Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 27, 2011 - Social Science - 320 pages
2 Reviews
"A thoughtful, in places chilling, account of the way entertainment values have hollowed out American life." --The New York Times Book Review

From one of America's most original cultural critics and the author of Winchell, the story of how our bottomless appetite for novelty, gossip, glamour, and melodrama has turned everything of importance-from news and politics to religion and high culture-into one vast public entertainment.

Neal Gabler calls them "lifies," those blockbusters written in the medium of life that dominate the media and the national conversation for weeks, months, even years: the death of Princess Diana, the trial of O.J. Simpson, Kenneth Starr vs. William Jefferson Clinton.  Real Life as Entertainment is hardly a new phenomenon, but the movies, and now the new information technologies, have so accelerated it that it is now the reigning popular art form.  How this came to pass, and just what it means for our culture and our personal lives, is the subject of this witty, concerned, and sometimes eye-opening book.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Life the movie: how entertainment conquered reality

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Shakespeare warned us that all the world's a stage, and now Gabler provides evidence that fiction and reality have become inextricably intertwined in 20th-century America. He argues that a steady ... Read full review

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How entertainment conquered reality
The novel, “Life the movie, How Entertainment conquered reality”, by Neal Gabler, is the WORST book I have ever wasted my time reading. I’m not
happy with the fact I spent as little as $3.00 on it. So I am informing you do not read this book, and do not spend your hard earned money on this book. When this class is over I intend to throw it away (Just saying). I read his last book Empire of their Own and it makes this one a major disappointment.
This is a horrible book and if you are interested in the history of Hollywood, you should read his earlier book,” Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood” is long but definitely worth reading. (This book, on the other hand.. Just set it down and do not read it)
This book was said to just be a discussion of how modern individuals have come to see an image of what they think they are than what they actually are.
And these are just some reasons
1. He mentions movies sometimes but doesn't describe anything in detail. The role in movies have played in the making of our modern view of ourselves.
2. For all his reading he seems to miss some people who should be the reason of his investigation, like Roland Barthes who makes clear that the meaning of even the most common cultural item. (like toilet paper)
3. He suggests this preoccupation with image is a new and peculiarly American phenomenon, which it’s not.
Example: Though he quotes Joseph Campbell, he misses Campbell's point that we’ve always looked for heroes and have tried to emulate them in many different ways that are creative.
4. He says that this has been driven by entertainment, which has defeated and that this is a “new” thing, but he’s wrong. Low entertainment is not a modern idea democratized by the lower classes. The general desire to be excited with entertainment.
5. He brings up SELF CONSCIOUSNESS creation of a self-image, he doesn’t entirely get to the roots of that phenomenon.
Example: The freedom we have in America makes it more possible for us to cross class, education, and cultural borders than in previous times or in many other countries.
6. He talks about celebrity but never really gets to the main point of it. That issue is how we make ourselves individuals in more modern culture. He doesn’t mention the role of introversion and extraversion.
7. Finally, I hated his moral judgments about trends. I don't think that reality TV is very enlightening or encouraging of moral values. The reasons for its existence have as much to do with Hollywood economics. There is a very interesting discussion to be had about the impact of that mass commercial approach, how the mass media limits our options and how we’ve let happen by being participants.
I hope I have persuaded you not to read this awful book, but the choice is yours. I mean if you need a book to put you to bed at night this is the book for you.


The Republic of Entertainment
The Human Entertainment
The Mediated Self
A Select Bihliography

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About the author (2011)

Neal Gabler lives in Amagansett, New York.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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