Synopses & Reviews
In an important book that sharply illuminates our obsessions with celebrity, gossip, scandal, and real-life melodrama, Neal Gabler shows us today's astonishing conversion of life itself into Entertainment--Life the Movie.
Revealing what now unites phenomena as diverse as modern art, President Clinton versus Kenneth Starr, the O. J. Simpson trial, the Unabomber murders, and Elizabeth Taylor's marriages, Gabler demonstrates how our hunger for entertainment and the massive exploitation of that hunger have combined to make everything from religion to politics to painting to the news into branches of show business; how Life the Movie has generated and popularized its own stars--the rich and famous; and how all of us are not only an audience for the life spectacular, but also performance artists acting out our own dramas within it.
Starting in nineteenth-century America with the theatrics of the popular stage and the sensations of the popular press, Gabler traces the phenomenal rise of Entertainment as it challenges high culture. He also shows how entertainment, most notably with the arrival of the movies, comes to dominate the national consciousness by introducing a new way of seeing, until it seems that every endeavor and idea must become part of the grand, ever-growing, ongoing Big Show or risk invisibility. How this came to pass and what it means for our culture and for our personal lives are explored in a book at once astute, witty, concerned, and a lively pleasure to read.
The conversion of life itself into an entertainment medium -- life the Movie is the subject of the new book by the author of Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity and An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, winner of the Los Angeles Tunes Book Prize for History.
Connecting subjects as diverse as modern art, Clinton vs. Kenneth Starr, O. J. Simpson, Martha Stewart, Court TV, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gabler makes his case for entertainment as one of the most powerful forces in 20th-century America. Tracing its rise, he shows how everything from religion to politics to painting has become a branch of show business; how the life movie has generated its own stars, called celebrities; and how all of us are now not only an audience for the life spectacular but also performance artists acting out our own lives within it.
A clarifying lens through which to examine our so often surreal -- perhaps post-real -- society.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 279-287) and index.
About the Author
Neal Gabler is the author of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, for which he won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History, and Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine. Mr. Gabler holds advanced degrees in film and American culture and has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Freedom Forum Fellowship. He was born in Chicago and lives with his wife and two daughters in Amagansett, New York.
Table of Contents
The republic of entertainment -- The two-dimensional society -- The secondary effect -- The human entertainment -- The mediated self.