VULGARIANS AT THE GATE: Trash TV and Raunch Radio—Raising the Standards of Popular Culture

Steve Allen, Author VULGARIANS AT THE GATE: Trash TV and Raunch Radio—Rai $26 (419p) ISBN 978-1-57392-874-8

At the forefront of television's Golden Age in the 1950s, Allen reigned for decades as a top TV comedian. However, his serious side has always been evident in his 54 books—from his autobiographical Mark It and Strike It (1960) to Ripoff: The Corruption That Plagues America (1979). In recent years, Allen became increasingly disturbed by the entertainment industry's declining cultural standards and "the general ugliness and immorality of much of popular culture." He made his position clear in letters, lectures and articles and by serving as the honorary chairman of the 600,000-member Parents Television Council. Here, he conducts an "admittedly unscientific study of modern television programming," yet offers an array of statistics, survey findings and clippings to back up his assertions targeting TV writers, programmers, performers, network executives and corporate giants. Tracing a pattern of denial, he moves on to "late night raunch," public-access channels ("actual pornography of the most explicit sort"), "family-friendly" sponsors responsible for sending prime-time "depravity into the home" and violence in children's programming. At the core of the book are lengthy attacks on Madonna, Howard Stern, Jerry Springer and rap music. Dismissing "the suggestion that networks can police themselves," he concludes by surveying such solutions as letters, picketing, boycotts and religion. An appendix lists 21 key organizations. (Apr. 15)

Forecast:Allen undoubtedly would have promoted this book had he lived to see it published (he died last October at age 78). Still, his name and credibility will attract attention. Current controversies on media sex and violence could put this title in the spotlight, and word-of-mouth among members of conservative organizations like the Dove Foundation will fuel sales.

Reviewed on: 03/26/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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