richard Maxwell is assistant professor in the department of radio, television, and film in the School of Speech at Northwestern University.
How does a blatant lying in TV commercials—like Joe Isuzu's manic claims—create public trust in a product or a company? How does a company associated with a disaster, Exxon or Du Pont for example, restore its reputation? What is the real story behind the rendering of the now infamous Joe Camel? And what is the deeper meaning of living in an ad, ad, ad world? For a decade, journalist Leslie Savan has been exposing the techniques used by advertisers to push products and pump up corporate images. In the lively essays in this collection, Savan penetrates beneath the slick surfaces of specific ads and marketing campaigns to show how they reflect and shape consumer desires.
Savan's interviews with ad agencies and corporate clients—along with her insightful analyses of influential TV sports—reveal how successful advertising works. Ads do more than command attention. They are signposts to the political, cultural, and social trends that infiltrate the individual consumer's psyche. Think of the products associated with corporate mascots—the drum-beating bunny, the cereal-pushing tiger, the doughboy—that have become pop culture icons. Think cool. Think of the clothing manufacturer that uses multiracial imagery. Think progressive. Buy their worldview, buy their product. When virtually every product can be associate with some positive self-image, we are subtly refashioned into the advertiser's concept of a good citizen. Like it or not, we lead "the sponsored life."
During the worst years of apartheid, the most popular show on television in South Africa—among both Black and White South Africans—was The Cosby Show. Why did people living under a system built on the idea that Black people were inferior and threatening flock to a show that portrayed African Americans as comfortably mainstream? Starring Mandela and Cosby takes up this paradox, revealing the surprising impact of television on racial politics.
The South African government maintained a ban on television until 1976, and according to Ron Krabill, they were right to be wary of its potential power. The medium, he contends, created a shared space for communication in a deeply divided nation that seemed destined for civil war along racial lines. At a time when it was illegal to publish images of Nelson Mandela, Bill Cosby became the most recognizable Black man in the country, and, Krabill argues, his presence in the living rooms of white South Africans helped lay the groundwork for Mandela’s release and ascension to power.
Weaving together South Africa’s political history and a social history of television, Krabill challenges conventional understandings of globalization, offering up new insights into the relationship between politics and the media.
Media critics invariably disparage the quality of programming produced by the U.S. television industry. But why the industry produces what it does is a question largely unasked. It is this question, at the crux of American popular culture, that Switching Channels explores.
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
From the first notions of 'seeing by electricity' in 1878, through the period of the first demonstration of rudimentary television in 1926 and up to 1940, when war brought the advance of the technology to a temporary halt, the development of television gathered about it a tremendous history. Following the discovery of the photo-conductive effect, numerous schemes for television were suggested but it was in the wake of Baird's early demonstrations that real industrial interest developed and the pace of progress increased. Much research and development work was undertaken in the UK, the US, Germany and France. By 1936 television technology had advanced to the point where high definition broadcasting was realistic.
Portrayed in Western discourse as tribal and traditional, Afghans have in fact intensely debated women's rights, democracy, modernity, and Islam as part of their nation building in the post-9/11 era. Wazhmah Osman places television at the heart of these public and politically charged clashes while revealing how the medium also provides war-weary Afghans with a semblance of open discussion and healing. After four decades of gender and sectarian violence, she argues, the internationally funded media sector has the potential to bring about justice, national integration, and peace.
Fieldwork from across Afghanistan allowed Osman to record the voices of many Afghan media producers and people. Afghans offer their own seldom-heard views on the country's cultural progress and belief systems, their understandings of themselves, and the role of international interventions. Osman analyzes the impact of transnational media and foreign funding while keeping the focus on local cultural contestations, productions, and social movements. As a result, she redirects the global dialogue about Afghanistan to Afghans and challenges top-down narratives of humanitarian development.
The broadcasting industry’s trade association, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), sought to sanitize television content via its self-regulatory document, the Television Code. The Code covered everything from the stories, images, and sounds of TV programs (no profanity, illicit sex and drinking, negative portrayals of family life and law enforcement officials, or irreverence for God and religion) to the allowable number of commercial minutes per hour of programming. It mandated that broadcasters make time for religious programming and discouraged them from charging for it. And it called for tasteful and accurate coverage of news, public events, and controversial issues. Using archival documents from the Federal Communications Commission, NBC, the NAB, and a television reformer, Senator William Benton, this book explores the run-up to the adoption of the 1952 Television Code from the perspectives of the government, TV viewers, local broadcasters, national networks, and the industry’s trade association. Deborah L. Jaramillo analyzes the competing motives and agendas of each of these groups as she builds a convincing case that the NAB actually developed the Television Code to protect commercial television from reformers who wanted more educational programming, as well as from advocates of subscription television, an alternative distribution model to the commercial system. By agreeing to self-censor content that viewers, local stations, and politicians found objectionable, Jaramillo concludes, the NAB helped to ensure that commercial broadcast television would remain the dominant model for decades to come.
