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Make-believe Media

The Politics of Entertainment

Make-Believe Media cover0-312-05603-6 (paper)
Distributed by Wadsworth


In Make-believe Media, Parenti turns his eye to entertainment for an absorbing, challenging look at the way America’s “free and independent” television and film industries actually promote the ideas of the economic and political forces that control them.

Through thoughtful analysis of specific entertainment programs from family sitcoms to medical dramas, cartoons, and blockbuster movies, Parenti explains why entertainment can alter our view of history, politics, race, sex and class differences. Although programs may seem apolitical in intent, Parenti argues that they have a powerful influence not only on how we dress, talk, and spend our money, but also on how we define social problems and which ideological images we embrace. Viewers who think what they’re watching is “only entertainment” are less likely to challenge prejudices implicit in the program—including militarism, xenophobia, and ethnic bigotry—and more inclined to accept a prefabricated understanding of the world as it is portrayed on the screen.

Even viewers who claim to be immune to the obvious messages of film and television will find Parenti’s analysis provocative and compelling as he urges us to become more critical about what we choose to watch.


  1. Political Entertainment
  2. Swarthy Hordes and Other Aliens
  3. The Media Fight the Red Menace
  4. Make-believe History
  5. Blue-collar Blues
  6. Affluent Class and Corporate Brass
  7. Superdocs and Shoot-'em-ups
  8. Black Images in White Media
  9. Luigi, Tony and the Family
  10. Child Abuse
  11. Preemption, Profits and Censors
  12. The Myth of Cultural Democracy

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