OVER THE EDGE by Leo Bogart


How the Pursuit of Youth by Marketers and the Media Has Changed American Culture
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A 50-year veteran of market research contradicts the conventional wisdom about the importance of targeting consumers under 35, while simultaneously scolding advertisers and media executives for corrupting American society.

Bogart is a sociologist from the University of Chicago who spent much of his career at the Newspaper Advertising Bureau. He is upset that producers of broadcast television, cable television, Hollywood movies, popular music, video games, Internet sites, and other mass media promote what he believes to be gratuitous violence and casual sex to the extent that many audience members are desensitized at home, scared of the world outside their door, tempted to use violence against alleged tormentors, or worse. Bogart is doubly upset that the production values are based on what he says is the mistaken notion that violence and sex are effective in selling material goods to what is usually termed the 18-to-34 age group. The evidence that violence and sex sell stuff is mixed at best, Bogart says. And the generalization that consumers in that highly targeted age group will retain brand loyalty during later decades is downright unsupportable. While questioning the assumptions of advertisers and content producers, and holding them partially responsible for decreasing social civility and increasing crime rates, Bogart has not lost sight of their talent. He simply wants them to employ it differently. He believes that the initiative to do that will have to come from within each industry, because governments are too beholden to the media industries and too constrained by the First Amendment to play a major reform role. Also, self-regulation by the producers from industry to industry is counterproductive, as in the example of an R or an NC-17 movie rating causing young people to desire more greatly to come in, not stay away. A return to more civil norms by the producers themselves is the only effective answer.

An educational, accessible diatribe grounded in decades of accumulated knowledge, and certainly well-intended.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-56663-633-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2005


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