Cult Pop Culture

How the Fringe Became Mainstream
Cult Pop Culture: How the Fringe Became Mainstream. 3 vols. Praeger. 2012. 736p. ed. by Bob Batchelor. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313357800. $163. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Batchelor (journalism & mass communications, Kent State Univ.; The 2000s) offers 60 essays on people and subjects of pop-culture fascination. This is a study not only of individual pop phenomena and obsession, but also of American culture. A pop-culture time line covering 1900 to 2011 precedes the articles in Volume 1, which cover film and TV, while the other volumes address music and literature, industries, events, and sports. The expected is here (Elvis, Star Wars, comic books) as well as perhaps the unexpected (hair bands, book clubs, antiques). Other articles include "Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient: Oprah Winfrey's Cult Status," "Tell Me Everything: The Cult of Memoir," and "Pageantry: Dogs, Kids, Beauty Queens, and Spelling Bees." Articles are signed and include bibliographies and further readings, and each volume contains its own index, though there is no comprehensive index. It is a little odd that although an enthusiastic Harry Potter fan is shown on the cover of the "Literature and Music" volume, there is no essay focused on that character, but this is a small quibble with an intriguing set.
VERDICT Although many pop-culture sets exist, this one stands out for its focus on cult status and placing pop culture within the greater American experience. Appropriate for and likely appealing to patrons of public, school, and academic libraries.

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