scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question

Showing papers in "The Journal of American Culture in 2005"

Journal ArticleDOI

99 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Robb and Turley as discussed by the authors describe how the US Department of Defense shapes and censors the movies and present a series of examples of such censorship, such as the inclusion of Major Rudolf Anderson's downing and death during a U-2 surveillance flight during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Abstract: Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies David L. Robb. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2004. Decades ago, I submitted a manuscript to a publisher "whose editor explained to me the categories of the trade book. Adapting the word screamer used for sensational newspaper headlines, she said, "This book could be a real screamer-but you would have to take out the footnotes. The trade market doesn't have the patience for things that break the flow of exposition." David Robb's Operation Hollywood ranks as a full-throated, uncompromising screamer book sans footnotes: its forty-eight interview-based, anecdote-filled chapters angrily portray how the US Department of Defense works at scripting the portrayal of its component services. Robb calls it "censorship" and has enlisted Professor Jonathan Turley as public interest theorist to assist him in raising constitutional issues associated with the Pentagon's controls on collaboratively produced films, which are legion. (Turley has written the foreword, and his comments are inserted at several points in the book.) Despite the C-word's troublesome fit and the haze of vitriolic spray that Robb directs toward individual administrators in the Pentagon - he nominates several of them as "Best Villains" in his Academy Awards-inspired conclusion-the book does raise an important issue about Hollywood's subservience to the US military script requests. The reasons for Hollywood's trips to the Pentagon are obvious. For creating the surface looks and sounds of war, the US government's personnel, uniforms, expensive weapons, explosions, and technical advisers define the ultimate in authenticity. Cost savings are enormous as well. On the military side, there is an awareness that profit-oriented entertainments can valorize the services, helping them gam recruits and congressional support. Thanks to the tenacious digging of military historian Lawrence H. Suid, we have precise details for all services in Guts and Glory (1978/2002), and with stronger focus on the Navy in Sailing on the Silver Screen (1996). Robb does not reflect Suid's work, nor that of Koppes and Black's Hollywood Goes to War (1987) or Doherty's Projections of War (1993/1999), yet there is agreement that the US government relishes the control of its military image and enters into a mutually exploitative relationship with filmmakers. But what gets compromised when the military-entertainment complex shapes a fantasy product for the public? Anecdotes based on interviews are the principal contribution of this book. In his account of the DOD-assisted film Windtalkers (2002), Robb recounts the DOD's compulsion to change its script contrary to publicly recognized historical fact. For example, the understanding that the Windtalkers would be killed by the United States if captured could not be mentioned. second, Robb deals with films, such as Thirteen Days (2000), that seek cooperation without obtaining it. One sticking point there, according to Robb's allegation, was the inclusion of Major Rudolf Anderson's downing and death during a U-2 surveillance flight during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Anderson received the Air Force Cross as a posthumous citation, and despite being recognized by an elementary school named for him at Eielson AFB in Arkansas, including him in a film receiving DOD cooperation was unacceptable. (The question of evidence supporting this accusation will be dealt with later.) Thirteen Days thus had to be made m total independence. And to cap that rejection, its screening was forbidden at Ramstem Air Base in Germany, where Kevin Costner had offered a special showing (56-57). While it may be questionable to call such cases censorship, Robb offers enough interview and DOD memoranda examples of this kind to evidence a conception of historical truth shaped by advertising's convention of omitting facts adverse to the Pentagon's public relations goals. Assuming that these accounts of script rejection, script coercion, and factual eradication are largely authentic, Robb and Jonathan Turley do succeed in raising the issue of "favored speech based on content," which the Supreme Court held to be presumptively invalid in Turner Broadcast System, Inc. …

83 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: One year and one day after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a temporary moratorium on humor in the United States, as well as the jokes that did emerge, both in United States and outside, in the wake of 9/11, was discussed in this article.
Abstract: When I arrived in the United States on September 12, 2002, exactly one year and one day after the attack on the World Trade Center, to study American humor, many people told me that I had come too late. "September 11 was the death of comedy," people would tell me. "After 9/11, Americans have stopped laughing." Most Americans felt that after these events, humor and laughter had become inappropriate. A year later, the nation's sense of humor still had not recovered completely. Humor about 9/11, as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had become known, was considered offensive by most people. However, Americans still laugh after 9/11. They even laugh at the events of 9/11-albeit somewhat bitterly. The events of September 11 even gave an impetus to a new genre: cutand-paste Internet jokes that were shared and spread around the world through e-mail, newsgroups, and Web sites. This article looks at the way the events of 9/11 affected American humor. It discusses the temporary moratorium on humor in the United States, as well as the jokes that did emerge, both in the United States and outside, in the wake of 9/11. I will discern three different ways in which these events affected American humor: first, the suspension of humor; second, the call for humor as a means to cope with the events of 9/11; and finally, and most extensively, the jokes that did emerge about these events, notwithstanding the public discourse about the inappropriateness of such humor. The article will focus specifically on the new genre of Internet jokes about these events. I will argue that these jokes cannot be understood as a means of coping with grief and suffering. Rather, they are a comment on the serious and mournful tone of public discourse and media culture surrounding the events of 9/11, and a way for jokesters, for a variety of reasons, to separate themselves from that obligatory response. Humor and Disaster The attack on the World Trade Center is the typical event that gives rise to disaster jokes: highly covered by the media, much talked about, tragic but undeniably sensational. The explosion of space shuttle Challenger, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the death of Princess Diana are examples of other events that became the focus of disaster jokes.1 The first jokes about 9/11 emerged almost immediately after the attacks. Bill Ellis reports finding the earliest American jokes about the attacks on September 12 ("A Model"). I collected the first jokes on Dutch Web sites on September 13. The basis of humor always is some kind of humorous incongruity or "script incompatibility" (Attardo and Raskin 293). This incongruity can be between real and unreal (absurd humor), between taboo and nontaboo (sexual humor, toilet humor, aggressive humor), or between the gruesome and the innocent, the banal, or even the cheerful (sick humor). Although this incongruity can be exclusively linguistic, the easiest way of achieving such an incongruity is by some sort of transgression. Thus, inappropriate references to sexuality, hostility, and degradation are common ingredients of humor (Zillman 39-40). Disaster jokes are usually sick jokes, based on an incongruity between the gruesome and the innocuous. The basis mechanism of these jokes is a "humorous clash" (Kuipers 456): in the joke, the disaster is linked in a humorous way with a topic that is felt to be incompatible with such a serious event. This incompatibility can go two ways. In some cases, the joke combines the disaster with a reference to something shocking or taboo. In these cases, the humorous clash results from confronting the disaster with "forbidden" references popular in many jokes, such as sex, religion, aggression, or ethnicity. However, in most cases, disaster jokes focus on topics rather less common in jokes: innocent or innocuous themes like advertising, children's games, or fairy-tales. The effect of this mixture of an extremely serious topic "with such unsenous themes may cause outrage and amusement: disaster jokes, like other sick jokes, derive much of their appeal from their inappropriateness (Oring 276). …

77 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Chidester's Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture as discussed by the authors examines elements of religious belief and practice that have materialized in the popular culture of the last twenty or thirty years.
