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Boxed In: The Culture of TV Paperback – December 1, 1988

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Product Details

  • Series: Culture of TV
  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810107929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810107922
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In these provocative essays, Miller, associate professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University, brilliantly employs the techniques of New Criticism to "read" TV commercials, game shows and the news, in order to expose television's pernicious effect on American life and culture. Miller persuasively argues that TV advertising sponsors seek to reduce viewers to a state of semi-hypnotized consumerism, and that qualities that might threaten this condition, such as individuality and critical awareness, are discouraged by everything on the tube. For example, Miller not only describes with devastating wit the game show Family Feud 's, stupidities and its host Richard Dawson's "oleaginous noblesse oblige," he also proves that by rewarding contestants for giving the most common answer of 100 people surveyed, the show celebrates not family identity but the sameness of consumer households that advertising has helped to create. Even the news is governed by a desire to sell the viewer. The author's analysis of the 1984 Democratic primary news coverage demonstrates that TV journalists strive not to "inform the public," but "to tell the public what the newsmen think the public is already thinking." A handful of essays on rock music and film, while interesting, seem out of place in this collection devoted primarily to TV, and occasionally Miller's acerbic blows are below the belt. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

These two books of media criticism could hardly be less alike. Kitman has been writing TV criticism for 17 years, currently for Long Island's (N.Y.) Newsday . As his title suggests, his comments on the TV scene are played mostly for laughscheap ones at thatand he usually gets them. He is serious, however, when discussing drug use among celebrities, such as John Belushi and Stacy Keach. In all, he covers a lot of territory in mostly brief, rather disjointed and haphazardly arranged pieces. Like TV itself, this is lightweight entertainment. Miller, on the other hand, is a heavyweight. In his thought-provoking essays on the media, he has written a powerful indictment of televisionits all-pervasive hold on our society, its relentless sales pitch, and trivialization of important issues. Included are Freudian analyses of two advertisements, as well as the game show Family Feud ; an analysis of the fatherly images of both Bill Cosby and Ronald Reagan; and comments on the dehumanizing effects of news coverage. Miller also includes essays on rock music and cinema. One of the cinema pieces is particularly dated in that it reviews several Hollywood biographies, including Mommie Dearest and Lauran Bacall By Myself . Miller (Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins), has written a book appropriate for college media courses. It's pricey for public libraries. Marcia L. Perry, Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield, Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Mark Crispin Miller is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of several books, including 'Boxed In: The Culture of TV;' 'The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder;' 'Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order' and 'Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform.' He is also the editor of 'Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.' His essays and articles have appeared in many journals, magazines and newspapers throughout the nation and the world, and he has given countless interviews worldwide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By weisner@splitpane.com on September 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
The first 8 or so essays in this book constitute some of the greatest writing on TV and advertising that I have ever run into. Analysis of texts is often so freaking esoteric and bookish that there's no point in reading it unless you want to impress an english undergrad at a department meeting. However, everyone who has any ability for introspection will benefit from the essays in this book, which use the tools of text analysis to help understand american culture and the motivations behind the culture creators. Other than incredible essays about advertisting and TV news, there are also some pretty decent essays about technology and movies and some pretty mediocre essays about music. Notwithstanding that, this book is required reading for all smart Americans, and you really won't be able to read advertising until you've read the opening essay, Hipness until Death, which becomes more and more applicable with each abstraction put out by Sprite or Arizona Jeans. Thank you Mark Crispin Miller!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lou Ford on November 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
In high school around 1985, I tried to argue with a Republican classmate that US bombers were targeting civilian neighborhoods in Libya. "No," he said, "You see, the A-rabs don't know any physics. They're firing antiaircraft missiles at ninety degrees, and their own bombs are falling back on them." The following year, when our government teacher announced that the Challenger had exploded, another classmate of mine said with a crooked smile and a faux-childlike tone, "Gee, Mr. Duffey, it's a good thing *you* weren't the teacher they chose to go into space!" I only began to understand these incidents--the naively credulous belief in government statements, the postemotional reaction to atrocities--when I read Mark Crispin Miller's essay on "The Hipness Unto Death." MCM exposes the vitiating effects of late Seventies and early Eighties media--the sadism of Jerry Lewis, the subtle thuggery of Bill Cosby, the crazed sensationalism of Dan Rather, the vacuity of Reagan's public face, and the ability of "Lettermanesque irony" to drain everything of meaning are among his themes. Miller is a dissident ironist, in the tradition of his sometime friend Christopher Hitchens and his avatars Michael Berube and Thomas Frank, but he is also a prophet: no one familiar with Boxed In was surprised when audiences began to treat the characters on Seinfeld as role-models, when Sam Donaldson became a Republican spokesman, or when Bill Maher smiled while pantomiming the attack on the World Trade Center. Fans should look at Miller's other books and his articles in The Nation, Extra!, and CONTEXT magazines.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Boxed In" is a collection of essays on TV, Elvis, movies and the future. Miller's piercing critical analysis of the world of pop culture is no dry thesis. It contains hilariously colourful, laugh-out-loud, read-to-your-friends, genius (and often biting) observations of the media and the world we live in. There is a cunning essay on the TV game show "Family Feud" as well as a very shrewd essay on the Jerry Lewis telethons that are especially clever and funny. A must read.
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