Wallowing in Sex is a lively analysis of the key role of commercial television in the new sexual culture of the 1970s. Elana Levine explores sex-themed made-for-TV movies; female sex symbols such as the stars of Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman; the innuendo-driven humor of variety shows (The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Laugh-In), sitcoms (M*A*S*H, Three’s Company), and game shows (Match Game); and the proliferation of rape plots in daytime soap operas. She also uncovers those sexual topics that were barred from the airwaves. Along with program content, Levine examines the economic motivations of the television industry, the television production process, regulation by the government and the tv industry, and audience responses. She demonstrates that the new sexual culture of 1970s television was a product of negotiation between producers, executives, advertisers, censors, audiences, performers, activists, and many others. Ultimately, 1970s television legitimized some of the sexual revolution’s most significant gains while minimizing its more radical impulses.
Elana Levine is Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
In Undead TV, media studies scholars tackle the Buffy phenomenon and its many afterlives in popular culture, the television industry, the Internet, and academic criticism. Contributors engage with critical issues such as stardom, gender identity, spectatorship, fandom, and intertextuality. Collectively, they reveal how a vampire television series set in a sunny California suburb managed to provide some of the most biting social commentaries on the air while exposing the darker side of American life. By offering detailed engagements with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s celebrity image, science-fiction fanzines, international and “youth” audiences, Buffy tie-in books, and Angel’s body, Undead TV shows how this prime-time drama became a prominent marker of industrial, social, and cultural change.
Contributors. Ian Calcutt, Cynthia Fuchs, Amelie Hastie, Annette Hill, Mary Celeste Kearney, Elana Levine, Allison McCracken, Jason Middleton, Susan Murray, Lisa Parks
Newman and Levine argue that television’s growing prestige emerges alongside the convergence of media at technological, industrial, and experiential levels. Television is permitted to rise in respectability once it is connected to more highly valued media and audiences. Legitimation works by denigrating "ordinary" television associated with the past, distancing the television of the present from the feminized and mass audiences assumed to be inherent to the "old" TV. It is no coincidence that the most validated programming and technologies of the convergence era are associated with a more privileged viewership. The legitimation of television articulates the medium with the masculine over the feminine, the elite over the mass, reinforcing cultural hierarchies that have long perpetuated inequalities of gender and class.
Legitimating Television urges readers to move beyond the question of taste—whether TV is "good" or "bad"—and to focus instead on the cultural, political, and economic issues at stake in television’s transformation in the digital age.