Abstract: Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture David Chidester. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Several years ago, I attended an American Academy of Religion annual conference held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. While on a break, I was walking along the boardwalk of one of the resort areas when a father and his small child approached a shaved ice concession stand. The father pointed to the "ices" on display and said "Are those faket" Ironically, the question was said with the same inflection, disbelief, and awe that one would intone when asking if something was real. However, in this inverted Disney "world" of inauthenticity, this man was questioning not reality, but the validity of the display's fakeness. I have often thought of that moment in my own research interests, where I am constantly plagued by questions and comments about what constitutes reality and the implied value judgments that are inherent in the distinction between authenticity and inauthenticity. So it was with great anticipation that I approached David Chidester's Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture. Chidester explores the issues of religion in a highly commercialized world in the midst of globalization by American corporations. The book examines elements of religious belief and practice that have materialized in the popular culture of the last twenty or thirty years. He examines dimensions and expressions of religious belief and practices m a wide variety of cultural institutions. Some of these institutions may not be surprising to readers, such as thinking of American baseball as religion or thinking of the potentially religious dimensions of the Coca-Cola or McDonald's corporations. Others are surprising and insightful, such as Chidester's argument that Ronald Reagan and Jim Jones in the 1980s were promoting a similar message of religious sacrifice. Chidester writes, "In the ideologies of Jim Jones and Ronald Reagan, sacrifice is that act that totalizes all the elements of a worldview into a meaningful and powerful whole" (103). At its heart, the book is making an argument for the religiosity of "The American Dream," how that myth is carried out and promoted, and how it sometimes fails as an aspect of a uniquely American religious system. Chidester's chapter headings point to the various ways in which he defines religion in American popular culture: Popular, Plastic, Embodied, Sacrificial, Monetary, Global, Transatlantic, Shamanic, and Virtual. Each of these terms in turn reflects how religion has found its way into the culture and reflects elements of the flexibility, globalization, and media expressions of religion in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Each of the headings also points to a culturally constructed understanding of religion. …

61 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism as mentioned in this paper provides a comprehensive introduction to postmodernism, and then relates post-modernism to modernity, stressing its significance and relevance to literature, film, law, architecture, philosophy, and religion.
Abstract: The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism Steven Connor, Editor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. After the millennium, "postmodern" popped up like wild spring flowers, and caught many of us by surprise. Had "modern times" really ended? If so, when and why? Was this a fad, a trend, or a movement? Would it infect and affect popular culture? Was it merely a new name for the electronic technology -or much more? The term "postmodern" is confusing and controversial. It was used as early as the 1870s by Britain's John Watkins Chapman, and later "first" claims move up through the 1960s. The choice depends on the different ideals and programs spotlighted. The Oxford English Dictionary gives a short, clear definition: "Subsequent to, or later than, what is modern?" This raises another question: What, then, is modern? Steven Connor's book sets out to answer these questions and offer us a comprehensive introduction to postmodernism, and then to relate post-modernism to modernity, stressing its significance and relevance to literature, film, law, architecture, philosophy, and religion. "Modernity" is often taken as the term referring to the social, economic, and scientific institutions flowering in the West during the eighteenth century (some place it earlier), and having worldwide influence in the twentieth. There is no general agreement about just what modern and postmodern mean. The names most frequently associated with postmodernism are Ihab Hasten, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Frederic Jameson, and Juergen Habermas. Clearly, the center of concern has been Europe, although there are a number of American disciples; most have been philosophers and literary critics. One area in which it has had limited impact, here or abroad, is popular culture. Some attention has been paid to the extension of postmodern ideas into fields of advertising, popular music, MTV, and architecture. How has all of this affected scholars who write about popular culture? What about textbooks? I asked some committed postmodern friends for definitions, finding that there are as many definitions as there are advocates. The ingredients seemed to fit the old cliche: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. If there is a common thought, it is this: We have moved beyond the old "modernity." Remember the McLuhan truism: If it works, it's obsolete. Postmodernists express a desperate need to meet the volatile and unstable elements of the new century head-on. …

59 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as discussed by the authors is one of the most popular news satire programs in the US and has been widely recognized as the most influential satire program in the last decade.
