- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (December 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1859734537
- ISBN-13: 978-1859734537
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 13.1 x 233.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,232,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Playboys in Paradise: Masculinity, Youth and Leisure-Style in Modern America
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This was a unique blend of history and cultural studies. For readers that look down on cultural studies as fluff, this book has much "concrete" information for them to appreciate.
I appreciated most that despite the all-encompassing title, the author both emphasizes that this was a middle-class white trend at the same time that he does write women and people of color into the picture. For instance, he mentions that Helen Gurlie Browne was the female Hugh Hefner; he adds that "Ebony" does much of what "Esquire" does. In discussing exotica, the author not only brings up the American fascination with Polynesia, but with Britain as well.
The author avoids viewing men as a monolithic category. He stresses that youth or the valorization of youth was employed as a tool to get grown men to spend.
The author is a British academic. It's funny to read a book about the United States with words like "programme," "colour," and "enrolment" in it. Further, I'm impressed that an academic outside the US had access to so much American material. An American who wrote a similar book on any other country couldn't have done so with out a sabbatical to that land.
This book may frustrate Marxists. The brief, somewhat flippant introduction tries to address this, but not really. Hearing about men spending money and buying butter (rather than guns) may make one think the author is celebrating this trend, rather than just reporting on it. Though this book is positive, rather than normative, some readers that resent American materialism may have difficulty processing through this book.
This book definitely sees heterosexuality and doesn't just take it as a privileged given. The author constantly has to mention that advertisers had to convince straight male shoppers that buying leisure items didn't make them gay. Still, homophobia is not cited enough here. The question of where this leaves gay male consumers is never even a thought here.
The author quotes so much from Ehrenstein and Chudacoff that it may feel difficult to point to what new territory he is covering.
This book will help readers to think deeply about modern magazines like "Maxim" or current catchwords like "metrosexual." I highly recommended it to anyone interested in men's studies, American history, and the marketplace.