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The Vanishing of Scale in an Over-the-Top Nation
Gone are the days of enjoying life's simple pleasures for pleasure's sake. Twenty-first-century Americans are on a mission to cram every second of their earthly existence with significant accomplishments and momentous events. Even the most mundane undertaking must be approached with zeal, gusto, and expertise, or so the media persuade us to believe.
Are we capable of doing anything casually anymore?
In this first book-length treatment of media's obsession with triviality, cultural critic Ronald Bishop calls into focus the role of media in the demise of scale—the amount of effort, intensity, and significance with which we live—in contemporary culture. Bishop argues that American audiences are assaulted with messages that the ordinary, and often private, aspects of our lives—family, childhood, parenting, education, food, sports, home improvement—must be showcased publicly and with extreme passion. Playfully mixing personal narratives with an abundance of examples from television shows, news stories, editorials, advertisements, books, and movies, Bishop demonstrates how media promote the idea that the notion of scale must be abandoned to achieve success and happiness in modern society.
Written with originality, intellectual acumen, and wit, More is a must-read for anyone obsessed with being obsessed and for others interested in media's contribution to society's out-of-scale behavior.
1. Go Forth and Multiply
2. Is Breast Best?
3. Is Zero Tolerance Tolerable?
4. Only Experts and Fanatics Need Apply
5. My Drug of Choice
6. The Tyranny of Talking Points
7. Does Anthony Bourdain Hate Rachel Ray?
8. The Museum of Me
Conclusions: Thanks a Lot, Tim McGraw
"From extravagant Christmas displays to showcase homes, Bishop reveals the way television has redefined our thinking so that joy is defined by extravagance and edification by a chore. More gives us much to think about."
—Norma Pecora, Professor, School of Media Arts and Studies, Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University
"More is an engaging, liberal-minded rumination on what a society might lose when it allows exaggeration, spectacle, and collective distraction to become the dominant features of its public life. Bishop recognizes both the comic absurdity and the serious consequences of a popular culture without a sense of proportion."
—Kevin M. Moist, Associate Professor of Communications, Penn State Altoona
"In each chapter, [Bishop] weaves together a variety of sources into a beautiful tapestry offering a clear illustration of the difference between what a given topic really is and the message the media conveys as normative."
"An artful examination of the interplay between the images and messages of pop culture and the most basic activities of American life. If we can't distinguish and evaluate the significance of one event over another—raising our children, what we should eat, how we entertain ourselves—how can we ever achieve the timeless values of health, balance, and meaning?"
—David Wann, author of The New Normal: An Agenda for Responsible Living and Simple Prosperity: Finding Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle
"Bishop is an accomplished cultural critic and writer, and his wit and examples prevent the book from becoming pedantic or preachy. More suggests that when television strips away perspective, it is time to turn off the television. Highly recommended."
—Choice (2012, 49:06)
"Is there no "down time" left to simply enjoy life, or does it all have to be driven by a "bucket list" up until the moment we die? Personal narratives and examples from recent news, popular television shows, books, etc. help to illustrate Bishop's point about the importance of critically evaluating one's desires and goals in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world that pushes people, politics, and lifestyles to their natural extremes. Highly recommended."
—Midwest Book Review (Nov. 2011)
Ronald Bishop is Professor of Communication at Drexel University. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Bishop is the author of When Play Was Play: Why Pick-Up Games Matter and Taking on the Pledge of Allegiance: The News Media and Michael Newdow’s Constitutional Challenge. He lives in the greater Wilmington, Delaware area.