Abstract: "I don't know if you are practicing an old form of parody or a new form of journalism." -PBS's Bill Moyers, interviewing Jon Stewart "He says in public what a lot of us say privately in the newsroom." - Peter Jennings, former host of ABC World News Tonight "Usually we clearly don't give a shit and neither do the guests." -Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart1 There were approximately fifty million young Americans eligible to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Of these eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds, only twenty-three percent stated that they regularly learned something about the election from the nightly network news, down from thirty-nine percent in 2000 ("Cable and Internet Loom Large"). In contrast, twenty-one percent claimed to receive their regular campaign news from comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ("Cable and Internet Loom Large"). Presumably, they are among the one million-plus viewers who continue to tune in to the latter program each night.2 These figures tell us that one out of five young adults prefers to receive his or her news from self-described "fake news" than get their news from the news (more on this phrasing is discussed below). This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed, particularly since The Daily Show, currently the most prominent news parody, was awarded a Peabody for its coverage of the 2000 election, two Emmys for comedy writing, a Television Critics Association nomination (alongside Nightline and 60 Minutes) for outstanding achievement in news and information, and Newsweek crowned "fake host" Jon Stewart one of the twenty-five biggest influencers of the 2004 election. But over the roar of hype, criticism, and adulation, a fairly predictable question is being heard: Is The Daily Show news or isn't it? And while this question is a nod in the right direction, wading into the binary of "is it or isn't it" news is not the best way to obtain logical answers. Rather, if the news is how we construct our political reality-and that news tells us that "fake news" is now one of the most influential constructors of this reality-determining how this fake news is formally different from conventional news and ascertaining the precise nature of the relationship between the two will lead us to much more urgent and productive questions. In an effort to tackle these questions, this investigation of The Daily Show (TDS) proceeds through roughly five different stages, or critical frameworks. The analysis begins by demonstrating that TDS's parody can be formally understood as manipulating, and consequently laying bare, the gatekeeping processes of news organizations. Then, because TDS's methodology is to operate on materials that have already appeared on other programs and mediums, media scholars Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin's conception of remediation is brought in to better articulate the nuances of TDS's reappropriations. Aware of TDS's current influence and popularity as a news (or antinews) source, the examination turns to consider the limits that genre and parody place upon TDS's project and its critique of the news; similarly, this article considers how the "pseudo" Daniel Boorstin's notion of artificial news events -both emboldens and mutes TDS's critical voice. Finally, recognizing that the news's relationship to TDS is as important as the relationship running the other way, the discussion concludes with what is at stake-rhetorically, formally, and politically-in the news-TDS exchanges and offers some predictions for how these interactions will continue to evolve in the future. But before we begin, a terminological point about the object of analysis must be clarified. The word news can potentially carry significant rhetorical weight and therefore is rightly haggled over. But academic, journalistic, and everyday usage of the term news actually conflates two separate phenomena. …

58 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Fingeroth's work transcends the usual limitations of perspective that we find in such books because his life has encompassed all three roles. as discussed by the authors, as a longterm manager for the Spider-Man character and consultant to the 2002 blockbuster film, Fingeroth reports that he had firsthand knowledge of what those stories meant to readers of all ages who told us in no uncertain terms what they meant to them.
Abstract: Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society Danny Fingeroth. New York: Continuum/London, 2004. Books about superhero comics are typically written by fans, creators, or scholars. Danny Fingeroth's work transcends the usual limitations of perspective that we find in such books because his life has encompassed all three roles. He was an eager reader as a child; he worked editorially at Marvel Comics for a couple of decades; and he has now settled into a period that combines analytic writing, editing the WriteNow magazine, and teaching at New York University. Participating in one of PCA/ACA's finest traditions, Fingeroth came with his informed insider book to the 2005 meetings at San Diego. As a long-term manager for the Spider-Man character and consultant to the 2002 blockbuster film, Fingeroth reports that he "had firsthand knowledge of what those stories meant to readers of all ages who told us in no uncertain terms what they meant to them" (174, emphasis in original). In addition to being "the caretaker of superhero icons," he "also created some brand new superheroes from scratch" (174). This background affords an unusually practical knowledge of costumes, dual identities, special powers, and requirements to differentiate between competing heroes-all compounded by the demand to create marketable products from the unstable ingredients. Influenced by the clamorous voices of fans, his knowledge of the sales charts, and recent scholarship, most of Fingeroth's thematic treatments emphasize some form of reader identification with a heroic fantasy. While this approach has been applied to comic books at least since Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent (1954), Fingeroth brings elegant nuances. Chapters deal with the longer history of the superhero concept, dual identity, orphans, female superhero, angry superheroes, the superhero families, the values that underlie heroism and villainy, and the superhero tale's future. While many categories and insights are familiar to those who have read works such as Richard Reynolds' Superheroes (1992) or Gerard Jones's Killing Monsters (2002), most readers will find an original touch or a significant speculative question associated with each theme. (Fingeroth leaves many of his vexingly challenging questions for others to grapple with.) I will list some sample observations. On Gratitude. The hero of masked dual identity "doesn't want to get used to being thanked" (49). Drawing on Lenny Bruce's "Thank You, Masked Man" routine, Fingeroth suggests that the convention of the Lone Ranger escaping from the rescued community allows the purity of the deed to stand alone. The stance of selflessness is a cliche for the genre. What Fingeroth adds here is how the escape-from-thanks maneuver appeals to an audience wanting heroes who emphatically do the right thing for its own sake. The Primal Appeal of Secret Identity. The hidden identity of the superhero, when identified with by the audience, permits an enlarged fantasy about myself, the reader, as source of justice: "IF ONLY THEY (whoever your they may be) KNEW THE TRUTH (whatever that truth may be) ABOUT ME (whoever you believe yourself to he), THEY'D BE SORRY FOR THE WAY THEY TREAT ME" (60, caps and emphasis in original). Orphan Heroes. There are legions of orphans in the heroic world, a tradition that goes back to Moses, Oedipus, and Hercules. The orphan status intensifies the secret identity theme but also reflects an existentialist form of individualism. Without families, "we are all alone. We fight our own battles, make our own rules, defy those who would destroy us" (70-71). The Incredibles film of 2004, which appeared after Fingeroth's book was written, cleverly plays with this idea by showing how difficult it is for a superhero (Mr. Incredible) to be embedded in a family and work situation. Thus, the orphan with superpowers becomes the ultimate American individualist. …

52 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Jancovich and Lyons as mentioned in this paper examined the economics of the producing institutions, strategies of scheduling and line-ups, formats and individual shows, and finally, the audiences themselves, concluding that must-see shows represent a higher quality of television than programs that are geared toward mass audiences.
