- Publisher: Unknown (1991)
- ASIN: B001NCG09O
- Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,206,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bad Or The Dumbing of America by Paul Fussell
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Top Customer Reviews
Many of Fussell's points are well taken and hard to argue with. The focus of modern "higher" education on athletics at the expense of academics; the silly pretensions of "gourmet" restaurants; the lack of intelligence displayed in blockbuster movies; the incoherent babble of much contemporary language...there is a lot to recommend here. The problem is, Fussell gets carried away and ends up undermining his own argument by equating BAD with whatever doesn't conform to his own tastes and idiosyncrasies. In the chapter on architecture, for example, he is contemptuous of almost anything built in the last fifty years without any real basis other than personal taste. Again, his often valid critique of modern language (e.g. euphemisms, corporate jargon and overly complex signs) ends up getting diluted by his picayune insistence on perfect grammar, even in poetry (I can agree that most of the poems he quotes are BAD, but to say that poetry must be grammatical is silly). Fussell's opinions on music border on the bizarre. Wagner, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, along with all reggae music are, we are informed, all BAD, while Beethoven and Brahms are dismissed as "B" composers.Read more ›
By cutting through our phony pomposity and inability to recognize quality, Fussell exposes our us as a nation of shallow, self-congratulating losers who believe that it is alright to delude ourselves into believing we are something we are not. Specifically, deep thinking, conscientious citizens.
To take something that is merely bad, and by promotion and hyperbole, convince the public that it is not bad, but good and even better than all the rest - we then achieve BAD. From movies to books to ideas to ostentatious restaurants and all the rest. Personally, I loved his skewering rant of the soapy Andrew Lloyd Webber, who, along with Mickey Mouse are my personal poster twins for the Dumbing of America. And if Fussell ridiculed the elections of Ronald Regan and George H. Bush, one can only wonder what the temperment of the book might be if it were being written today.
Since this book was published, much more BAD has crept into our lives. From overbearing and attention needing cell phone abusers to major market quick read newspapers that make USA Today seem almost journalstic, our addiction to BAD behavior and kitsch make us considerably more transparent than we were when the book was published in 1991.
I have enjoyed some of the reader comments in this section. Especially the comments from those who are offended by the fact that Fussell has challenged the ideas with which they have been branded. Their offense comes not at the fact that their institutions have been attacked, but that they have been duped into believing that these very institutions were necessary, important and relevent.Read more ›
Fussell doesn't mind the merely bad; what bothers him is that what passed for *good* culture in the USA, the ideal to be aspired to, is not the really good, but the BAD. For example, when you stop reading the tabloids and start reading the "Wall Street Journal", you are not moving from bad to good. You're just moving from the bad to the BAD: the Wall Street Journal *pretends* it will make you "educated" about the market, but in reality knows no more about what will happen next than the tabloids do. The real reason for buying the "Wall Street Journal"--like that of most BAD products--is to make the buyer *LOOK* intelligent, well-informed, "knowledgeable" about art, without actually *BEING* so.
Quite true; but Fussell overstates his case. His thesis is that the existence of BAD "proving" the cultural decline of America. Unproven, in my view; that BAD behavior and taste (as well as bad behavior) was always more popular than good behavior and taste was already well-known to Plato. But one can ignore the general the-country-is-going-down-the-tubes thesis, and instead enjoy Fussell's acid wit and amusing, if somewhat scary, examples.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had such high hopes for this book, considering we've become a society (country) where mediocrity has become not only the acceptable standard, but inclined to be praised. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Xman
Paul Fussell wrote one of the best books about World War I ever done (The Great War and Modern Memory), and a good book about the second war (Wartime), flavored by his experience... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Macintyre
The book seems to be in good condition, however while reading I discovered a whole page is missing. This suggests to me that it had been a publisher's rejected copy and therefore... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Iadora Kelley
Arrived in expected condition. It is as relevant and trenchant as it was 20 years ago. At $.01 you literally can't beat the price.Published 22 months ago by Uggamugga
This was my first introduction to Paul Fussell. I roared/snickered with laughter because he hit on all eight cylinders the prima donnas I was running into about my undergradiate... Read morePublished on April 24, 2014 by Son of Flintstone
One can't find this in any manual. This is the book for everybody struggling to understand the USA realities, both physical and psychic.Published on March 13, 2014 by Paul V. KATCHALOV
I agree with the idea of America being dumbed down. It's a serious situation and it's much worse now than when this book was written. Read morePublished on June 3, 2013 by S. MacGregor
Does Fussell make good points? Yes, many: About the evolution of education, about consumerism and so on. Is he funny? Yes, often.
But is his book actually any good? Read more