Acculturated: 23 Savvy Writers Find Hidden Virtue in Reality TV, Chic Lit, Video Games, and Other Pillars of Pop Culture
Contemporary popular culture, from books to film to television to music to the deepest corners of the internet, has provoked much criticism, some of it well deserved. Yet, popular culture is culture for many Americans--particularly younger Americans. It is the only kind of cultural experience they seek and the currency in which they trade.
In Acculturated, twenty-three thinkers examine the rituals, the myths, the tropes, the peculiar habits, the practices, and the neuroses of our modern era. Every culture finds a way for people to tell stories about themselves. We rely on these stories to teach us why we do the things we do, to test the limits of our experience, to reaffirm deeply felt truths about human nature, and to teach younger generations about vice and virtue, honor and shame, and a great deal more. A phenomenon like the current crop of reality television shows, for example, with their bevy of "real" housewives, super-size families, and toddler beauty-pageant candidates, seems an unlikely place to find truths about human nature or examples of virtue. And yet, on these shows, and in much else of what passes for popular culture these days, a surprising theme emerges: Move beyond the visual excess and hyperbole, and you will find the makings of classic morality tales.
As the title suggests, readers will find in these pages "A-Culture Rated." This lively roundtable of "raters" includes renowned cultural critics like Caitlin Flannigan and Chuck Colson and celebrated culture creators like the producers of the hit ABC comedy Modern Family and the host of TLC's What Not to Wear. Editors Christine Rosen and Naomi Schaefer Riley have tasked these contributors--both the critics and the insiders--with taking a step or two back from the unceasing din of popular culture so that they might better judge its value and its values and help readers think more deeply about the meaning of the narratives with which they are bombarded every waking minute. In doing so, the editors hope to foster a wide-reaching public conversation to help us think more clearly about our culture.
CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE Judy Bachrach, Megan Basham, Mark Bauerlein, Pia Catton, Chuck Colson, Paul Corrigan, Caitlin Flanagan, Meghan Cox Gurdon, Margo Howard, Kay S. Hymowitz, Jonathan V. Last, Herb London, Stacy London, Rob Long, Megan McArdle, Wilfred M. McClay, Caitrin Nicol, Joe Queenan, Emily Esfahani Smith, Brad Walsh, and Tony Woodlief.
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