Having previously taken aim at, among other topics, American foreign policy (The Sword and the Dollar, 1988) and media propaganda techniques (Inventing Reality, 1986), veteran progressive critic Parenti now delivers a swift kick to the assumption that American mass entertainment, although vapid, remains basically harmless. Parenti argues that ``make-believe media'' promote belief in economic and political values that support a corrupt status quo (``images and themes that propagate private enterprise, consumerism, superpatriotism, imperialism, racial stereotyping, and sexism''). While readers may question many of the implicit concepts Parenti uses to measure media performance (belief in class struggle, etc.), his exploration of topics--from Rambo's influence on Reagan to the way the movies rewrote the civil-rights struggle to make the FBI the hero to how working people are systematically portrayed as crass--are likely to challenge them to ask exactly what they have been absorbing. Parenti argues that even the genre of horror flicks--King Kong and giant grasshoppers--had a subtext of encouraging public fear of swarthy Third World hoards and communist attack. Other chapters explain how children's programming now is a seamless web of shows about toys, how medical dramas and law-enforcement programs distort reality, and how ownership of media in ever-fewer hands leads to even tighter ideological control and suppression of diversity of opinion. Prickly analysis, peppered with the remains of neatly dissected cultural icons.