CHANNEL SURFING by Henry A. Giroux

CHANNEL SURFING

Race Talk and the Destruction of American Youth
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A lively, provocative assessment of the media's biased portrayal of today's youth and the damaging effects of this misrepresentation. Giroux (Education/Penn State Univ.) contends that movies, television, and Madison Avenue brazenly portray young people--and especially African-American youth--as one-dimensional, amoral misfits. Even as their public education, health care, and social services are being ``attacked and abandoned,'' youth are demonized, scapegoated, and valued solely as consumers. To bolster his argument, Giroux cites such recent media phenomena as the controversial Calvin Klein jeans ads in which teens were depicted as mindless sex objects and Larry Clark's film Kids, which portrays teens as sociopaths. Particularly perturbing to Giroux is the current state of race relations, and here, too, the media are largely blamed. In the hit film Dangerous Minds, ``whiteness emerges as the normative basis for success, responsibility, and legitimate authority.'' Only the white Michelle Pfeiffer can save lower-class kids of color by ``relying on the logic of the market'' and rewarding them with trips to fancy restaurants. Ignored are the underlying causes of their difficulties. Similarly, the media granted too much attention, and thus legitimacy, to the arguments about African-American deficits and abilities presented in The Bell Curve. Giroux contends that that book's popularity was symptomatic of the increasingly conservative agenda of our times. Regarding news reporting, Giroux believes that the gulf between blacks and whites in America was only heightened by the media's incessant replays of the disparate reactions to the O.J. Simpson verdict. While Giroux is a bit selective in his media surfing, his arguments are as convincing as they are disturbing.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-16265-0
Page count: 254pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997