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Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore beyond John Waters and The Wire

Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore beyond John Waters and The Wire

by Mary Rizzo


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Baltimore seen through the eyes of John Waters, Anne Tyler, Charles S. Dutton, Barry Levinson, David Simon—and also ordinary citizens.

The city of Baltimore features prominently in an extraordinary number of films, television shows, novels, plays, poems, and songs. Whether it's the small-town eccentricity of Charm City (think duckpin bowling and marble-stooped row houses) or the gang violence of "Bodymore, Murdaland," Baltimore has figured prominently in popular culture about cities since the 1950s.

In Come and Be Shocked, Mary Rizzo examines the cultural history and racial politics of these contrasting images of the city. From the 1950s, a period of urban crisis and urban renewal, to the early twenty-first century, Rizzo looks at how artists created powerful images of Baltimore. How, Rizzo asks, do the imaginary cities created by artists affect the real cities that we live in? How does public policy (intentionally or not) shape the kinds of cultural representations that artists create? And why has the relationship between artists and Baltimore city officials been so fraught, resulting in public battles over film permits and censorship?

To answer these questions, Rizzo explores the rise of tourism, urban branding, and citizen activism. She considers artists working in the margins, from the East Baltimore poets writing in Chicory, a community magazine funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity, to a young John Waters, who shot his early low-budget movies on the streets, guerrilla-style. She also investigates more mainstream art, from the teen dance sensation The Buddy Deane Show to the comedy-drama Roc to the crime show The Wire, from Anne Tyler's award-winning book The Accidental Tourist to Barry Levinson's movie classic Diner.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421437910
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,138,778
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mary Rizzo is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University–Newark. She is the author of Class Acts: Young Men and the Rise of Lifestyle.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction. Cities as Narratives
Part I. Renewal and Resistance
Chapter 1. The City of Anger: Blockbusting and Cultural Representations of White Innocence
Chapter 2. From Blight to Filth: John Waters in the Age of Urban Renewal
Chapter 3. "The Most Authentic Microphone of Black Folks Talking Ever Devised": Chicory and the Poetry of Human Renewal
Chapter 4. Hollywood East: William Donald Schaefer Animates Neoliberal Baltimore
Part II. Good Mo(u)rning, Baltimore
Chapter 5. Accidental Tourists: Alienated Whiteness amid Renaissance
Chapter 6. A People's History of West Baltimore: Roc, The Wire, and Baltimore on TV
Chapter 7. Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!: Race, Gender, and Urban Branding at the End of the Century

What People are Saying About This

Antero Pietila

"Move over, Mencken! Mary Rizzo examines popular culture to interpret today's Baltimore, a city where politicians' promises have little effect on persistent segregation and inequality. This is a different take on Baltimore, not an exercise in nostalgia."

Randy J. Ontiveros

"An ambitious, original, and engaging book. Full of fascinating material, Come and Be Shocked breaks new ground in the study of Baltimore and of the economics and politics of culture."

Emily Lieb

"Tackling a fascinating topic, Come and Be Shocked raises important points about the cultural lives of cities that I had not previously thought much about. A clear, insightful, and important book. Mary Rizzo's writing is punchy and crisp."

Benjamin Looker

"Come and Be Shocked is a tremendous achievement—a true pace-setter for how studies of urban culture and representation ought to be done. Surveying a startling diversity of cultural texts and genres, Rizzo conjures up brilliant insights on how Baltimore narratives and iconography both reflected and intervened in the social processes reshaping the city's postwar fabric."

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