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
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.