"Television and I grew up together." As a baby boomer born in 1947, Susan Bordo is roughly the same age as our beloved gogglebox, which began life as a broad box with a ten-inch screen, chunky and clunky and encased in wood. With the rapid changes in technology in the years since, "television", as Bordo points out, has become estranged from its material status.
Every book on the history of television has a chapter (or more) on sports. Mine doesn’t. The reason is simple: I can’t watch a sports event without smelling my father’s cigar.
Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad Men, Killing Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.
In 2017, when Hillary Clinton emerged after a well-deserved hiatus to resume public service, the calls for her to quietly leave the stage and take up gardening or knitting began to pour forth.
Are you surprised? Do you imagine that because I am a critic of popular culture I wouldn’t be caught dead watching Dance Moms? If so, you’ve been reading too many academics who came to popular culture only after it became Europeanized and hot. When I was in graduate school, the voracious maw of theory had only begun to invade and chew up the objects of everyday life into unrecognizable form. There were as yet no popular culture departments, the closest you could get was film studies—within which you could study Nosferatu but not Jaws.
Want more political Bordo? This follow-up and companion collection to The Destruction of Hillary Clinton travels the years from 2016-2019 through pieces and posts on the people, events, and issues that marked that momentous period, from Trump's inauguration to the beginnings of the 2020 Democratic primary contest.
As we near a hugely consequential election, I present a tribute to Georgia via “Designing Women,” excerpted from my forthcoming book on growing up with television.
This conversation references Bordo’s prominent works such as The Flight to Objectivity (1987), Unbearable Weight (1993), Twilight Zones (1997) and The Male Body (1999) to contextualize arguments on the body, sexuality and social stigma. The views of Bordo presented here are also based on recent political developments and the rise of women of colour in the global political arena.
We’re so sorry. We make great bourbon, but we let the country down.
We didn’t get rid of Mitch McConnell.
Last year, I was asked to write a preface to a forum that my former graduate students, now successful teachers and writers, had put together for the journal Frontiers. It was published in March 2019. Now, in December 2020, as I’m struggling with pandemic weight-gain, I thought others might identify. So, encouraged by Facebook friends, I’m publishing here. Please do tell your own stories in response!