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The Movie of the Week: Private Stories, Public Events.

Here's a sophisticated, against-the-grain study of the politics of popular TV by Elayne Rapping, who writes a regular column on culture for The Progressive. The essays in this work focus on a particular genre: the made-for-TV movie, which is usually dismissed as schmaltzy, low-brow, vacuous, apolitical fare by contemptuous critics. But Rapping takes on this prevailing elitist attitude; she defends many of these movies for being public events that wrestle with urgent social issues, and she argues that they often carry progressive, even subversive, messages, albeit in a contradictory way. Rapping's feminist perspective is especially illuminating, and her two chapters on women in these movies carry the day. Rapping notes that TV movies are not only geared toward women, they portray women in a positive light. "From the perspective of the female audience, these movies provide something most mass media - or high art for that matter - deny them: a view of women as important, commendable, even remarkable people. These movies care about women's problems and treat them with dignity and respect." What's more, she argues, some of the offerings (including The Burning Bed, Silent Witness, A Case of Rape, and Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal) directly challenge patriarchy and capitalism. As in her writings for The Progressive, Rapping here makes a persuasive case that TV is not a wasteland but a contested terrain of ideological struggle.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:227
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