Spectacular Girls: Media Fascination and Celebrity Culture
Much has been said about the persistently negative portrayal of girls in the media, and I expected this to be another critique of the dangers of such depictions. While that is an important discussion, it’s not what this book is about, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a new perspective within these pages.
Projansky does address the dominant portrayal of girls in the media, but she does so in order to push past it and seek out other representations. She argues that there are other portrayals out there, if only we care to look, and that stressing the omnipresence of the dominant depiction silences all these other representations. Furthermore, she argues that girls are not passive consumers of media but are rather capable of a child’s version of media critique, thus suggesting that the media might not be so dangerous after all.
While Projansky’s choice of which representations to analyze, including childhood stars of the 70s, live sports coverage of the 90s, and movies of the early twenty-first century, makes the chapters feel disjointed, the overall theme is cohesive. Also, while some of her specific points are a bit of a stretch (especially her interpretations of the words and behaviors of actual children), her overall argument is compelling. This is an important book making an important point, and I am glad it exists.