on August 1, 2007
Dr. Michael R. Frontani's book: "The Beatles: Image and the Media" provides a brilliant insight into the Sixities co-energizing forces through which the Beatles shaped the American popular culture, and the way the latter transformed the Beatles into a universal phenomenon. In the best tradition of Erik Barnouw's "Tube of Plenty," Frontani brings to light the political context and the role the media played as they first challenged, and later celebrated, the revolutionary and creative soul of the Beatles. The book, furthermore, is not merely an historical account of the engagement between the Beatles and the American media, but also an inspiring demonstration of the creative power contained within the original tradition of the American intellectual life. Through their engagement with America's open-ended universe in which, as Emerson observed, "the only sin is limitation," the Beatles were transformed from a local European sensation into universal prophets of the new age. Frontani is correct in describing this engagement as "the Twentieth Century's Greatest Romance." The book is well researched, creatively written, and destined to become a milestone in the ongoing scholarship and inquiry into America's contemporary popular culture. The book's well painted picture of this unique and dynamic period should be of great interest to all serious scholars of music history, media studies, American popular culture, and for all serious students of the Beatles's music and creative imagination. In particular, Frontani's book must be essential to anyone who wishes to understand the political and social upheaval of the Sixties in America, the role the Beatles played in the anti-war movement, and the profound consequences which still shape our contemporary experience. Together with the poet we still hope for "Strawberry Fields Forever."
on September 3, 2007
This is an intriguing, stimulating, accessible, and lively text that follows the path of the Beatles in America and their evolving image, from lovable Liverpudlian, working class "moptops" to their ascendancy to the forefront of the youth countercultural movement. In the words of Frontani, this is a "thorough time capsule" that explores how the Beatles' image was carefully promoted by their manager Brian Epstein, and as the turbulent events of the `60s unfolded, how that initial image gave way to one more authentic, more in tune with the hopes, aspirations, and frustrations of the time, and one more consonant with the group members' self-perceptions and self-understandings. Anyone who has an appreciation for the Beatles will find much that is satisfying in this text. But just as the Beatles were so much more than the music (as great as that music is), so this book examines the various social and institutional forces that shaped our understanding of the Fab Four. Towards this end, Frontani introduces critical theories (the Frankfurt School, star theory, hegemony) that illuminate the contested social terrain where image is forged. As a book that follows the Beatles' journey through America, Frontani has much to say about American society and who we are as a culture and a people. This book, therefore, has appeal to readers interested not just in music, but also for those who appreciate history, culture, power, media, and politics. Still, the centerpiece of the book is the magic that was the Beatles. As Frontani writes, many artists have obtained great success in America, but "with the Beatles, there is something extra." It is this "extra" that Frontani skillfully explains.
on September 23, 2009
The Beatles came to the consciousness of United States teenagers, not through extensive touring, but through an image that was created, fostered and redefined by the media and the band. Michael R. Frontani's THE BEATLES: IMAGE AND THE MEDIA traces the arc of the Beatles career from the viral days of Beatlemania to their role as mature artists/cultural icons of the late 1960s. Along the way, Frontani gives us one of the must read books for understanding the Beatles lasting hold on our consciousness.