Zócalo Public SquareTelevision and Film Have a Role to Play in Repairing a Fractured America – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:01:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Television and Film Have a Role to Play in Repairing a Fractured Americahttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/02/20/television-film-role-play-repairing-fractured-america/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/02/20/television-film-role-play-repairing-fractured-america/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:01:37 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=83627 In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn of rock n’ roll, Elvis and The Beatles landed in living rooms across America via The Ed Sullivan Show. During the upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Walter Cronkite functioned as a reassuring and trustworthy pater familias. And in the 1980s, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way onto screens large and small, criss-crossing ethnic boundaries. But gradually, as shopping mall cineplexes targeted audiences demographically, a profusion of cable and satellite channels turned broadcasting into narrow-casting, and the cell phone morphed into an individualized video viewing platform, the pop culture landscape splintered. Today, a few industry players are working to create a new approach to entertainment, one that could bring Americans together, not just as consumers but also as citizens. In advance of “Can Television Bring America Together?”, a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means …

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What It Means to Be American In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn of rock n’ roll, Elvis and The Beatles landed in living rooms across America via The Ed Sullivan Show. During the upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Walter Cronkite functioned as a reassuring and trustworthy pater familias. And in the 1980s, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way onto screens large and small, criss-crossing ethnic boundaries. But gradually, as shopping mall cineplexes targeted audiences demographically, a profusion of cable and satellite channels turned broadcasting into narrow-casting, and the cell phone morphed into an individualized video viewing platform, the pop culture landscape splintered. Today, a few industry players are working to create a new approach to entertainment, one that could bring Americans together, not just as consumers but also as citizens. In advance of “Can Television Bring America Together?”, a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” event, we asked four writers to reflect on how television and film have united, or divided, the United States.

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