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The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America
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The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America

liked it 3.0  ·  Rating Details ·  13 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
The Citizen Machine is the untold political history of television’s formative era. Historian Anna McCarthy goes behind the scenes of early television programming, revealing that long before the age of PBS, leaders from business, philanthropy, and social reform movements as well as public intellectuals were all obsessively concerned with TV’s potential to mold the right kin ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by The New Press
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Amy
Jan 13, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
Everyone knows the television is going downhill fast, right? Surely we can look at this week’s episode of Jersey Shore (please don’t make me!) that set a record for MTV viewership and know that quality isn’t exactly easily found in television programming today. So, should we get nostalgic and remember the old days of TV, where we imagine it was more beneficial and innocent back when the family crowded around the massive console?






Or, consider how worked-up parents get when their children’s televi
...more
Don LaFountaine
Aug 27, 2016 Don LaFountaine rated it it was ok
The idea behind the book was intriguing. The author made some interesting points, as well as some, in my opinion, some farfetched points. Ultimately, it felt like I was reading a thesis paper, with the language and dryness that is usually associated with that type of writing.

The basic premise was that television was become more accessible to Americans in the 1950's, the liberal elite tried to use it to educate the population. What a person will read about includes:
- That corporations used the m
...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Despite many leading public intellectuals believing that TV would reduce Americans to the level of plant matter, Cold War policy makers embraced the new medium to create better citizens--a process followed in this study of the DuPont company's attempts to sponsor ""educational"" programming (including American history co-opting) and the Ford Foundation's ongoing plans for a "civil liberties soap opera". In the process, this unleashed debates on fair access (in any "negro drama," White Citizens ...more
Fraser Sherman
Jun 22, 2016 Fraser Sherman rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
McCarthy's premise is that various groups—business, labor, activist foundations—saw TV as a tool by which they could take the raw material of American people and mold them into citizens (however they might define that). While I like the premise, in practice McCarthy's focus is narrow, considering only a few programs such as the once-famous Omnibus — how they were made and why, and the obstacles to getting them on the air. It's competent in its analysis of this section, but it's just too narrow a ...more
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Emily Brown
This books starts off waxing philosophy about words, so I didn't bother reading it.
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