Television Myth and the American Mind: Second Edition / Edition 2

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This book offers an interpretation of the myths that shape television images and reinforce this culture's dominant ideology. It provides histories of all television genres and connects developments within each genre to political, social, and cultural shifts in the larger society. This new Second Edition updates the previous edition's close textual analysis of representative series and serials to mid-1993, reflecting the significant changes that have occurred in both the business of television in the United States and in the larger society's dominant ideology. The Second Edition also reflects significant advances in critical theory related to the study of television that have occurred over the past decade, and it incorporates both the structuralist critical position (dominant in the first edition) and a post-structuralist position which moves away from a determinist textual analysis of ideology to a consideration of possible multiple decodings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275931575
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Edition description: 2nd ed
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

HAL HIMMELSTEIN is Professor of Television and Radio at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and Director of Research of the Center for the Study of World Television.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
1 Television Myth and the American Mind 1
Brave New World? 1
The Twilight of Reality/Fiction 2
The Dilemma of Human Agency 8
The Mythic Frame 10
2 The Biz: Caution! Mythmakers at Work 15
Art as "Cultural History"/Art as "Market" 15
The Myth of Eternal Progress and the Great American Dream 19
Business, Science, and Art - The Formula 40
3 Advertising: The Medium is the Mirage 49
Advertising's Role in Contemporary Culture 50
TV Ads: A Brief History of the Art 56
TV Ads as Myths 61
Kodak's "America": Images from the American Eden 68
Life under the Commercial Microscope 90
Television Commercials and the Contradictions of Everyday Life 94
Some Final Thoughts on Commercial Culture 104
4 TV Comedy and Contemporary Life: Mayfield, Mayberry, Minneapolis, and Manhattan 113
Structural and Institutional Characteristics of the Television Comedy Apparatus 115
The Suburban-Middle-Landscape Comedy 122
The Rural-Middle-Landscape Comedy 138
Urban Comedy - Eternal Progress 152
5 Television's Social Comedies 163
The Self-Reflexive Comedy-Drama: Television Topicality and the Class Struggle 163
The Satiric Comedy-Variety Series 186
6 Television Melodrama 197
The Hero as Cultural Symbol 198
The Structure of Television Melodrama 200
Television Melodrama and Contemporary Social Relations: A Historical View 205
Social Awareness in Daytime Soaps 238
Television Docudrama: Truth at What Price? 240
7 Television News and the Television Documentary 247
The Television-Newsgathering Apparatus 247
Television News and Myth 252
The Clash of Myths in Television News 264
The Talking Heads (Not the Rock Group) 268
Look What They've Done to the War, Ma 273
The Documentary: Control and Demystification 274
8 Live TV: Sport and the TV Event 287
Sport - The Mercenary Warrior Meets the Journalist-Publicity Agent 288
Sport and Ideology - Television Myth and the Olympic Games 297
The TV Event - Predictable and Uneventful 303
9 TV Religion and the TV Game Show: The Great American Dream in the Late Twentieth Century 311
The Gospel According to Jim Bakker et al. 313
The Gospel According to Chuck Barris 328
The Gospel According to the Bible Bowl 332
10 The TV Talk Show: Commodifying the Individual Psyche 337
Forms of Television Talk 341
The New Talk 355
11 Toward an Oppositional Television 369
What Is "Oppositional"? 370
Art, Ideology, and Technology 385
Cultivating the Critical Viewer 386
Selected Bibliography 391
Index 395
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