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Book cover of Youth, Murder, Spectacle

Youth, Murder, Spectacle

by Charles R Acland

Publisher: Westview Press
Pages: 192
Paperback
ISBN: 9780813322872






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Overview of Youth, Murder, Spectacle

In this book, Charles Acland examines the culture that has produced both our heightened state of awareness and the bedrock reality of youth violence in the United States. Beginning with a critique of statistical evidence of youth violence, Acland compares and juxtaposes a variety of popular cultural representations of what has come to be a perceived crisis of American youth.After examining the dominant paradigms for scholarly research into youth deviance, Acland explores the ideas circulating in the popular media about a sensational crime known as the “preppy murder” and the confession to that crime. Arguing that the meaning of crime is never inherent in the event itself, he evaluates other sites of representation, including newspaper photographs (with a comparison to the Central Park “wilding’’), daytime television talk shows (Oprah, Geraldo, and Donahue), and Hollywood youth films (in particular River’s Edge).Through a cultural studies analysis of historical context, Acland blurs the center of our preconceptions and exposes the complex social forces at work upon this issue in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Acland asks of the empiricist social critic, “How do we know that we are measuring what we say we are measuring, and how do we know what the numbers are saying? Arguments must be made to interpret findings, which suggests that conclusions are provisional and to various degrees are sites of contestation.” He launches into this gratifying book to show that beyond the problematic category of “actual” crime, the United States has seen the construction of a new “spectacle of wasted youth” that will have specific consequences for the daily lives of the next generation.

Synopsis of Youth, Murder, Spectacle

Through a cultural studies analysis of historical context, Charles Acland exposes the complex social forces at work upon the idea of youth violence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this gratifying book, he explores the ideas circulating in the popular media about a sensational crime known as the “preppy murder” and the confession to that crime. Arguing that the meaning of crime is never inherent in the event itself, he examines other sites of representation including newspaper photographs, daytime television talk shows, and Hollywood youth films. Acland convincingly demonstrates that beyond the problematic category of “actual” crime, the United States has seen the construction of a new “spectacle of wasted youth” that will have specific consequences for the daily lives of the next generation.

Booknews

Acland (cultural and media studies, U. of Calgary) examines the culture that has produced both our heightened state of awareness and the reality of youth violence in the US. He examines statistical evidence, popular cultural representations, and dominant paradigms for scholarly research into youth deviance. Arguing that the meaning of crime is never inherent in the event itself, he evaluates sites of representation including newspaper photos, daytime television talk shows and Hollywood youth films. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author, Charles R Acland

Charles R. Acland teaches cultural and media studies in the Faculty of General Studies at the University of Calgary, where he is an assistant professor.

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Booknews

Acland (cultural and media studies, U. of Calgary) examines the culture that has produced both our heightened state of awareness and the reality of youth violence in the US. He examines statistical evidence, popular cultural representations, and dominant paradigms for scholarly research into youth deviance. Arguing that the meaning of crime is never inherent in the event itself, he evaluates sites of representation including newspaper photos, daytime television talk shows and Hollywood youth films. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Available to Buy

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