Abstract: Quality Popular Television Marc Jancovich and James Lyons, Editors. London: British Film Institute, 2003. Intended to show why some contemporary television shows are so compelling, this edited volume looks at the recent phenomenon of "mustsee" or quality television programs. These must see shows were originally created as a response by the networks to the crisis in audience demographics brought on in the wake of competition from the cable and satellite channels in the 1980s. Whereas earlier, the networks tried to attract mass audiences for their fare and assumed that there \vas a stable viewing public who could be expected to watch an entire evening's line-up, by the 1980s, the emphasis had become one of trying to retain their most valuable audiences: affluent viewers whom the advertisers most coveted. The must-see television programs were thus specifically designed not for a mass audience, but for the affluent, highly educated consumers who were attracted to the literary qualities of the programs and who were most attractive to advertisers. Whereas some have criticized these programs precisely because they are geared toward -and usually preoccupied with -white, affluent, urban middle-class people, others have instead focused on the issue of how these programs represent a higher quality of television than programs that are geared toward mass audiences. The overall purpose of this volume is not so much to sidestep either of these claims, but to offer a broad range of essays that might allow the reader to gain a better perspective on the processes at work in the production of these programs. The essays explore such topics as the economics of the producing institutions, strategies of scheduling and line-ups, formats and individual shows, and finally, the audiences themselves. The first section of the book focuses on the question of industries, networks, and programming. Jennifer Holt, for example, looks at the effects of the economic deregulation of television in the 1980s and 1990s, and analyzes how the creation of vertically integrated entertainment conglomerates affects the kinds of programming decisions that are made. In another essay in this section, Nancy San Martin explores how must-see shows function as "anchors" for an evening's scheduling line-up as a "way to bring viewers to the network for the evening. Paul Rixon, in another essay in this section, looks at how American television shows have functioned within the British programming line-ups, and how they have influenced trends in British television production overall. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture as discussed by the authors is a collection of essays about the relationship between feminism and popular culture, focusing on women's empowerment and empowerment.
Abstract: Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture Jane Caputi. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004 Though some will disagree with its theoretical assumptions and specific conclusions, the essay collection Goddesses and Monsters finds cultural critic Jane Caputi engaged in three decades of carefully sustained, wide-ranging, and valuable conversation about the relationship between feminism and popular culture. The volume will be especially enjoyable for those feminists, such as Nancy Summers, who fear that "feminism seems to have become increasingly more endangered because it is more and more cut off from its popular and political base by pressures from within." In Caputi's work, one finds a refreshingly explicit political and substantially radical second-wave agenda, one honed and refined by the many feminisms of the third wave. Most centrally, Caputi works from the secondwave anthem -"the personal is political" -connecting the most private issues of patriarchal oppression (incest and rape, for example) to the institutional means of enforcement (developments in technology and "nucleansm" in particular). Though the emerging portrait of modern culture is unceasingly grim, Caputi sustains herself and her readings with a passionate belief in re-visioning the world through a radical, ecofeminist, goddess-centered consciousness: A master consciousness ... splits the integrity of being, releasing destructive power as surely as when the atom is split and generating a series of false oppositions. "Otherness," the basis of oppression, is created when the self is split, and what is disowned, feared, and denied in the self is projected onto another being or group .... The "other" is the stigmatized and warred against. A holistic, green, and gynocentric imagination seeks to restore to the divine (and to the self) those necessary aspects of the whole that have been demonized and made into the "other." Caputi's consistent goal in the last thirty years has been nothing less than tracing the signs of the "master consciousness" in past and contemporary popular culture, and then digging out the signs of an ongoing feminist resistance, "faint markings that can be deepened and filled in, trails that can be followed, not only into the mythic past, but also into an alternative future." Although she recognizes that "feminist invocation of various ancient Goddess traditions is often dismissed as naive, simplistic, static, and essentialist," she holds firmly to the reclaiming of a "necessarily dynamic and dualistic Nature" that has been lost through a patriarchal distortion of goddess and monster myths. Essays are organized into four sections: Patriarchal Myths, Gods and Monsters, Myths and Technology, and Female Potency. They date from her influential 1978 essay "Jaws as Patriarchal Myth" to the newly penned and coauthored "Femme Noire," both part of the opening section that outlines Caputi's claim that the sexist and racist foundations of popular culture rest in the patriarchal narrative of inequality. In "Sleeping with the Enemy as Pretty Woman Part II" for example, two films that appear to be polar opposites are explored as equally dependent on pervasive and destructive myths of female submission and male reform found in both the romance and thriller genres. And these narratives in turn are most often dependent upon a dark Other-a "monstrous" woman (or sometimes man) of color-making the white woman complicit in the colonializing agenda of a film such as Aliens. Caputi is highly aware of the controversial nature of her claims and of the political climate that shapes counterclaims. In the section's closing essay, "Pornography of Everyday Life," for example, she locates her critique of pornography within the highly charged feminist debate on the topic, resisting the binary argument that to oppose pornography is to advocate "sexual repression or censorship." It is a sexuality grounded in inequality, not sexuality itself, that she resists. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Zukin this paper argues that the shopping obsession is part of a larger cultural tendency or obsession to go faster, ever faster, work more and buy more, and argues that most things that we see, buy, wear, and use are shorter-lived than we are.
Abstract: Point of Purchase Sharon Zukin New York: New York University Press, 2005 It's easy to condemn shopping and the glut that results, but it's much more difficult to understand the whole process Zukin, professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, has written a delightful and insightful book that attempts to explain it The more we shop, the more we want to go shopping It has become a way of life on the cutting edge of contemporary American culture We live in a landscape of consumption-department stores, mail order catalogs, discount chains, Internet sites, endless TV ads, and lures that help us to redefine and reinvent ourselves Our landscapes of consumption have also become our landscape of power and of desire We shop, therefore we are If shopping has become to many inescapable, why does it also seem unsatisfying? Has it become not only a habit, but also a hidden addiction? Do we have a compulsive physiological need to shop? Are we living in a Consumer's Republic? Another word comes to mind: obsession Webster's Dictionary defines it as a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an idea or feeling Might the shopping obsession be part of a larger cultural tendency or obsession to go faster, ever faster, work more and buy more? In the words of an old hymn, "Work for the Night Is Coming?" Shop until you drop? To cope with this, manufacturers and advertisers turn out more and more of everything The new problems become glut and obsolescence For centuries, almost everything was scarce - food, water, medicine, transportation, for example Then came the Industrial Revolution, when there were massive surpluses; stories attached themselves to consumer goods - soup, thread, patent medicine, and canned meat, for example How to market the surplus? Tell a story There is a hammer pounding an anvil in your brain Make it pound away if you want to sell something, anything Do you think all of this doesn't apply to churches, colleges, and museums? If so, you are wrong They have become outposts of Madison Avenue Now we have "Best Values," "America's Best Hospitals," "Best College Sports Programs," "Best Mutual Funds," ad infinitum There is a real and inescapable cause for the cultural speed-up Something that has never been true before is obvious to many of us today: most things that we see, buy, wear, and use are shorter lived than we are If it works, it's obsolete Obsolescence is not only accepted, it is enforced Out of date is out of step and out of luck All of this can occur in the twinkling of an eye How then to survive? We purchase, plunder, and pay …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Promise of Democracy and Mass Communication and the Meaning of Self in Society as mentioned in this paper is a seminal work in the field of mass communication and the meaning of self-identity in society.
