CHANGING CHANNELS by Glenn C. Altschuler


America in TV Guide
Email this review


 Two academicians tune in to TV Guide and assess how well everyone's favorite boob-tube digest, which boasts the highest circulation in publishing history (about 20 million copies sold weekly), has tuned in to America. Grossvogel (Comparative Literature/Cornell) has done this sort of highbrow/pop-culture analysis before, in Dear Ann Landers (1987); here, he teams with Altschuler (American Studies/Cornell). The profs work well together. Their premise is obvious--that TV Guide mirrors the changing values of its readership--but it's fascinating nonetheless to see how the magazine's 40-year history perfectly conforms to that of the nation. Born in the Eisenhower/Father Knows Best years, TV Guide began with sanitized puff pieces on the stars (no divorce, alcohol, or sex). In the 60's and 70's, it grew self-consciously cynical, skewering celebrities with tough profiles by Dick Gehman and Edith Efron. The 1988 purchase by Rupert Murdoch turned back the clock, and now TV Guide offers a sexed-up version of its 50's cream-puff diet. Along with this history, the authors track the magazine's record on three social issues: feminism, civil rights, and treatment of the news. Despite founder Walter H. Annenberg's reputation as an archconservative, Grossvogel and Altschuler find TV Guide to be ``complex, occasionally confused, and even self-contradictory'' in its political positions. By dishing up celebrity gossip on a scholarly platter, this deserves the guilty-pleasure-of-the-month award. One of the better highbrow studies of pop Americana. (Eight photographs and three linecuts.)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-252-01779-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1992


NonfictionALL SHOOK UP by Glenn C. Altschuler
by Glenn C. Altschuler
NonfictionRUDE REPUBLIC by Glenn C. Altschuler
by Glenn C. Altschuler