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Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide To Late Capitalist Television Paperback – April 16, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

What is it about our society which makes sociopaths, i.e., the kind of ruthless individuals who make their own rules, so appealing? With his usual acuity, Adam Kotsko gives an analysis of contemporary TV shows (South Park, Mad Men, The Wire, etc.) to make the case that depictions of social disconnection are especially seductive at a time when our own society has become ever more destructive and amoral. Kotsko provokes us in suggesting how we might combine and reshape several features of the television sociopath, so that we might break the hold of the societal norms prevalent in late capitalism. (Lars Iye, Author of the novel Spurious)

About the Author

Adam Kotsko is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Shimer College, Chicago. He is the author of Žižek and Theology (2008), Politics of Redemption (2010), and Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television (2012). He is the translator of Agamben’s The Sacrament of Language (2010), The Highest Poverty (2013), Opus Dei (2013), Pilate and Jesus (forthcoming) and The Use of Bodies (forthcoming). He blogs at An und für sich (itself.wordpress.com).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 107 pages
  • Publisher: Zero Books; Reprint edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178099091X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780990910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,018,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a quick, deft analysis of a persistent theme in current pop culture, and a compelling counter-intutive theological argument *for* sociopathy.

Kotsko's work here can be compared to Slovoj Zizek's, in that he's using the flotsam of mass culture to make serious a serious philosophical argument, and to make a strong critique of the ideology invisibly active in our world. Like Zizek, Kotsko is also interested in the redemptive core to be found in the perversion of perversions. Where Zizek's thought is often scattered and seemingly random, though, Kotsko is a lucid writer. His work could also be compared to Chuck Klosterman's. Fans of Klosterman should definitely read this book. But where Klosterman is a sloppy and haphazard thinker, often distracted by his own cleverness and the *pop* of pop culture, Kotsko has done the tough philosophical study to support his thinking, and demonstrates a depth and reach that has the potential to change the way readers look at the media they consume.

One major critique I have is that Kotsko claims the "sociopathy" he analyzes is the product of a specific historical moment, but does little to defend that claim. He uncritically adopts a very sweeping, very questionable narrative of recent American history. I suspect that one could find the same sociopathy that he sees in Mad Men and Dexter, for example, in the popular pulps of the 1920s, or the noir paperbacks of the '50s. Outlaws were mass media sensations in the second half of the 19th century. Penny dreadfuls were wildly popular throughout the Victorian era. And there are more than a few sociopaths in the classics of American literature, including in the works of Twain and Melville.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really disappointing. With such a great title and such a promising premise, the book began to disappoint after the first chapter. It would have been a great long article, but as a book the premise proves too threadbare for this author to sustain. It's redundant, repetitive, circuitous, and redundant! In media criticism the biggest sin is to be boring. This author has much to atone for.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable essay that examines the figure of the sociopath in contemporary TV. Kotsko shows how these characters allow us to fantasize about our social relationships. We enjoy the scheming and deceiving of these characters because we are unsatisfied with the structure of our late capitalist society, which puts undue pressure on the individual to succeed in impossible situations. I'm scheming a plot to give this to my conservative friends and family who like shows such as Mad Men, Dexter, and House.
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Format: Paperback
Kotsko's very sharp here. You needn't have seen the shows he discussed to chew on the food for thought he's provided. But if you've watched some subset of The Wire, Dexter, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, South Park, 24, Mad Men, and House you'll probably especially enjoy this work. Clocks in under 100 pages. Lots of good challenging thought for such a slim volume. Recommended! (You need not have read his previous book _Awkwardness_ but if you like this you'll like that too.)
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At 100 pages this easy and fast read covers a wide range of ideas, questions and criticisms of modern television, a second cousin to Postman's classic Amusing Ourselves to Death. While I'm a fan of the high quality of television we've seen in the last decade, perhaps the highest of all time, I'm often bothered by how horrible the lead characters are as people. The author runs through The Sopranos, The Simpsons, The Wire, Mad Men and even South Park, asking questions and framing observations about why we're drawn to these show's central characters.

I didn't agree with all of his analysis, but that's part of the fun. What do I believe? His take was consistently interesting enough to provoke me into deeper thought, a compliment for any book.

If you've never seen The Wire, House, The Simpsons, Dexter, Breaking Bad or the shows I've mentioned above, it'd be worth watching an episode to familiarize yourself with their man character and theme, as when he references shows I didn't know it was harder to follow.
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