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Book review: Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. , written by Martha Bayles

Book review: Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image... Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. New Haven, ct : Yale University Press, 2014. isbn 978-0300123388, 336 pp., us$ 30.00. Martha Bayles, a professor of humanities at Boston College and a respected us cultural critic, has extrapolated to foreign policy the peculiar American sensation of watching ‘The Simpsons’ while travelling abroad. Her central argument is that Hollywood has usurped control of American public diplomacy and harmed the national interest. This is an important point to make because of the sheer ubiquity of us cultural exports. Countries use public diplomacy to influence foreign audiences and favour their political agenda. In the American case, the incredible volume of us film, television, music and literature completely overwhelms the us State Department’s public diplomacy effort. To provide just one example, the Disney movie ‘Frozen,’ the top-earning animated feature of all time, grossed worldwide about the same as the combined State Department public diplomacy and Broadcasting Board of Governors’ budget request for 2013. Bayles held her book tour a few months after I published my own volume. 1 While I took exception to her central conclusion, I found to my surprise that most of our arguments lined http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Brill

Book review: Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. , written by Martha Bayles

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy , Volume 10 (1): 105 – Jan 27, 2015

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Book Reviews
ISSN
1871-1901
eISSN
1871-191X
DOI
10.1163/1871191X-12341299
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad. New Haven, ct : Yale University Press, 2014. isbn 978-0300123388, 336 pp., us$ 30.00. Martha Bayles, a professor of humanities at Boston College and a respected us cultural critic, has extrapolated to foreign policy the peculiar American sensation of watching ‘The Simpsons’ while travelling abroad. Her central argument is that Hollywood has usurped control of American public diplomacy and harmed the national interest. This is an important point to make because of the sheer ubiquity of us cultural exports. Countries use public diplomacy to influence foreign audiences and favour their political agenda. In the American case, the incredible volume of us film, television, music and literature completely overwhelms the us State Department’s public diplomacy effort. To provide just one example, the Disney movie ‘Frozen,’ the top-earning animated feature of all time, grossed worldwide about the same as the combined State Department public diplomacy and Broadcasting Board of Governors’ budget request for 2013. Bayles held her book tour a few months after I published my own volume. 1 While I took exception to her central conclusion, I found to my surprise that most of our arguments lined

Journal

The Hague Journal of DiplomacyBrill

Published: Jan 27, 2015

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