Abstract: Preface.1. Mass Communication and the Promise of Democracy.2. Mass Communication and the Meaning of Self in Society.Bibliography.Subject Index.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Powerpuff Girls encounter Femme Fatale, a criminal who carries a C-shaped gun and demands that the teller of the bank she is robbing fill the loot sack with only Susan B. Anthony coins as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Introduction FEMME FATALE. Surely you've noticed. Female superheroes aren't nearly as revered as male superheroes. BUBBLES. Sure they are. There's Supergirl. Batgirl. FEMME FATALE. Shhh. They're so lame. Merely extensions of their male counterparts. Who besides you is a heroine in her own right? BLOSSOM. Huh! There's Wonder Woman and ... eh ... um ... um . . .Wonder Woman BUTTERCUP. She's right! There is no one else. The above exchange was included m a 2002 episode titled "Equal Fights" of the animated series Powerpuff Girls (1998-), which follows the adventures of three diminutive superheroes. In this episode, the Girls-Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup - encounter Femme Fatale, a criminal who carries a C-shaped gun and demands that the teller of the bank she is robbing fill the loot sack with only Susan B. Anthony coins. When the Powerpuff Girls capture Femme Fatale, this villain, in an attempt to evade punishment for her crimes, appeals to the Girls in the name of female solidarity: "Sending me to jail would be a blow for all of womankind ... including you" ("Equal Fights"). Femme Fatale's ploy works, for a time; the Girls become angry -with all men, from the mayor they have willingly assisted m the past to a male classmate who accidentally knocks down a female playmate during a game of catch. By the episode's end, though, the Girls have realized that Femme Fatale must pay for her crimes because, as Susan B. Anthony taught by example, equal rights for all do not include special privileges for some. Unfortunately, not all representations of superheroes promote the same equal-opportunity perspective on heroism. While most hero stories include a series of trials designed to prove the hero's worthiness (Bongco 94), many female superheroes have the privilege of demonstrating their abilities or defending their roles as heroes in a manner not afforded their male counterparts. And Wonder Woman, the "heroine m her own right" named by Blossom, set the precedent. Although Wonder Woman, who debuted in All-Star Comics in 1941, challenged previous notions regarding the subordination of female superheroes to men (Inness 144), she was still not equal to her male counterparts. In Wonder Woman's first comic book story line, the Amazon princess Diana must compete in and win a series of physical challenges that culminate in a frightening and potentially deadly game of "bullets and bracelets" (i.e., deflecting gunshots with her wristbands) to prove to the Amazon Queen-her mother-that she is a "Wonder Woman" worthy to venture into man's world to "fight for liberty and freedom and all womankind" ("Introducing" 15). In contrast, in the first Superman comic book story line published three years earlier, Clark Kent decides to don a cape and enforce justice-a decision that is neither questioned nor challenged. He becomes a hero simply because he chooses to be: "Early, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind. And so was created ... Superman!" ("Superman" 11). Thus, Wonder Woman's legacy is one of deference, or at the least, limited agency; Superman's is one of assumed autonomy. Because of these respective positions of submission or dominance, the resolution of heroic trials, in their various forms, differs significantly based on the gender of the hero. Female superheroes on trial must prove their merit to a sanctioning institution, while male superheroes on trial affect the outcome on their own behalf. The use of the narrative device of the "hero on trial" extends beyond the superhero comic book genre to portrayals of such superpowered characters on television. Like Wonder Woman, the sister witches of Charmed (1998-) and the title character of Buff y the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) face examination to justify possession of their conferred powers. Unlike Wonder Woman, the teenage Clark Kent of Smallville (2001-) and Jake Foley of Jake 2. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Green Lantern hate crime story line has received considerable attention in a range of media outlets; news stories have appeared in such mainstream venues as The New York Times (Gustines) and ("Comic's Gay") as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: When I was a kid reading comics, I used to sometimes think "they saved the mother and kid from the falling building, but would they rescue me if they knew I was a fag?" I now have an answer for that. (Letter 17) The US comic book industry has addressed a number of pressing social and political issues in its narratives through the years, including alcohol and drug abuse, racism, environmental devastation, gun control, and poverty. In the process, the industry has provided a rich tapestry of American cultural attitudes and philosophies that reflect varying approaches to issues that continue to haunt, confound, and rile the American public. With its pulse on issues relevant to US public culture, it is not surprising that the complexities of gay identity and antigay hate crimes have been increasingly explored by industry leaders, DC and Marvel Comics, since the late 1980s. While there are many comic book companies, DC Comics and Marvel Comics are consistently the nation's top two comic book producers, controlling approximately 60% of the market (McAllister 19). These two leaders in the field have introduced various gay and lesbian characters in their mainstream comic books since 1988, most of them in minor roles (Franklin 224). In 2001, the long-standing comic book Green Lantern, reaching approximately 65,000 readers every month, introduced a well-adjusted, proudly out central character, Terry Berg, in its issue #137. The issue won an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for being the year's best comic book. DC Comics pushed the envelope even further in the September and October 2002 issues of Green Lantern by becoming the first mainstream comic book to focus a major two-part story line on a central character, the aforementioned Terry Berg, whose experience of antigay violence leaves him on the verge of death. The Green Lantern hate crime story line has received considerable attention in a range of media outlets; news stories have appeared in such mainstream venues as The New York Times (Gustines) and ("Comic's Gay"). Additionally, the Green Lantern's "writer at the time, Judd Winick, was featured on an episode of MSNBC's Donahue discussing the debut of the story line. Out magazine's December 2002 issue featured Winick drawn in comic art being hailed as a straight alliance. Further, Out exclaims that the writer of Green Lantern is a "superhero to gays and lesbians" (Champagne 86). In a telephone interview, Winick lamented the fact that "hate crimes only come on the radar when people are beaten and murdered, when it also exists on a daily level." With this story, Winick said that he hoped "to create dialogue" about the topic and to prompt people to "think twice, check their mindsets, challenge their behavior." Bob Schreck, editor of the Green Lantern, states, "It's a story that needs to be told .... We've tried to reasonably, intelligently educate people that we're not all on one note" (Gustines). As if to underscore the salience of the topic, as the first installment of the two-part story line hit the stands in September 2002, the Associated Press reported that three men in West Hollywood had been victims of antigay violence ("Gay Man Beaten"). The Green Lantern hate crime story line provides a compelling opportunity to examine reader response to an important moment in the history of the US comic book industry. It also presents an opportunity to contribute to what is presently a dearth of research on masculinity in general, and gay masculinity in particular, in mainstream comic books, a point that we establish in the next section. In order to assess reader reaction to the antigay hate crime story line, we analyze twentynine unpublished letters1 written in response to the story line provided by Bob Schreck and Judd Winick. In our analysis of the letters, we argue that there was a meaningful level of understanding regarding issues of concern to the gay community among these particular letter writers. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, Wallace traces the construction of black masculine identity through such varied media as photography, autobiography, freemasonry, architecture, narrative, and dance from the earliest black American fraternities of the eighteenth century to modern twenty-first century images.
