cover image Media Virus!

Media Virus!

Douglas Rushkoff / Author Ballantine Books $21.95 (338p) ISBN

This provocative title suggests the author will follow the familiar route of explaining how popular culture manipulates its audience into complacency. On the contrary, Rushkoff (The GenX Reader) asserts that media ``viruses'' empower audiences both to become more actively engaged with the media and to challenge the status quo. Viruses, e.g., rap song ``Cop Killer'' and the videotape of the Rodney King beating, are controversial, compelling images or ideas that allow countercultural politics to infiltrate mainstream media. The hidden agendas Rushkoff explores here are thus subversive ones. His readings of various media outlets, such as TV shows like The Simpsons and Ren and Stimpy, as launchpads for antiestablishment messages about alternative lifestyles, are smart and interesting. But his conclusions about the revolutionary potential of media viruses are not always substantiated by his analyses, and his use of techno-jargon makes his arguments often difficult to follow. Author tour. (Oct.)