In less than a century, the flickering blue-gray light of the television screen has become a cultural icon. What do the images transmitted by that screen tell us about power, authority, gender stereotypes, and ideology in the United States? Television, History, and American Culture addresses this question by illuminating how television both reflects and influences American culture and identity. The essays collected here focus on women in front of, behind, and on the TV screen, as producers, viewers, and characters. Using feminist and historical criticism, the contributors investigate how television has shaped our understanding of gender, power, race, ethnicity, and sexuality from the 1950s to the present. The topics range from the role that women broadcasters played in radio and early television to the attempts of Desilu Productions to present acceptable images of Hispanic identity, from the impact of TV talk shows on public discourse and the politics of offering viewers positive images of fat women to the negotiation of civil rights, feminism, and abortion rights on news programs and shows such as I Spy and Peyton Place. Innovative and accessible, this book will appeal to those interested in women’s studies, American studies, and popular culture and the critical study of television.
Contributors. Julie D’Acci, Mary Desjardins, Jane Feuer, Mary Beth Haralovich, Michele Hilmes, Moya Luckett, Lauren Rabinovitz, Jane M. Shattuc, Mark Williams
Television existed for a long time before it became commonplace in American homes. Even as cars, jazz, film, and radio heralded the modern age, television haunted the modern imagination. During the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. television was a topic of conversation and speculation. Was it technically feasible? Could it be commercially viable? What would it look like? How might it serve the public interest? And what was its place in the modern future? These questions were not just asked by the American public, but also posed by the people intimately involved in television’s creation. Their answers may have been self-serving, but they were also statements of aspiration. Idealistic imaginations of the medium and its impact on social relations became a de facto plan for moving beyond film and radio into a new era.
In Television in the Age of Radio, Philip W. Sewell offers a unique account of how television came to be—not just from technical innovations or institutional struggles, but from cultural concerns that were central to the rise of industrial modernity. This book provides sustained investigations of the values of early television amateurs and enthusiasts, the fervors and worries about competing technologies, and the ambitions for programming that together helped mold the medium.
Sewell presents a major revision of the history of television, telling us about the nature of new media and how hopes for the future pull together diverse perspectives that shape technologies, industries, and audiences.
Television, Japan, and Globalization makes a monumental contribution to the literature of television studies, which has increasingly recognized its problematic focus on US and Western European media, and a compelling intervention in discussions of globalization, through its careful attention to contradictory and complex phenomena on Japanese TV. Case studies include talent and stars, romance, anime, telops, game and talk shows, and live-action nostalgia shows. The book also looks at Japanese television from a political and economic perspective, with attention to Sky TV, production trends, and Fuji TV as an architectural presence in Tokyo.
The combination of textual analysis, clear argument, and historical and economic context makes this book ideal for media studies audiences. Its most important contribution may be moving the study of Japanese popular culture beyond the tired truisms about postmodernism and opening up new lines of thinking about television and popular culture within and between nations.
The culture of television in Indonesia began with its establishment in 1962 as a public broadcasting service. From that time, through the deregulation of television broadcasting in 1990 and the establishment of commercial channels, television can be understood, Philip Kitley argues, as a part of the New Order's national culture project, designed to legitimate an idealized Indonesian national cultural identity. But Professor Kitley suggests that it also has become a site for the contestation of elements of the New Order's cultural policies. Based on his studies, he further speculates on the increasingly significant role that television is destined to play as a site of cultural and political struggle.
Caldwell, John T Rutgers University Press, 1995 Library of Congress PN1992.6.C22 1995 | Dewey Decimal 302.2345
“Holling is tormented by Koyaanisqatsi dreams until he goes out and does the wild thing with a young stag . . . . ”––Synopsis from production company “Bible,” Northern Exposure, March 30, 1992
The collision of auteurism and rap––couched by primetime producers in the Northern Exposure script––was actually rather commonplace by the early 1990s. Series, and even news broadcasts, regularly engineered their narratives around highly coded aesthetic and cultural fragments, with a kind of ensemble iconography. Televisuality interrogates the nature of such performances as an historical phenomenon, an aesthetic and industrial practice, and as a socially symbolic act. This book suggests that postmodernism does not fully explain television's stylistic exhibitionism and that a reexamination of “high theory” is in order. Caldwell’s unique approach successfully integrates production practice with theory in a way that will enlighten both critical theory and cultural studies.
