Hit Makers

Hit Makers

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson

HC 79 .C6 T49 2017

“Nothing ‘goes viral.’ If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today’s crowded media environment, you’re missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history – of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults – that turns some new products into cultural phemonena. Even the most brilliant ideas wither in obscurity if they fail to connect with the right network, and the consumers that matter most aren’t the early adopters but rather their friends, followers, and imitators – the audience of your audience.

In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has ‘good taste,’ and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold yet sneakily recognizable.

Every business, every artist, and every person looking to promote themselves and their work wants to know what makes some works so successful while others disappear. Hit Makers is a magical mystery tour through the last century of pop culture blockbusters and the most valuable currency of the twenty-first century – people’s attention.

From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Facebook, from small Etsy designers to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson leaves no Pet Rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens and why things become popular.”
– publisher description

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The Platinum Age of Television

The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific by David Bianculli

PN 1992.3 .U5 B57 2016

“One of our best television critics explains – historically, in depth, and with probing interviews with the celebrated creators themselves – how the art of must-see/binge-watch television has evolved and why TV shows have eclipsed films as the premier form of visual narrative art in our time.

Darwin has his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli’s theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way. In tracing the evolution of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television – our age, the era of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad and Mad Men and The Wire and Homeland and The Walking Dead and The Americans and Girls – he focuses on the development of classic TV genres, among them the sitcom (in three flavors), the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the Western, the animated series, the medical drama, and the variety show. In each genre he selects five key examples of the form, tracing its continuities and its dramatic departures and drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history. The interviewees include Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Larry David, Amy Schumer, Vince Gilligan, David Chase, Matthew Weiner, Carol Burnett, Aaron Sorkin, Louis C.K., and Larry Wilmore.

Television has triumphantly come of age artistically. What was once denounced as a “vast wasteland” now flourishes as a garden of art and entertainment for viewers of all ages and tastes. The Platinum Age of Television is the first book to date to examine in full detail, and with a keen critical and historical sense, how this inspiring development came about.”
– publisher description

Life Moves Pretty Fast

Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn Them From Movies Anymore) by Hadley Freeman

PN 1993.5 .U6 F75 2016

“In Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley Freeman interviews the producers, directors, writers and stars of cult classics to discover how John Hughes found Molly Ringwald, how the friendship between Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi influenced comedy, and how Eddie Murphy made Americans believe that race can be transcended – and much, much more. Looking back on this cinematic world, she considers how the changes between movies then and movies today say so much about society’s expectations of women, young people, and art – and explains why Pretty in Pink should be put on school syllabuses immediately.

Funny, fascinating, and insightful, Life Moves Pretty Fast is a truly rigorous, heartfelt tour of some of the best-loved movies ever made.”
– publisher description

MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson

MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson by Steve Knopper

ML 420 .J175 K66 2015

The ultimate critical biography of Michael Jackson: a panoramic, vivid, and incisive portrait that explores and celebrates his influence in music, dance, and popular culture.

From the moment in 1965 when he first stepped on stage with his brothers at a local talent show in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson was destined to become the undisputed King of Pop. In a career spanning five decades, Jackson became a global icon, selling over four hundred million albums, earning thirteen Grammy Awards, and spinning dance moves that captivated the world. Songs like “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” altered our national discussion of race and equality, and Jackson’s signature aesthetic, from the single white glove to the moonwalk, defined a generation. Though his final years were mired in scandal and controversy, Jackson’s ultimate legacy will always be his music.

Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper explores the beguiling and often contradictory forces that fueled Michael Jackson’s genius, from his early days with the Jackson 5 to his stratospheric success as a solo artist to “Beat It” and “Thriller,” “Bad,” and “Man in the Mirror” to his volatile final years, his attempted comeback, and untimely death. Drawing on an amazing four hundred interviews – ranging from Jackson’s relatives, friends, and key record executives to celebrities like will.i.am and “Weird Al” Yankovic – this critical biography puts all the elements of his career into perspective and celebrates his triumph in art and music. This is a rare and comprehensive view into the genius and influence of an incomparable talent.”
– publisher description

Lighting Up

Lighting Up

Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking on College Campuses by Mimi Nichter

HV 5760 .N53 2015

“Over the past 40 years, rates of adult smoking have fallen dramatically, yet young adults continue to smoke substantially more than any other age group. At a time when just about everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, why do so many college students smoke? Will they eventually give up smoking, either as graduation approaches or once they enter the “real world”? Lighting Up investigates such questions about smoking and explores the experiences and perspectives of hundreds of college students.

Mimi Nichter examines how and why many college students engage in social smoking, emphasizing its key role in students’ lives and how different social contexts can either stimulate or inhibit the practice. Nichter examines how smoking can act as a social lubricant, help college students express and explore their identities, or enable them to communicate their emotions. Although most college students claimed their social smoking was “no big deal” because it was only temporary and most smoked at low levels, they often expressed ambivalence or reluctance to quit once graduation approached. Life after college involves many uncertainties, and a difficult job market heightens stress and instability. For those who have come to depend on the comfort of cigarettes during college, this array of life stressors makes cutting back or quitting more difficult, despite their intentions and understanding of the harms of tobacco. Further, emerging products, like e-cigarettes, offer an opportunity to move from smoking to vaping. Lighting Up provides a rare glimpse into the role of social smoking in the lives of college students and considers how uncertain times may lead to uncertain smoking trajectories that reach into adulthood.”
– publisher description

Weed the People

Weed the People

Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America by Bruce Barcott

HV 5822 .M3 B374 2015

“Marijuana legalization is the next great refutation of the impossible. The long era of pot prohibition is quickly giving way to an American social and economic revolution. In 2012, Bruce Barcott, a pot skeptic and middle-aged father, reluctantly voted for legalization. He woke up the next morning and wondered: What have we done? To answer that question, the award-winning author embarked on a journey into the strange new world of legal weed. The result is an investigative travelogue by turns humorous, insightful and brilliantly observed. Barcott meets botanists breeding new strains, investors chasing marijuana millions, marketers designing wholesome dope brands, scientists exploring how pot can heal and harm, and parents struggling to explain it to their kids. Weed the People is a sneak preview for the millions of Americans who will soon need to decide whether, when and how they use legal pot. Filled with the pungent aroma of change, Weed the People is a provocative examination of one of the most significant cultural moments of our time.”
– publisher description

I Am Not a Slut

I Am Not a Slut

I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet by Leora Tanenbaum

HM 1096 .T36 2015

“Young women today are encouraged to express themselves sexually. Yet when they do, they are derided as “sluts.” Caught in a double bind of mixed sexual messages, they’re confused. To fulfill the contradictory roles of being sexy but not slutty, they create an “experienced” identity on social media – even if they are not sexually active – while ironically referring to themselves and their friends as “sluts.”

But this strategy can become a weapon used against young women in the hands of peers who circulate rumors and innuendo – elevating age-old slut-shaming to deadly levels, with suicide among bullied teenage girls becoming increasingly common. Now, Leora Tanenbaum – senior writer and editor for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, author of the groundbreaking work Slut!, and the writer who coined the term slut-bashing – revisits her influential work on sexual stereotyping to offer fresh insight into the digital and face-to-face worlds contemporary young women inhabit. She shares her new research, involving the experiences of a wide range of teenage girls and young women from a variety of backgrounds as well as parents, educators, and academics. Tanenbaum analyzes the coping mechanisms young women currently use and points them in a new direction to eradicate slut-shaming for good.”
– publisher description