American media is the subject of constant critique. The seeming exaltation of violence, sex, and illicit themes creates virulent opponents of the media and its content. But could it be that the American experiment--even the quest to fulfill the American Dream--actually encourages media to act in a way that deserves these critiques?
Probing deep into the canon of all things screen, Thomas Hibbs uncovers the disturbing truths about the contemporary media landscape. Beneath the shallow facade of evil lies the Nietzschean framework of nihilism--a nothingness that undermines notions of right and wrong while destroying any sense of meaning or purpose. Yet what makes this nihilism even more profound is Nietzsche's warning that liberal democracies are especially susceptible to such nothingness. In his examples, Hibbs shows how the popular story lines and characters of our time often rule out any possibility of making a "right" decision. Ultimately, Shows about Nothing toes the line between something and nothing to suggest how popular culture can move beyond nihilism.
Fragmentary Philosophical Preface
1. Nihilism, American Style
2. The Quest for Evil
3. The Negative Zone
4. Normal Nihilism as Comic
5. Romanticism and Nihilism
6. Defense against the Dark Arts
7. "God Got Involved"
8. Feels Like the Movies
Hibbs knows Hollywood—from its self-indulgent nihilism to its capacity of art that nourishes the soul. Shows about Nothing offers both a perceptive analysis of the artistic merits of a wide range of film and TV shows and a diagnosis of their cultural significance.~William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and, most recently, Dimiter
Truly astounding and enlightening. This book is so rich in ideas that before finishing it, one will likely have made plans to read it again.~Doug McManaman
Hibbs entertains and enlightens. I would never have believed that an insightful discussion of the subtle relationships between nihilism, romanticism, and liberal individualism could be so hard to put down. Shows about Nothing is a profound page-turner.~Thomas Kelly, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
... an entertaining yet deeply insightful discussion of the relationship between nihilism and popular culture.~Choice
The best way to understand the influence of Nietzsche on popular culture.~Boundless Webzine
Hibbs has a resplendent knowledge of, and a chagrined appreciation for, popular culture.~Weekly Standard