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The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America Hardcover – July 6, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In this engaging and original study, Anna McCarthy examines the high civic hopes once held for U.S. commercial television by the liberal social, political, and business elites who made up the ‘governing classes.’” -Journal of American History

“McCarthy has written about an aspect of the ‘golden age of television’ seldom detailed in histories of early television. This is the story of how some of the largest American commercial corporations of the 1950s used the new medium of television not with the sole intent of advertising their products but to effect social reform on television viewers in order to create ‘good citizens.’ Highly recommended.”  -Choice --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Anna McCarthy is an associate professor in the department of Cinema Studies at New York University. She is the co-editor of the noted journal Social Text, as well as the author of Ambient Television.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; First Edition edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584984
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anna McCarthy is an associate professor in the department of Cinema Studies at New York University. She is the co-editor of the noted journal Social Text, as well as the author of Ambient Television.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Meg Sumner TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Everyone knows the television is going downhill fast, right? Surely we can look at this week's episode of Jersey Shore (please don't make me!) that set a record for MTV viewership and know that quality isn't exactly easily found in television programming today. So, should we get nostalgic and remember the old days of TV, where we imagine it was more beneficial and innocent back when the family crowded around the massive console?

Or, consider how worked-up parents get when their children's television show/babysitter is interrupted with commercials selling cheap toys and junk food. Haven't you heard many parents reminisce about a time when a television show was simple and enjoyable and didn't come with all sorts of corporate or merchandise tie-ins?

Wasn't it the Goo Goo Dolls who said, "Reruns all become our history." What if that history was wrong?

If I sound snarky, I am....this week I'm focusing on television. First, I got really rattled with the book Citizen Machine by Anna McCarthy (next week I'll post about The Mind Snatchers). I'd been led by tradition and assumption to believe that the early days of television were more noble and family-oriented. But this book relates that instead, it was simply a tool to manipulate viewers, much like a McDonald's commercial that interrupts The Penguins of Madagascar. In fact, the way television was used as a means of advertising was actually worse, in that the content was designed around a specific agenda without a clear delineation of where the show ended and the commercial began. In this case, it was government and corporate policies that were subconsciously projected into the mindset (and television set) of the viewer, clearly designed to manipulate their viewpoint on everything from civil rights to labor unions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
THE CITIZEN MACHINE: GOVERNING BY TELEVISION IN 1950S AMERICA offers a new history of the ideas that have shaped American television and its viewing, drawing important links between TV media and American citizenship. From the early influence of massive corporations on television content to how modern leaders affect TV sponsorship choices, this comes from a media historian who offers an eye-opening glimpse into the evolution of TV and American democracy.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald B on December 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Way too technical for me. I thought it would be more about 1950's programing than 1950's politics and science. I didn't even finish this book.
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