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Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture Hardcover – February 4, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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"Popular culture is a growing area of interest, especially given its status as a major U.S. export in this rapidly globalizing world. Homer Simpson Marches on Washington is a useful and interesting work."―Margaret Ferguson, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis"

"Homer Simpson Marches on Washington is essential reading for anyone who believes that mass media can be effective in exposing the oppressive powers the be and inspiring people to resist them."―catapult magazine"

"Both Homer Simpson Goes to Washington and Homer Simpson Marches on Washington look at popular culture as not simply entertainment of the masses. Instead, pop culture can emphasize contemporary societal norms, or introduce new ideas and social constructs....Pop culture reaches a national audience, and as such, is inspiring nationwide conversations about politics, race, marriage, religion, etc. If you want to learn more about the basis for these conversations, these two books are excellent resources."―Annette Aguayo, Voices From the Earth"―

From the Inside Flap

The Simpsons consistently questions what is culturally acceptable, going against the grain of popular culture by showcasing controversial issues like homosexuality, animal rights, the war on terror, and religion. This subtle form of political analysis is entertaining and great for television ratings, but it also can be an effective means of changing opinions and attitudes on a large scale. To consider another example, what does Star Trek teach viewers about feminist politics? Do comedy programs like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live advance democracy in ways the mainstream news media cannot? Can horror films contribute to a contemporary understanding of environmentalism?

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture explores how popular culture influences political agendas, frames audience perceptions, and changes values and ideals on both the individual and collective level. Editors Timothy M. Dale and Joseph J. Foy have assembled a top-notch team of scholars from the fields of political science, history, women's and minority studies, film and media studies, communication, music, and philosophy to investigate the full spectrum of popular culture in a democratic society.

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington examines television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files, All in the Family, The View, and The Colbert Report, as well as movies and popular music, demonstrating how covert political and social messages affect the cultural conversation in America. The contributing authors investigate a wide range of controversial topics, including gender, race, religion, class, the environment, and sexual orientation. Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, offers her own story in the book's foreword, describing the societal pressures of being the first female captain in the Star Trek franchise.

In today's fragmented society, audiences are met daily with thousands of messages competing for their attention. Homer Simpson Marches on Washington offers an entertaining and insightful look at how popular culture can break through the clutter and bring about profound changes.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (February 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813125804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813125800
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I love the "Homer" books for their diversity and ability to integrate so many topics! As social scientists, we need to understand how gender, religion, race, economics, mass media, pop culture and politics are all intertwined. Dale and Foy compile essays from experts of not only political science but English, history, American studies, communications, film and media studies, women's and gender studies and business. They then integrate familiar references to iconic classics like The Simpsons and Star Trek, while also appealing to the more individualistic stylings of Jericho and the hip hop of Dr Dre and Lil Wayne. Essays remain contemporary by including references to Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Very few books can cover the 1870 labor movement to Rosie O'Donnell's outspoken lifestyle choices, but this one does it well. There is something for everyone.
Foy states in the introduction that "pop culture becomes a medium for the expression of countervailing ideas in order to advance change and alter the public conversation." This book does just that. It helps promote discussions about the validity of public dissent displayed in pop culture, questions the role of 'legitimate' news sources, and provides new ways of thinking about democratic participation. "In political terms, popular culture is at its best when it provides not a chorus unanimously singing the praises of America and its values but lone voices raising the kinds of questions that must be asked if democracy is to continue to function."

Whether teaching political science, sociology, history, or anything in between, this reader is sure to keep this restless generation of high school and college students interested in learning! I can't wait to see what Homer will discover next!
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Format: Hardcover
[ This review originally appeared in
THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS - 30 March 2010 ]

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent Through American Popular Culture is a fine follow-up to the earlier volume 2008's Homer Simpson Goes to Washington. In the book's introduction, editor Joseph Foy, gets to the heart of the book's purpose:

In the premiere episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announces that the viewers of his show are "heroes" who know that "something must be done." He then pounds his fist on his C-shaped desk to inform them that they are doing something right now - they are "watching TV." His proclamation might be met with smirks, guffaws, and skepticism, but the authors of the chapters of this book lend credence to this tongue-in-cheek commentary. Although true activism requires mobilized engagement to inspire change, the empowerment of political dissent via mass media and popular culture reflected in these pages provide an argument that true public, democratic action is occurring through popular culture. We merely have to tune in to join the conversation (14).

The essays in this collection explore a diverse range of media from television (The Simpsons, of course, The Daily Show, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more), to music ("Protest Songs in Popular Music," Hip-Hop) to the movies (M. Night Shymalan's The Happening, and more). Although this is an excellent and engaging book, a few of the essays were difficult to read because I was unfamiliar with the TV show or film that they were examining.
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