Abstract: Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men's Literature and Culture, 1775-1995 Maurice O. Wallace. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002. Constructing the Black Masculine provides a fascinating, thought-provoking look at how conceptions of black masculine identity have come to be formed by the "monocularistic (flat, dissociative, fixed) gaze" of Western whites. From the earliest black American fraternities of the eighteenth century to thoroughly modern twentiethcentury images, Wallace traces the construction of black masculine identity through such varied media as photography, autobiography, freemasonry, architecture, narrative, and dance. Along the way, he pauses to consider several figurative works of literature and infuses his analysis with the theoretical approaches of Dernda, Foucault, and Bourdieu, among others. Indeed, Wallace skillfully weaves elements of several cultural genres into an interdisciplinary study of African American masculinity. Eminently relevant and generously illustrated, this text provides an important window into how vision, image, and representation have functioned to construct the black masculine and to what ends. Wallace presents what he terms an "ocularcentric thesis" (5): that the black male body is at once both too little seen and too much seen. As a result, the racialist gaze fixes (or "frames," in photographic terms) the black male in stereotypic representations. This inability to "see" black subjects clearly has vast implications, and Wallace works to illuminate "how dangerously reductive, how morally wounding, the machinations of colonial enframing can be" (173). He insists that our ocular orientation is not inherently problematic; it is our monocular vision that results in the worst kind of representation: two-dimensional dichotomous paradigms of seeing the not-self within such binaries as "master/slave, subject/ object, black/white, colonizer/colonized, either/ or" (177). Wallace uses each chapter of his book to demonstrate how black men have responded to the racialist gaze, noting that artistic forms such as architecture and dance can be seen as weapons of protection in the psychological warfare being waged on black male identity. Leaping back and forth between examples of photographic and narrative pictorialization, Wallace applies his ocular thesis to the realms of freemasonry, autobiography, architecture, dance, and the FBI surveillance of Richard Wright and James Baldwin. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that should church leaders be successful, neither the Saints themselves nor the rest of the world will perceive a link between Mormonism and polygamy in the future, and they predict a major doctrinal change as Mormons redefine themselves during the twenty-first century.
Abstract: In the nineteenth century, as the Mormons withdrew from American society to establish their own sectarian community, polygamy became a defining characteristic - even the primary symbol of Mormon identity-for both the Latterday Saints (LDS) and their antagonists. A protracted conflict with the federal government, in which abandoning polygamy became a necessary condition for Utah statehood, ended with capitulation, and the Mormons began the twentieth century with an aggressive campaign of assimilation into American society. At the heart of this "quest for respectability" was a concerted effort to separate Mormonism from polygamy in the public eye and to eradicate the practice among the Latter-day Saints themselves. Polygamy had become a major source of embarrassment as the Saints sought to emphasize values and practices that they shared with other Americans. Having assimilated sufficiently to become a model minority and the fifth largest religious denomination in American society, the Mormons, according to some non-Mormon scholars, are on the verge of becoming the next "new world religion" (Stark; Shipps; Bloom 79-128; Davies, The Mormon 241-66; Davies, Introduction 245-54). However, "Mormon fundamentalists" (polygamist sects) continue to threaten LDS respectability by reminding people of the link between polygamy and Mormonism. Consequently, contemporary Mormon officials are engaged in a concerted effort to expunge polygamy from Mormonism by marginalizing dissidents, manipulating symbols, and rewriting history. Anticipating a major doctrinal change, we argue that should church leaders be successful, neither the Saints themselves nor the rest of the world will perceive a link between Mormonism and polygamy in the future. Thus, we will explain the significance of polygamy (plural marriage)1 for Mormon identity throughout LDS history by examining (1) the origin and institutionalization of plural marriage during the nineteenth century, (2) discontinuation of the practice of plural marriage with the Saints' assimilation into mainstream America during the twentieth century, (3) the current situation with efforts to eliminate any link between polygamy and Mormonism in both LDS and public consciousness, and (4) anticipation of a major doctrinal change as Mormons redefine themselves during the twenty-first century. Mormon Polygamy during the Nineteenth Century Mormonism emerged in America in the 1830s during a period of profound social change. A nascent industrial revolution had begun undermining the social foundations of the agrarian social order. By separating work from the household and relocating it in the factory and office, industrialization destroyed the extended family upon which agricultural societies depend. Children, as economic assets given their work on the farm, soon became economic liabilities, and extended kin, even grandparents, were difficult to relocate given the geographical mobility demanded by factory labor. It was hardly obvious to those displaced from the farm, like Joseph Smith's family, that the nuclear family of parents and their immediate offspring would become the modal form of kinship in the new industrial order. On the contrary, to contemporaries, it appeared as if the family and community were disintegrating. A few religious figures and social reformers introduced novel forms of family and community. While the Shakers, for instance, responded by embracing celibacy and repudiating marriage, the Oneida perfectionists rejected monogamy and introduced group marriage. In both cases, the community became the new family (Foster 21-122). Aware of these and other communal groups, Joseph Smith's personal experience of economic insecurity, death of siblings, and fragile community structure also reinforced his quest for renewing the kinship and community bonds associated with agrarian societies. However, he soon came to believe that the institutions of family and community required radical restructuring. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Clapson et al. as mentioned in this paper explored the relationship of suburbanization to economic and technological change over the course of the century and found that cars and communications technologies were often the glue that held suburban life together for both women and men.
