The story of how our bottomless appetite for novelty, gossip, and melodrama has turned everythingnews, politics, religion, high cultureinto one vast public entertainment.
Neal Gabler calls them "lifies," those blockbusters written in the medium of life that dominate the media and the national conversation for weeks, months, even years: the death of Princess Diana, the trial of O.J. Simpson, Kenneth Starr vs. William Jefferson Clinton. Real Life as Entertainment is hardly a new phenomenon, but the movies, and now the new information technologies, have so accelerated it that it is now the reigning popular art form. How this came to pass, and just what it means for our culture and our personal lives, is the subject of this witty, concerned, and sometimes eye-opening book.
"A thoughtful, in places chilling, account of the way entertainment values have hollowed out American life." --The New York Times Book Review
Neal Gabler is the author of five books: An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, and, most recently, Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity and Power for the Yale Jewish Lives series. His essays and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Playboy, Newsweek, and Vogue, and he has been the recipient of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, Time magazine's nonfiction book of the year, USA Today's biography of the year, a National Book Critics Circle nomination, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Public Policy Scholarship at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Shorenstein Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Patrick Henry Fellowship at Washington College's C.V. Starr Center. He has also served as the chief nonfiction judge of the National Book Awards. Gabler is currently a professor for the MFA program at Stonybrook Southampton.
"Mesmerizing.... [It] frames a discussion that seems absolutely vital right now." -The Atlantic Monthly
"[An] engagingly written, often hilarious and well-informed account of the ways in which entertainment creates a Moebius strip world of stories and images." -The San Diego Union-Tribune