You Are What You Watch: How Movies and TV Affect Everything

Workman. Oct. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781523515899. $30. SOC SCI
Pulitzer Prize winner Hickey (deputy editor, Insider) presents a refreshing analysis of media consumption by explaining the human body’s physiological responses to it. After the first chapter, the book skyrockets into the “hows” and “whys” of cinematography. For example, it looks into directed vs. undirected scenes, how Victorian architecture came to embody the archetypal haunted-house image, the change in villain origin stories over time, and the ways in which New York City is repeatedly destroyed in cinema. There’s probing of heists, the decline of the sitcom, and the trends of baby names, hobbies, and crime perception, all correlated to the popularity and messaging of certain movies and TV shows. Equally fascinating is the exploration (and explosion) of merchandising tie-ins for film and television, and why sequels, remakes, and adaptations prove more popular and lucrative than original stories. Hickey also documents the media exports of Britain, Japan, and Korea and makes a solid case for why binge-watching isn’t necessarily the best way to experience a show.
VERDICT A worthy, fun dissection of pop culture that’s full of infographics and data.
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