In 1991, French public television held an amateur screenwriting contest. When Sabine Chalvon-Demersay, a French sociologist, examined the roughly 1,000 entries, she had hoped to analyze their differences. What she found, however, surprised her. Although the entrants covered nearly every social demographic, their screenplays presented similar characters in similar situations confronting similar problems.
The time of crisis presented by the amateur writers was not one of war, famine, or disease—it was the millennial dilemma of representation. In a world plagued by alienation, individualization, and a lack of mobility, how can members of a society combat their declining senses of self?
Although the contestants wrote about life in France, their concerns and struggles have a distinctly universal ring. A lucid, witty writer, Chalvon-Demersay offers a clear, if still developing, photograph of the contemporary imagination.
Original essays exploring important developments in radio and television broadcasting
The essays included in this collection represent some of the best cultural and historical research on broadcasting in the U. S. today. Each one concentrates on a particular event in broadcast history—beginning with Marconi’s introduction of wireless technology in 1899.
Michael Brown examines newspaper reporting in America of Marconi's belief in Martians, stories that effectively rendered Marconi inconsequential to the further development of radio. The widespread installation of radios in automobiles in the 1950s, Matthew Killmeier argues, paralleled the development of television and ubiquitous middle-class suburbia in America. Heather Hundley analyzes depictions of male and female promiscuity as presented in the sitcom Cheers at a time concurrent with media coverage of the AIDS crisis. Fritz Messere examines the Federal Radio Act of 1927 and the clash of competing ideas about what role radio should play in American life. Chad Dell recounts the high-brow programming strategy NBC adopted in 1945 to distinguish itself from other networks. And George Plasketes studies the critical reactions to Cop Rock, an ill-fated combination of police drama and musical, as an example of society's resistance to genre-mixing or departures from formulaic programming.
The result is a collection that represents some of the most recent and innovative scholarship, cultural and historical, on the intersections of broadcasting and American cultural, political, and economic life.
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.
During the 1980s, U.S. television experienced a reinvigoration of the family sitcom genre. In TV Family Values, Alice Leppert focuses on the impact the decade's television shows had on middle class family structure. These sitcoms sought to appeal to upwardly mobile “career women” and were often structured around non-nuclear families and the reorganization of housework. Drawing on Foucauldian and feminist theories, Leppert examines the nature of sitcoms such as Full House, Family Ties, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, and Who's the Boss? against the backdrop of a time period generally remembered as socially conservative and obsessed with traditional family values.
Gordon Castelnero University of Michigan Press, 2006 Library of Congress PN1992.3.U5C298 2006 | Dewey Decimal 384.550977434
An in-depth and personal look at the most popular and best-remembered local shows from the golden years of Detroit TV
Long before cable, prepackaged syndication, infomercials, do-it-yourselfers, and reality shows cluttered the television dial, there was a brand of entertainment that has today nearly vanished from the airwaves: local TV. And with its colorful and quirky cast of characters, Detroit TV arguably offered some of the best of the best of local programming anywhere in the nation-a smorgasbord of exuberant, one-of-a-kind television shows.
Based on actual interviews with the people who made Detroit TV, Gordon Castelnero's TV Land-Detroit awakens the emotional attachment and nostalgia our community has for these shows, bringing the beloved characters and memorable programs back to life.
From the glamorous Rita Bell to the insanity of the Ghoul, the zany Jingles in Boofland to the opinionated and often confrontational Lou Gordon and the gruff-voiced and somnolent George Pierrot, Castelnero reacquaints us with the talent and behind-the-scenes people, of the creative spirit in Detroit, and the intimacy they shared with the community both on and off the air.
Gordon Castelnero was a producer at WNIC radio for four years. He produced the acclaimed documentaries for WDIV and WTVS, Michigan, It Started Here! Michigan and the American Dream, and Titanic: The Final Chapter. He currently lives in Livonia, Michigan, and works at Technicolor in DVD and game media distribution. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com
Anikó Imre Duke University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PN1992.3.E8I47 2016
In TV Socialism, Anikó Imre provides an innovative history of television in socialist Europe during and after the Cold War. Rather than uniform propaganda programming, Imre finds rich evidence of hybrid aesthetic and economic practices, including frequent exchanges within the region and with Western media, a steady production of varied genre entertainment, elements of European public service broadcasting, and transcultural, multi-lingual reception practices. These televisual practices challenge conventional understandings of culture under socialism, divisions between East and West, and the divide between socialism and postsocialism. Taking a broad regional perspective encompassing Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Imre foregrounds continuities between socialist television and the region’s shared imperial histories, including the programming trends, distribution patterns, and reception practices that extended into postsocialism. Television, she argues, is key to understanding European socialist cultures and to making sense of developments after the end of the Cold War and the enduring global legacy of socialism.
