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Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (November 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742507785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742507784
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thanks to cultural studies, television was never more interesting. Here Gilligan's Island that most insipid of 1960s sitcoms is "a patriotic show, celebrating America and its democratic way of life," and The X-Files "reflects a growing cynicism in the American people about their government." Cantor, a contributor to the Weekly Standard, looks at how The Simpsons, Star Trek, Gilligan's Island and The X-Files reflect the impact of increasing globalization on U.S. culture. At his best (as when Cantor discusses the meaning of Shakespearean quotes in Star Trek), he resembles cultural studies guru Margery Garber (Academic Instincts), but too often Cantor's conservative political bent prevents him from accurately interpreting his material. After attacking what he sees as television's neglecting "the importance of the nuclear family," he praises The Simpsons as "the return of the nuclear family" that "celebrates the spirit of small time America" a curious assertion given that most of the show can, and usually is, read as the opposite. He is better with The X-Files, when he delineates how the show reflects the position of the nation-state at this historical moment. Cantor's traditionalist interpretation of U.S. history forces readers to question his judgments, as when he asserts (in a discussion of Gilligan's Island) that "issues such as civil rights and the counterculture created bitter divisions in American society" rather then the other way around. While Cantor's overriding theme provides a fascinating frame for discussions of popular culture, his examples fall short of his grand thesis.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Popular television shows are commonly a reflection of national principles. Shakespeare scholar Cantor (English, Univ. of Virginia) here analyzes four of the most famous prime-time series in the history of television with particular attention to how these shows portrayed American ideals and influences. Cantor shows us how the castaways of Gilligan's Island re-created America in their isolation and how Star Trek reflected Cold War fears and sensibilities. He also speculates about the post-Cold War, cynical, introspective Springfield of The Simpsons and how society's distrust of Washington is evident in the skepticism that characterizes The X-Files. Perhaps a little too cerebral for average TV viewers, this book is an upbeat if scholarly treatise on nationalism in popular culture. Recommended for academic media and communications collections. David M. Lisa, Wayne P.L., NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every fan of the Simpsons or X-files should own this book. Paul Cantor is a true genius and perhaps the best at placing American pop culture in the context of our literary, historical, and political tradition.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kjay2112 on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Issues such as civil rights and the counterculture created bitter divisions in American society" is a pretty odd sentence to disagree with. It's also a little difficult to disagree with the idea that the Simpsons is a modern nuclear family. Maybe the reviewer doesn't understand what the term 'nuclear family' means. Also,"Cantor's conservative bent prevents him from accurately interpreting his material" is just insulting. How about "The liberal bent of 'Publishers' Weekly' prevents them from accurately reviewing all but a small list of authors with whom they share a similar worldview." I think I'll buy this book based on the review! Thanks 'Publishers' Weekly!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adam Bahner on June 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Gilligan Unbound, Paul Cantor argues that the content of American popular culture tracks important changes in the national experience of globalization during and after the Cold War. He largely focuses on four American television franchises to make this case. These are Gilligan's Island (1964-67), Star Trek (1966-69), The Simpsons (1989-) and The X-Files (1993-2002).

Cantor makes a case that during the Cold War, Americans saw globalization in a global imaginary of democratization and Americanization. In essence, America bestowed an essential kernel of freedom and equality to the farthest reaches of the Earth. This is evident in Gilligan's Island in which an economically, occupationally, and gender-balanced group of Americans become stranded incommunicado on a pre-industrial island. They are able to reproduce the convenient trappings of contemporary American life. More important is that although the characters represent scientific expertise, cultured wealth with business acumen, and physical prowess, it is the unremarkable Gilligan whose actions and insights are consistently pivotal. For Cantor, Gilligan is the hero of a classless society. Despite being amidst specialized aptitudes, it is the agency of the common man that is liberated by American global expansion. For Cantor, Gilligan's Island suggests that not only is industrial abundance an outgrowth of American character but its dividends are an essential egalitarianism that underlies any conspicuous difference in station or status.

The island as a project of American expansion is complimented by the cavalier actions of Captain Kirk in Star Trek.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barty Simpson on October 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book, perhaps it is my love for the simpsons and gilligan's island that made me feel this way.

Now when i have heavy philosophical discussions with my friends, i won't feel so insecure when applying simpson's references to them...thanks
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