August 22, 2008
18 b&w photos, 2 figures
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v2.1 Reference

Homer Simpson Goes to Washington

American Politics through Popular Culture

Edited by Joseph J. Foy
The modern landscape of American entertainment is filled with commentary on the state of the union. Many people now get their news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report instead of Fox or CNN, and satirical political films such as Bulworth and Wag the Dog resonate with audiences and reviewers alike. The cartoon sitcom The Simpsons has used American politics to shape its plotlines since its debut in 1989, and many Americans view the current war on terror through the eyes of Jack Bauer, the fictional hero of the controversial action show 24. Politics has always influenced entertainment, and Americans increasingly use popular culture to make sense of the U.S. political system and current debates. There is, however, another facet to the relationship between politics and popular culture: education. Exposure to political ideas through television, film, and music generates interest and increases knowledge among viewers and listeners. The presentation of political ideas in popular media often begins a dialogue through which citizens develop opinions about and interest in political ideas. The resulting discussions of politics and civic life have a significant value as a means to educate Americans about their government. In Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture, Joseph J. Foy and other contributing scholars offer a variety of perspectives on politics through the framework of popular culture. From the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to the cutting-edge television program Chappelle's Show, the authors use a wide spectrum of entertainment media to explain the complexities of U.S. politics and how audiences engage them. The authors not only explain fundamental concepts such as civil rights, democracy, and ethics but also examine common assumptions about government and explore the use of controversial ideas in entertainment. Jennifer J. Hora uses The West Wing to introduce the heroic-president model of executive leadership, and Dean A. Kowalski presents V for Vendetta as a vehicle for understanding American political thought. Other essays test the impact of entertainment news on political knowledge and investigate the presentation of broadcast news in film to determine how well the media serves the people. The book also looks at folk music's ability to popularize protest and offers an insightful commentary on social movements in U.S. history. Popular culture and politics have never been so intertwined in the American consciousness as they are today, with films, television shows, and songs contributing to the debate over the promises versus the realities of democracy. As political knowledge becomes increasingly valuable, Homer Simpson Goes to Washington explains how popular culture can actually help connect people to their government.

About the Author

Joseph J. Foy is assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. He is contributing author to The Philosophy of The X-Files and The Executive Branch of State Government: People, Process, and Politics.


"Winner of the 2008 Cawelti Award for the Best Textbook and Primer in Popular Culture."—

""This book collects interesting and illuminating commentaries on the relationships between popular culture and politics, and shows that popular culture can in fact provide pathways to discussion and better understanding of political phenomena."—Timothy M. Dale, coauthor of Political Thinking, Political Theory, and Civil Society"—

""This book offers a wide-ranging set of essays that document the vitality of American popular culture and its continuing relevance to our understanding of American politics. Looking at everything from movies and television to popular music and folk songs, the contributors explore the intersection of and the interaction between culture and politics in the modern American media."—Paul A. Cantor, author of Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization"—

""In this informative and entertaining essay collection, Foy largely succeeds at breaking down the 'artificial barriers' between American politics and popular culture.""Foy has compiled an energetic assortment of analyses that convincingly argue that an interest in popular culture can counterbalance the growing tide of political apathy in the United States."—Publishers Weekly"—

""In a society where more people are interested in voting for their favorite American idol than their next president, it is essential to have increasingly more literature and entertainment that is both interesting and educational."Jon Morris, The Forum"—

""Homer Simpson Goes to Washington accentuates the positives of what used to be called "low culture."— Thomas Allen Heald, The Rapid City Weekly News"—

""The text would make an excellent supplement or resource in any number of popular culture and similar courses. Highly recommended."—Choice"—

""Homer Simpson Goes to Washington as a study of popular culture, as a barometer, disseminator and replicator of values and ideas is a useful and important exercise."—Megan Yarrow, MCreviews"—

""Will entice readers— an audience of political science scholars, popular culture critics, and the average citizen looking to bridge the gap between the reality and the ideal of America."—Journal of Popular Culture"—

""Maybe those people who get all of their political news from The Daily Show aren't so far off track."—Politics"—

9780813125121 : homer-simpson-goes-to-washington-foy
280 Pages
$70.00 USD

Other Titles by Joseph J. Foy

The Philosophy of J.J. Abrams

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Homer Simpson Ponders Politics

edited by Joseph J. Foy, Timothy M. Dale, with contributions by Dean A. Kowalski, Ph.D., Timothy M. Dale, Eric T. Kasper, Susanne E. Foster, James B. South, Matthew D. Mendham, S. Evan Kreider, Mark C. E. Peterson, Mary M. Keys, C. Heik...
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The Philosophy of Ang Lee

edited by Robert Arp, Adam Barkman, James McRae, with contributions by James McRae, Renee Kohler-Ryan, Sydney Palmer, Michael Thompson, Jeff Bush, Misty Jameson, Patricia Brace, Carl Dull, Ronda Roberts, Basileios Kroustallis, Adam Bark...
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