Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life: The Movie

Over fourteen years old [its publication date 1998], Life: The Movie, by Neal Gabler reveals how Americans obsess over “celebrity, gossip, scandal, and real-life melodrama.”

Beginning with the nineteenth century, Gabler investigates how our country became so focused on the “sensations of the popular press” as well as the “theatrics of the popular stage.” Part history, part social commentary, he unearths steadily and with multiple examples the rise of entertainment and the demand we seem to have for it.

According the Gabler, entertainment is the “triumph of sensation over reason and the movies are “the barbaric yawp as no American from before” [love the Walt Whitman turn of phrase]. He believes its effects to be “corrosive” and the most “pervasive, powerful, and ineluctable force of our time -- a force so overwhelming that it has finally metastasized into life.”

With over fifty pages of notes, a bibliography, and an index, Gabler did his research. His fascinating look and in depth analysis of this social issue makes for a read that takes a hard look at us and our need to, as one writer puts it, “amuse ourselves to death.”


  1. When I was younger, I used to resent the fact that my parents heavily censored my consumption of entertainment media. Now, I could not be more grateful. Instead of watching TV or listening to the radio, I learned to entertain myself by reading, creating, and spending time outside. Thank goodness!

  2. that last quote, from neil postman, no? and this, why i am so humbled by your commenting on my posts. because you're so darn smart. :)(plus, i just plain like you!) hope you are well, friend. bless you.