During the latter half of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, television talk shows, infotainment news, and screaming supermarket headlines became ubiquitous in America as the "tabloidization" of the nation's media took hold. In Tabloid Culture Kevin Glynn draws on diverse theoretical sources and an unprecedented range of electronic and print media in order to analyze important aspects and key debates that have emerged around this phenomenon.
Glynn begins by situating these media shifts within the context of Reaganism, which gave rise to distinctive ideological currents in society and led the socially and economically disenfranchised to access new forms of information via the exploding television industry. He then tackles specific daytime talk shows and tabloid newscasts such as Jerry Springer and A Current Affair, reality-TV programs such as Cops and America's Most Wanted, and two different supermarket tabloids' coverage of the O.J. Simpson case. Tabloid Culture is the first book to treat these diverse yet related media forms and events in tandem. Rejecting the elitist dismissal of sensationalist media, Glynn instead traces the cultural currents and countercurrents running through their forms and products. Locating both reactionary and oppositional meanings in these texts, he demonstrates how these particular media genres draw on and contribute to important cultural struggles over the meanings of race, sexuality, gender, class, "normality," "truth," and "reality." The study ends by discussing how the growing use of the Internet provides an entirely new realm in which such material can circulate, distort, inform, and flourish.
This innovative and provocative study of contemporary mainstream media culture in the United States will be valuable to those interested in both print and television media, the cultural-political influence of the Reagan era, and American culture in general.
Kevin Glynn is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
Acknowledgments Chapter 1: The Geneology of Tabloid Television Chapter 2: Cops, Courts, and Criminal Justice: Evidence of Postmodernity in Tabloid Culture Chapter 3: Bodies of Popular Knowledge: The High, The Low, and A Current Affair Chapter 4: Fantastic Populism: A Walk on the Wild Side of Tabloid Culture Chapter 5: Normalization and Its Discontents: The Conflictual Space of Daytime Talk Shows Chapter 6: Conclusion: Cultural Struggle, The New News, and the Politics of Popularity in the Age of Jesse "The Body" Vent Appendix; TVQ Scores for Tabloid Programs by Demographic Audience Category