Abstract: Suburban Century: Social Change and Urban Growth in England and the USA Mark Clapson. Oxford: Berg, 2003. Over the years, suburbs have got bad press soulless blobs with bad architecture that destroys communities. Clapson sets out to amend these concepts, which may often be myths. The majority of people in both the United Kingdom and the United States now live in suburbs, thanks to the rising affluence of the post-WWII period. Actually, the suburban picture is complex. We need to look first at the politics of affluence and social class. A professor at the University of Westminster, Mark Clapson believes that the twentieth century should be termed the suburban century. He determines to tell us why. This well-written and documented book is primarily a social history of suburbanization. In his introduction, Professor Clapson gives us his key themes. They all draw heavily from urban history and sociology. Chapter 2 explores the relationship of suburbanization to economic and technological change over the course of the century. It is impossible to comprehend social change in towns and cities without a strong general understanding of the expansion of public transport, the rise of the car, and the impact of communications technologies on urban and suburban life. Chapter 3 deals with the "suburban aspiration." People moving up wanted to move out. People in the country wanted to be in the city. This aspiration was satisfied in the New Deal greenbelt towns of 1930s America, and in some postwar new towns. The same was true for many English garden suburbs and new towns. The increasingly multicultural diversity of the Anglo-American suburb is a recurring theme throughout this book, but it is directly addressed in Chapters 4 and 5. The experiences of blacks, Jews, and many different Asian groups have not been fully synthesized in a comparative history before, yet millions of people in England and the United States who did not conform to any "Anglo-Saxon" stereotype moved to the suburbs. Debates about the quality of women's lives in the suburbs and arguments for and against "suburban neurosis" and the "new town blues" in England, and "suburban sadness" and the "newtown blues" in the United States, form the subject matter of Chapter 6. Chapter 7 discusses the local and the wider series of relationships m which women were actively involved. These relationships were part of a wider pattern of sociability and contact, a pattern that varied from local and informal friendships and neighborliness to more formal interactions embracing sports and leisure, and civic, religious, philanthropic, and other interestbased groups, clubs, and associations. It will be seen that cars and communications technologies, so often viewed in terms of their destructive potential for human interaction, were often the glue that held suburban life together for both women and men. Chapter 8 discusses party line readings of suburban voting behaviors since the 1940s. This approach allows us to have our cake and eat it. There is no reason to agree with the contemporary views of some political analysts that the suburbs were essentially conservative. Nonetheless, it was certainly the case that the Democratic party in the United States and the Labour party in England were fearful lest the suburbs become natural conservative territory. This was because the Republican and Conservative victories in national elections during the 1950s and the 1980s were seen, by key figures m the Democratic and Labour parties, to be largely consequential of their appeal to suburban voters. In American cinema, the 1940s classic It's a Wonderful Life (United States, 1946) was an early postwar example of many movies -happy, sad, or indifferent - about suburbanites in the postwar period. The golden age movies such as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) are broadly sympathetic to the struggles of male suburbanites to maintain their families and their suburban dreams. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The James Bond movies are the longest-running franchise in film history, making 007 the most iconic spy figure in international cinema as discussed by the authors, and they are the most popular movies in the world.
Abstract: The James Bond movies are the longest-running franchise in film history, making 007 the most iconic spy figure in international cinema. Likewise, Fleming's novels enjoyed immense popularity during the Cold War, especially after John F. Kennedy announced in an interview with Life magazine that From Russia with Love ranked as one of his top ten favorite books. In fact, at the time of Fleming's death in August 1964, over thirty million copies of Bond books had been sold, and two years later, at the height of Bond mania, that number had doubled to sixty million (Giblin 24). When inflation is considered in the calculations, the cinematic versions of Fleming's novels reflect equally impressive numbers; From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and GoIdeneye (1997) all rank among the top one hundred highest grossing films of all time ("List of Highest Grossing Films"). With Penguin Books re-releasing the Bond novels, many people are now turning (or returning) to Fleming's work, and what is perhaps most striking to these twenty-first century readers is the stark political incorrectness that the author employs. As several academic pieces on James Bond reveal,1 the spy clearly views non-British cultures as far inferior to his own, and these views are usually depicted through Fleming's villains who, to Englishmen, are racial others. These characters, which include Bulgarians, Italians, Germans, Yugoslavs, Russians, Koreans, Turks, and Americans, are the victims of shameless racial stereotypes and ethnic slurs (Arms 75). For example, in his first novel, Casino Royale, Fleming describes the local Bulgarians as "stupid, but obedient" and notes that they are merely used by the Russians "for simple killings or as fall-guys for more complicated ones" (27). In Diamonds Are Forever, American gangsters are described as "mostly a lot of Italian bums with monogrammed shirts who spend the day eating spaghetti and meatballs and squirting scent all over themselves" (18). Likewise, many of Fleming's villains, in both the novels and the films, possess sexual deviancies and physical abnormalities demarcating them as degenerate enemies. Stromberg, in The Spy Who Loved Me, possesses webbed hands; Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun, sports three nipples; Kidd and Wmt, in Diamonds Are Forever, are homosexual henchmen, and in the cinematic version of the story, Blofeld dresses in drag. These narrative devices suggest that the James Bond franchise is unwilling to acknowledge that individual differences exist among any nationality or race; the individual is reflective of the whole, and in the world of Bond, no nationality is safe from criticism -except, of course, the British. However, English nationalism is not only embodied in Fleming's villains; the novels also reveal perceived cultural supremacy through the bodies and sexuality of the series' women. In From Russia with Love, Bond is able to seduce Tatiana Romanova, a Russian agent who is originally sent to seduce and destroy Bond; this plot twist links O07's sexual prowess to his national potency by literally placing Britain on top of Russia, as their affair signals Tatiana's desire to defect to the United Kingdom. The link between female bodies and national governments is also apparent in the story when Rosa Klebb, the head of operations and executions for SMERSH, informs Tatiana of her assignment to beguile Bond. Here, Klebb tells the young Russian, "You will seduce [Bond]. In this matter, you will have no silly compunctions. Your body belongs to the state. Since your birth, the State has nourished it. Now your body must work for the state" (77) -and in fact, Klebb's own body and sexuality reflect the inhumanity and deviancy of the Soviets. Fleming describes Rosa as a neuter who sleeps with both men and women. "She might enjoy the act physically, but the instrument was of no importance ... and this psychological neutrality . …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema as discussed by the authors is a collection of twenty essays written by women interested in the history and theory of film, feminism, race, sexuality, technology, and the material cultures of the fin de siecle and World War I periods.