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.
Providing video companionship for isolated housewives, afternoon babysitting for children, and nonstop evening entertainment for the whole family, television revolutionized American society in the post–World War II years. Helping the first TV generation make sense of the new medium was the mission of Jack Gould, television critic of The New York Times from 1947 to 1972. In columns noteworthy for crisp writing, pointed insights, and fair judgment, he highlighted both the untapped possibilities and the imminent perils of television, becoming "the conscience of the industry" for many people. In this book, historian Lewis L. Gould, Jack Gould’s son, collects over seventy of his father’s best columns. Grouped topically, they cover a wide range of issues, including the Golden Age of television drama, McCarthy-era blacklisting, the rise and fall of Edward R. Murrow, quiz show scandals, children’s programming, and the impact of television on American life and of television criticism on the medium itself. Lewis Gould also supplies a brief biography of his father that assesses his influence on the evolution of television, as well as prefaces to each section.
Television scholarship has substantially ignored programming aimed at Black audiences despite a few sweeping histories and critiques. In this volume, the first of its kind, contributors examine the televisual diversity, complexity, and cultural imperatives manifest in programming directed at a Black and marginalized audience.
Watching While Black considers its subject from an entirely new angle in an attempt to understand the lives, motivations, distinctions, kindred lines, and individuality of various Black groups and suggest what television might be like if such diversity permeated beyond specialized enclaves. It looks at the macro structures of ownership, producing, casting, and advertising that all inform production, and then delves into television programming crafted to appeal to black audiences—historic and contemporary, domestic and worldwide.
Chapters rethink such historically significant programs as Roots and Black Journal, such seemingly innocuous programs as Fat Albert and bro’Town, and such contemporary and culturally complicated programs as Noah’s Arc, Treme, and The Boondocks. The book makes a case for the centrality of these programs while always recognizing the racial dynamics that continue to shape Black representation on the small screen. Painting a decidedly introspective portrait across forty years of Black television, Watching While Black sheds much-needed light on under-examined demographics, broadens common audience considerations, and gives deference to the the preferences of audiences and producers of Black-targeted programming.
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.
This collection looks at the post–network television industry’s heady experiments with new forms of interactive storytelling—or wired TV—that took place from 2005 to 2010 as the networks responded to the introduction of broadband into the majority of homes and the proliferation of popular, participatory Web 2.0 companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Contributors address a wide range of issues, from the networks’ sporadic efforts to engage fans using transmedia storytelling to the production inefficiencies that continue to dog network television to the impact of multimedia convergence and multinational, corporate conglomeration on entrepreneurial creativity. With essays from such top scholars as Henry Jenkins, John T. Caldwell, and Jonathan Gray and from new and exciting voices emerging in this field, Wired TV elucidates the myriad new digital threats and the equal number of digital opportunities that have become part and parcel of today’s post-network era. Readers will quickly recognize the familiar television franchises on which the contributors focus— including Lost, The Office, Entourage, Battlestar Gallactica, The L Word, and Heroes—in order to reveal their impact on an industry in transition.
While it is not easy for vast bureaucracies to change course, executives from key network divisions engaged in an unprecedented period of innovation and collaboration with four important groups: members of the Hollywood creative community who wanted to expand television’s storytelling worlds and marketing capabilities by incorporating social media; members of the Silicon Valley tech community who were keen to rethink television distribution for the digital era; members of the Madison Avenue advertising community who were eager to rethink ad-supported content; and fans who were enthusiastic and willing to use social media story extensions to proselytize on behalf of a favorite network series.
In the aftermath of the lengthy Writers Guild of America strike of 2007/2008, the networks clamped down on such collaborations and began to reclaim control over their operations, locking themselves back into an aging system of interconnected bureaucracies, entrenched hierarchies, and traditional partners from the past. What’s next for the future of the television industry? Stay tuned—or at least online.
Contributors: Vincent Brook, Will Brooker, John T. Caldwell, M. J. Clarke, Jonathan Gray, Henry Jenkins, Derek Johnson, Robert V. Kozinets, Denise Mann, Katynka Z. Martínez, and Julie Levin Russo
The Writers is the only comprehensive qualitative analysis of the history of writers and writing in the film, television, and streaming media industries in America. Featuring in-depth interviews with over fifty writers—including Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, and Frank Pierson—The Writers delivers a compelling, behind-the-scenes look at the role and rights of writers in Hollywood and New York over the past century.