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Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment
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Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  64 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Does violence in movies, on television and in comic strips and cartoons rot our children's brains and make zombies-or worse, criminals-of adults at the fringes? In this cogent, well-researched book, American pop-culture expert Harold Schechter argues that exactly the opposite is true: a basic human need is given an outlet through violent images in popular media.

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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Press
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Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 31, 2011 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
Another library book I've had out for a while and needed to finish and get back. This is a "discussion" of the effects of "violent entertainment" on us...the unwashed masses...the hoi polloi.

Actually I agree with the conclusion that the author comes to here. To wit, that on the whole violent entertainment doesn't turn people (young or old) into serial killers, mad bombers, raving lunatics...or lawyers.

So, why only 3 stars if I agree with Dr. Schechter? Because there are some flawed arguments and
Good compilation of cultural history from about the middle ages until recent history, which shows how our entertainment as well as the society around it has gotten less violent. I learned about this book in Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature. There were some odd moments where it seemed Schechter was making the case that when people consume simulated violence in their entertainment it reflects evil violent tendencies ingrained in those people. I also think he exaggerated his descriptions ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it
A terrific read. Really gets you thinking about the past, present and future of media and violence as well as the growing audience - us.

Initially I picked up this book as I am becoming a big fan of Schechter's, but also because I was looking for insight into my own odd interest and curiosity with the macabre.

I've read over a dozen books about Jack the Ripper, countless mystery novels, historical true crime and unsolved murders and "Crimes of the Century" types and I thought - perhaps this book
Nov 14, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
Harold Schechter makes cogent arguments as to why our seemingly violence-riddled, violence-loving society is a tame kitten compared to the society of fifty years ago and further into the past. As our culture becomes more peaceful with falling rates of violent crime, the entertainment media of movies, video games, etc. correspondingly portray more (and more realistically gruesome) acts of violence, puritanical social critics blame these media for most of the evil in the world, and worry that the ...more
Aug 23, 2008 Shelly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Older teens and adults
Recommended to Shelly by: No one
I like to bring books to school as I finish them to share them with my students as a way to inspire them to read. I won't be doing that with this one.

There were pictures.

They were mostly illustrations from very old thrill rags - by very old I mean eighteenth century and older, but even so they were more graphic than I'd want to share with my students.

The author's main argument is that they hysterics over the violence in the media - TV, movies, video games - is blown out of proportion. As it tur
Mar 15, 2009 Vicki rated it really liked it
This book is a wonderfully diverting look at all of the terribly violent ways human beings have been entertaining themselves -- and each other -- throughout history. I've always thought that indulging in violent media leads to violent behavior, but this book pretty much debunks that theory with facts. So.... if you're worried that video games and R-rated movies are leading our youth to go out and shoot people, etc. please read this book! You will be greatly relieved to know it's not true. You'll ...more
Apr 19, 2007 Warren rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who thinks things are getting worse
Shelves: non-fiction
Every age is violent. New media create storms of outrage and censorship. And things were actually worse before you were born.

Read this book and find these and other nuggets of not-so-common sense. Includes horrifying samples of past violent entertainment, complete with scalpings, murders, etc.

I consider this another nail in the coffin of "common wisdom".
Dec 25, 2007 Sean rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: hillary clinton
awesome book that makes the case that entertainment is not only less violent in modern times, but that most public entertainment throughout human history was based around execution and torture. super disturbing. makes me want to start collecting Police Gazettes from the 1890's.
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Apr 02, 2013 Brownguy rated it liked it
Ok, pop culture is violent, big whoop. People are violent.
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Aka Jon A. Harrald (joint pseudonym with Jonna Gormley Semeiks)

Harold Schechter is a true crime writer who specializes in serial killers. He attended the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he obtained a Ph.D. A resident of New York City, Schechter is professor of American literature and popular culture at Queens College of the City University of New York.

Among his nonfiction works are
More about Harold Schechter...

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