Abstract: A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema Jennifer M. Bean and Diane Negra, Editors. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. This omnibus collection of twenty essays offers many things to a variety of readers, especially those with interests in the history and theory of film, feminism, race, sexuality, technology, and the material cultures of the fin de siecle and World War I periods. The project evolved from "Early Women Stars," a special issue of Camera Obscura (January 2002). Bean and Negra arranged this more broadly defined collection into five cinematic categories, though the purpose is as often to challenge and reconceive as simply to employ these terms: "Reflecting Film Authorship" (authorship), "Ways of Looking" (spectatorship), "Cultural Inversions" (historical topicality), "Performing Bodies," (stardom) and "The Problem with Periodization" (periodicity). The authors undertake their anti-essentialist "feminist film archeological" project from an intentionally feminist and predominantly New Historical and thus self-reflective perspective, a stance meant to historicize "gaze" theory as well as to complicate what they see as the "ahistorical, abstracted female subject" of earlier scholarship. This premise, of course, distorts the breadth of second wave film criticism. The authors do succeed, however, in creating a richly detailed and kaleidoscopic vision of gender as filtered through the lens of the early film industry of the United States, Europe, and China, a period of approximately three-plus decades. A complex range of accepted and newly considered categories, subjects, and evidence are thoughtfully and usefully interrogated-from vampires to flappers, from America's sweetheart Mary Pickford to China's Xuan Jinglin, from documentaries to narratives, from footnotes to fan magazines. Alice Guy-Blache, for example, is the subject of Amelie Hastie's "Circuits of Memory and History"-as read through the director's memoirs and her films. Siobhan B. Sommerville resituates the gay classic "A Florida Enchantment" within the film's intersecting forces of race, sexuality, and gender. And the iconographie stature of Garbo is deepened by Lucy Fisher's reading of the seamlessly integrated Art Deco material culture that enveloped her. As with many historical and theoretical narratives based on newly excavated sites, these essays sometimes offer fascinating glimpses rather than fully satisfying arguments, providing the shining moments of insight that Virginia Woolf rightly termed diamonds in the dustheaps. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Betty and Barney Hill as discussed by the authors reported that while driving south on US Highway 3 through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just south of Indian Point, they were taken from their car by a group of small, gray, large-eyed aliens, led into an UFO, and subjected to a series of physical examinations and medical procedures, including the taking of skin, nail, and hair samples.
Abstract: In September 1961, Betty and Barney Hill, a Ne1W Hampshire couple under heavy pressure for their interracial marriage, decided to visit Montreal, Canada, for a short holiday. On their return, they found themselves suffering from unexplained physical pain, anxiety, and nightmares. They were particularly disturbed because they could not account for two hours of their return drive, so they consulted a psychiatrist, Benjamin Simon. After undergoing repeated sessions of hypnosis with Simon, they recalled a truly incredible experience: they claimed that while driving south on US Highway 3 through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just south of Indian Point, they were taken from their car by a group of small, gray, large-eyed aliens, led into an UFO, and subjected to a series of physical examinations and medical procedures, including the taking of skin, nail, and hair samples. The aliens gave Betty what they called a pregnancy test by inserting a long needle into her abdomen, and they took a sperm sample from Barney by attaching a circular device to his groin. The Hills also reported that the aliens, who communicated telepathically with them, seemed fascinated by the differences between the couple, especially by Barney's dark skin. After being told by the aliens to forget what had happened to them, the Hills were allowed out of the UFO and watched it depart. Published in 1966 as Interrupted Journey, the Hill narrative is one of the earliest published accounts of alien abduction and a blueprint for the veritable avalanche of narratives that has been published since. Indeed, the outpouring of books and articles about alien abduction and UFO sightings reached a peak during the 1990s, when they seemed to literally saturate the literary marketplace. They ranged from highbrow (Time, New Yorker) and scholarly works (historian David M. Jacobs's secret Life: Firsthand Documented Accounts of UFO Abductions [1992] and Harvard professor John E. Mack's Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens [1994]) to tabloid shockers. Almost daily radio and television programs, as well as made-for-television movies and Hollywood blockbusters-for example, Independence Day (1996), the seventh highest grossing film of all time (Handy 65) -also identified the alien and the UFO as particularly popular and profitable sites in contemporary culture. Even more striking than the ubiquity of the alien image during this period, however, was the uniformity of the experiences recounted in accounts of alien abduction. As in the Hills' case, most abductees recalled traumatic alien investigations of their bodies -and in particular, their body's reproductive processes, from the taking of sperm samples, to the harvesting of eggs, and even, at times, embryos - all conducted, ostensibly, for the purposes of advancing what the aliens consistently present as an intergalactic interbreeding program. In fact, these narratives are absolutely seething with anxieties about the body, reproduction, and even more specifically, miscegenation. Moreover, the central role of the body in these accounts is also evident m the heated debates about their reality status, which often hinge on the availability (or lack thereof) of physical evidence, and more generally, draw on the truthvalue of the abductee's sensory and emotional experience. What, then, is the significance of this literal outpouring, at the end of the twentieth century, of narratives detailing the traumas of procreation and miscegenation? And why does this anxiety manifest itself in such a literally outlandish-yet at the same time strangely familiar-form, one that had, by the end of the 1990s, achieved the status of a highly stylized and predicable genre? This article analyzes the significance of the overwhelming anxieties about the body as a source of meaning, identity, and truth evidenced in accounts of alien abduction by first considering the way these accounts, for all their outlandishness, are actually shaped by extremely potent and enduring conventions regulating the conceptualization and articulation of racial difference in the United States. …