Understanding Society, Culture, and Television

By Paul Monaco | Go to book overview

Preface

All books originate somewhere and at a specific time. This one had its genesis during an afternoon's conversation with my friend Marty Seligman at his home just west of Philadelphia several summers ago. It was then that I decided to write a basic, readable book about television to clarify the nature of the medium and its relationship to society and culture.

The deeper sources that brought me to write this book were convoluted. For two-and-a-half decades, I have been exploring how the media arts of film and television both resemble and are different from the traditional arts. At the heart of this matter is the nature of art itself and its development during the course of the twentieth century. In recent years, I have also become increasingly interested in claims about media "effects" upon society and culture. I have been astonished to discover that so much that is believed about these so-called effects is so poorly reasoned.

Since that summer day when Marty and I had our long conversation, bipartisan congressional support passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It mandates that V chips be installed in all new television sets sold in the United States so that certain programming can be blocked, and also requires a mandatory rating system for television programs. Underlying the Telecommunications Act are widespread myths about television, society, and culture that have been promoted for decades. While I see occasional glimpses of public and professional skepticism about these myths, they are nonethe-

-vii-

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Understanding Society, Culture, and Television
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1- Storytelling and Television 1
  • Note 13
  • 2- Television and the Aesthetics Of Power, Virtuosity, and Repetition 15
  • Notes 25
  • 3- Common Contemporary Themes 27
  • Notes 35
  • 4- Agendas, Politics, and Television 37
  • Notes 45
  • 5- Globalization and Television 47
  • Notes 56
  • 6- Wellsprings of Our Discontent With Television 59
  • Notes 72
  • 7- Television and Advertising 75
  • Notes 85
  • 8- Television and Government 87
  • Notes 97
  • 9- Art for Whose Sake? 99
  • Notes 111
  • 10- What Everyone Must Know About Television 113
  • Notes 124
  • Afterword 127
  • Note 128
  • Bibliography 129
  • Index 137
  • About the Author 143
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