cover image Caught in Play: How Entertainment Works on You

Caught in Play: How Entertainment Works on You

Peter G. Stromberg. Stanford University Press, $22.95 (218pp) ISBN 978-0-8047-6111-6

Author and anthropology professor Stromberg (Language and Self-Transformation) examines popular entertainment of all kinds for their societal effects, past and present, in this rigorous and readable study. Books, movies, and shopping come under the microscope, but so do forms like advertising; intelligently twining propagandistic effects with the idea of romantic realism to find the motivation for consumer spending and product appeal. Stromberg also delivers an array of information about early theater and the origins of the European and American obsession with fashion. Drawing from a collection of established researchers and authors, Stromberg's all-encompassing text is, itself, a meta-narrative on his idea of being ""caught up,"" that entertainment maintains its grip on society because it replaces mundane, every day existence with a more colorful, peaceful, meaningful world. Reading this smart commentary on the grand spectrum of entertainment is an addictive experience, a sharp example of the very phenomenon it illuminates.