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Technologies of Truth: Cultural Citizenship and the Popular Media

Toby Miller
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Technologies of Truth
    Book Description:

    In a world ever more complex and media-saturated, what is the value of the truth? Here, Toby Miller provides a pithy and clear-sighted examination of how television, magazines, film, and museums influence the way our society conceptualizes such issues as citizenship, democracy, nationhood, globalization, truth, and fiction. Along the way, he explicates surprising connections between cultural objects and discourses, producing a new meeting ground for cultural, social, and political theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8829-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)

    • Introduction: Daguerrotropes and Such
      (pp. 3-36)

      Baltimore, 1913. An electric sign spells out “TRUTH” in letters ten feet high at a meeting of the National Association of Advertisers. The meeting produces the “Baltimore Truth Declaration,” a code of conduct that specifies and denounces misleading advertising. This commitment to truth as a productive force and a banner for the industries of persuasion was twosided. It combined an internal uncertainty—what constituted “the true” in a rapidly changing world characterized by competing definitions of need and agency—with an external anxiety: the state might intervene in the association’s business through unwelcome regulation (Lears 20). That shift, between self-governance...

    • 1 Sister Morpheme (Clark Kent—Superman’s Boyfriend)
      (pp. 37-63)

      It is 21 November 1993, Sunday night in New York. The evening is given over on numerous networks to the formation of public memory. Program after program is dedicated to jogging, creating, or supplementing a recollection of thirty years ago tomorrow. Just as the umpteenth screen version ofThe Three Musketeers(Stephen Herek, 1993) comes to the theaters—Douglas Fairbanks, Walter Abel, Don Ameche, Gene Kelly, and Michael York displaced by Chris O’Donnell—Trente Ans Aprèsis happening, anachronistically, in public affairs television. CBS offers a reprise ofThe Waltons: twenty-five diegetic years after the Depression and fifteen after the...

    • 2 Leavis to Beaver: Culture with Power, Culture as Policy
      (pp. 64-98)

      Stefan Collini’s conceit about cultural studies is both accurate and unfair. It is accurate in that it describes academic innovation and politics in general and the specific connection of cultural studies to the humanities, the social sciences, and identity politics. It is unfair in that it ignores the much murkier disciplinary histories of other areas, singling out the new field because its predilections are transparent and debatable rather than hidden and nonnegotiable; it is unfair also because Collini fails to address recent developments. Noel King, by contrast, has pointed out that the tentacular extension of textuality has been brought into...


    • 3 A Short History of the Penis: ET’s Rendezvous at HQ
      (pp. 101-140)

      It is a step down from the summative heights of Part I to the low tone of this chapter. But lowering the tone makes it more complex, as any shift from metadiscourse to specific sitesmustdo. Part II is about how technologies of truth create meanings and police conduct across popular culture. Throughout, my purpose is to demonstrate the intrication of genre, audience, and the modern under the sign of governmentality in contemporary somatic, national, and international cultural politics played out at legal, economic, media, and policy sites. With those elevated terms reprised from previous chapters, let us move...

    • 4 How Do You Turn Indooroopilly into Africa? Mission: Impossible, Second World Television, and the New International Division of Cultural Labor
      (pp. 141-181)

      The anecdote that began chapter 2, about Olivia Newton-John imitating “authentic” U. S. country music, threatening its indigenous practitioners into establishing a national cultural police force, and then being roped in herself by reggae-rap, has resonances in the international division of cultural labor and the remaking ofMission: Impossible(M:I) by U.S. money, on Australian—initially Queensland—shores, with European, North American, Caribbean, and African “locations,” fifteen years after its first life on American network TV. The state of Queensland was ultimately malleable in the hands of the U.S. Paramount company and Australia’s Village Roadshow Corporation (subsequently a joint owner...

    • 5 The Truth Is a Murky Path: Technologies of Citizenship and the Visual
      (pp. 182-215)

      Americans must know a lot about the world, cradling it in their own populism as per chapter 4. But this seems an awkward thing to be saying in contemporary cultural theory, when the United States is thought to contain infinite numbers of nations (queer, Christian, Native American, silent majority, of Islam, and others). In some sense it seems to be the world, or at least its prime representative of economic and political infrastructure and demographic intermingling. This poses additional problems when we remember that writings about popular culture conventionally juxtapose two apparently antagonistic locations of power. Other than in cultural...

    • 6 Historical Citizenship and the Fremantle Prison Follies: Frederick Wiseman Comes to Western Australia
      (pp. 216-244)

      The two genres discussed in this chapter are critical sites for the production of truth. The museum stands as an Enlightenment object dedicated to the curation of other objects. It embodies the selection and control of an artifactual national past and lessons in how people should access that past. The direct-cinema documentary, by contrast, is wobbly, a handheld, fast-speed film made with light sound-recording equipment that redefined the notion of screen actuality in the ten years to 1970 through its technical and textual innovation and its desire to shock viewers. One genre locates its authoritativeness in monumentalism, the other in...

  6. Conclusion: I Am the Morning DJ on WONK
    (pp. 245-268)

    Is there something wrong with these statements? In the first, does the mixing of metaphors (boob, smart, couch, potato, surf, bottleneck, frontier) confuse and conflate issues? Or, if we subject the logic to a synchronic and diachronic analysis, does it open up contradictory linguistic heritages, allowing us to see how certain anti-popular culture themes return? Perhaps it also indicates the risks of separating communications and cultural policy. In the second, is it the misogyny of objections to flaccidity and untrammeled mothering, a distaste for the popular ooze that makes its way from the screen into the playpen through women’s playful...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-296)
  8. Index
    (pp. 297-304)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)