Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture
Published February 14th 2013 by Routledge – 168 pages
In this original study, Thompson explores the complicated relationships between Americans and television during the 1950s, as seen and effected through popular humor. Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture documents how Americans grew accustomed to understanding politics, current events, and popular culture through comedy that is simultaneously critical, commercial, and funny. Along with the rapid growth of television in the 1950s, an explosion of satire and parody took place across a wide field of American culture—in magazines, comic books, film, comedy albums, and on television itself. Taken together, these case studies don’t just analyze and theorize the production and consumption of parody and television, but force us to revisit and revise our notions of postwar "consensus" culture as well.
Introduction. The Parodic Impulse in the (Not-So) Fabulous Fifties 1. The New, Sick Sense: The Mediation of America’s Health and Humor at Mid-Century 2. What, Me Subversive? MAD Magazine and the Textual Strategies and Cultural Politics of Parody 3. The Parodic Sensibility and the Sophisticated Gaze: Masculinity and Taste in Playboy’s Penthouse 4. Ernie Kovacs and the Logics of Television Parody and Electronic Trickery 5. Black Tie, Straightjacket: Oscar Levant’s Sick Life on TV Conclusion: Television for People Who Hate Television?
Ethan Thompson (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Associate Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. He is co-editor of Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era.