Neal Gabler   The Life of Thomas More  
Neal Gabler    

Life: The Movie: an excerpt

  Did you know that you are in a movie right now? It's called Life and it's starring every one of us. The plot is constantly in flux but to keep up with the new scripts just turn on your TV, pick up a newspaper, or log-on to the Web. Pay attention because the cast of characters is always changing and if you want a starring role you may need to get involved in a sex scandal, run for office, marry a billionaire, or just be weirder than anyone else. You don't have to audition because talent is no longer a prerequisite for celebrity. Yes, your fame may be fleeting but your infomercial will live forever. For, this is America, otherwise known as "The Republic of Entertainment."

In Life The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality, Neal Gabler gives us his "unified field theory" of how entertainment became the dominant force in American life, spreading its values to everything from religion, to politics, to business and even academia. From the evolution of the popular theater and penny press in the 19th century, to the arrival of movies and television, to the notion of celebrity as news legitimized by reporters like Barbara Walters, to the rise of Buttafuocos and Bobbitts, Gabler gives us a map of how we arrived at this point in our history. Uniting everything from Joseph Campbell's analysis of mythology to Zsa-Zsa Gabor's husbands, Gabler turns the camera on how even those of us not in the spotlight (for now) have learned to conduct and structure our personal lives as "entertainment" and what this means for our future. Life The Movie is a clarifying lens through which to examine our surreal, perhaps post-real, society.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an interview with Neal Gabler and an excerpt from his fascinating book.

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  Photo of Neal Gabler copyright © David Turner

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