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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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Bring in the Noise

Bring in the Noise

(p.370) Bring in the Noise
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter comments on the incessant demonizing of popular culture and media by both the right and the left. From tabloid television and MTV to gangsta rap, Pulp Fiction and saturation coverage of O. J. Simpson/the Bobbitts/Amy Fisher, politicians and high-minded journalists see popular culture and media as nothing but sleaze and moral degradation. Their latest target is daytime TV talk shows. Commentators reveal the stop-the-presses news that the talk-show audience prefers sex and violence to analyses of health care and foreign policy. Beyond this indisputable fact the legions of outraged moralists have little enlightenment to offer, since they rarely bother to pay much attention to the reviled genre, let alone try to understand what is going on in the imagination of people who do. If talk shows reflect a democratizing impulse, they are also a symptom of today’s anti-utopian and anti-political mood, and they are more likely to reinforce class and racial fragmentation. Finally, the problem is not the excesses of talk shows but the brutality and emptiness of America’s political culture.

Keywords:   popular culture, media, right, left, talk shows, political culture, sex, violence, television, America

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