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New York University Press
The Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture / Edition 1

The Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture / Edition 1

by Henry Jenkins
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Vaudevillians used the term "the wow climax" to refer to the emotional highpoint of their acts-a final moment of peak spectacle following a gradual building of the audience's emotions. Viewed by most critics as vulgar and sensationalistic, the vaudeville aesthetic was celebrated by other writers for its vitality, its liveliness, and its playfulness. The Wow Climax follows in the path of this more laudatory tradition, drawing out the range of emotions in popular culture and mapping what we might call an aesthetic of immediacy. It pulls together a range of spirited work from Henry Jenkins, one of our most astute media scholars, that spans different media (film, television, literature, comics, and games), genres (slapstick, melodrama, horror, exploitation cinema), and emotional reactions (shock, laughter, sentimentality). Whether highlighting the sentimentality at the heart of the Lassie franchise, examining the emotional experiences created by horror filmmakers like Wes Craven and David Cronenberg and avant garde artist Matthew Barney, or discussing the emerging aesthetics of video games, these essays get to the heart of what gives popular culture its emotional impact.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814742839
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 12/24/2006
Edition description: ANN
Pages: 285
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Henry Jenkins is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Wow!     1
The Lively Arts
Games, the New Lively Art     19
Monstrous Beauty and Mutant Aesthetics: Rethinking Matthew Barney's Relation to the Horror Genre     41
The Immediate Experience
Death-Defying Heroes     65
Never Trust a Snake: WWF Wrestling as Masculine Melodrama     75
Exploiting Feminism in Stephanie Rothman's Terminal Island     102
"You Don't Say That in English!": The Scandal of Lupe Velez     125
Welcome to the Playground
"Going Bonkers!": Children, Play, and Pee-Wee     159
"Complete Freedom of Movement": Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces     185
"Her Suffering Aristocratic Majesty": The Sentimental Value of Lassie     215
Notes     247
Index     273
About the Author     285

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Building on the tradition of social commentators such as Gilbert Seldes, Robert Warshow, and Susan Sontag, Henry Jenkins brings his outstanding insight and compassionate counsel to contemporary cultural phenomena. Here not only media, but affect, matters. A delightful and helpful collection on popular pleasures.”
-Janet Staiger,author of Media Reception Studies

“Offers a lively, diligently researched, and well-written account of one scholar's engagement with the emotional punch of media.”

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Wow Climax: Tracing the Emotional Impact of Popular Culture 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A series of collected essays on the subheading topic. As you might expect, Jenkins positions himself against the sacralization of reactions to culture; he¿s interested in ¿excessive¿ responses and art designed to elicit those responses. Unlike what the typical unthinking snob will say, popular culture has plenty of standards. The rules are just learned outside of school and are more often about evoking emotion rather than about the distanced evaluation preferred by high culture. ¿The ability to dismiss certain forms of art as inherently without value paves the way for regulatory policies; the ability to characterize certain media forms as `cultural pollution¿ also impacts how the general public perceives the people who consume such material; and the ability to foreclose certain works from artistic consideration narrows the ambitions and devalues the accomplishments of people who work in those media.¿ I was most interested in the chapter wrestling as masculine melodrama, allowing the expression of otherwise off-limits emotions; there are also discussions of videogames for girls and boys; Pee-Wee¿s Playhouse; Lassie; feminism and exploitation B-movies; the comic actress Lupe Velez; and avant-garde artist Matthew Barney and his relation to the horror genre.