All of the scholarship included in this volume is related in one way or another to the agenda that was established at the Journal of Popular Film and Television in 1972 to counterbalance the preoccupation with auteurism and film aesthetics at the time. The sociocultural analyses found herein basically examine film and television because of their vast popularity and widespread social influences, not despite these distinctive features.
This volume of fresh essays about popular film and television energizes the discussion in media criticism about the making and diffusing of cultural meaning. The editors’ impressive (and pluralistic) array of critical perspectives surveys, probes, and challenges the complex relationships among media producers, texts, and audiences . . . The editors draft into service diverse theoretical perspectives with the goal of discovering what is meaningful and worthwhile, rather than of performing methodological exercises. As they argue, all criticism begins with the art of asking the right questions, and these editors have marshaled essays that not only ask the right questions but also discover fascinating and worthwhile ideas. Immensely readable and insightful . . .
Film & History:
The individual essays are always informative; they reveal not only the diversity of critical approaches to the field, but also the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches. Equally important the essays are written in a style which will appeal to a broad audience as well as specialists . . . anyone interested in film and television as social forces will find them useful.
Vivian Sobchack, Professor, Critical Studies, Dept. of Film & Television
Associate Dean, UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television:
In the Eye of the Beholder is an extremely valuable contribution to the cultural study of popular film and television—not only for the merit of the individual essays, but also for bringing together scholars from two disciplines that usually do not ‘talk’ to each other despite their common interest: film and television studies and communication studies. The anthology is unique in effortlessly bridging this gap because of its commitment to methodological and critical pluralism and to the belief that film and television are intimately bound to the contexts in which they are made and seen.
Addressing a variety of texts from Ken Burns's The Civil War to the midnight cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, interrogating a variety of issues from what ‘authorship’ means for television to media ethics and social responsibility, the volume’s scope is broad, and its scholarship deep. It is written in lively prose that will engage readers and focus their attention on the way popular media are critically important to our lives and to the formation of our values. The volume is also useful for its inclusion of two annotated bibliographies—one on film, the other on television. In sum, The Eye of the Beholder is an admirable book and an intellectually entertaining read.
Sam L. Grogg, Dean, School of Communication, University of Miami:
Critical understanding of film and television absolutely demands the eclectic and all embracing approaches that are manifested in the essays that make up In the Eye of the Beholder. The editors remind us that we live in a place and time that require active understanding of some incredibly powerful and persuasive art forms . . . This is less a thoughtful text and more a thinking one. It is the active attitude of criticism that is displayed throughout the anthology which is its most positive aspect.