Smoke and Mirrors

Violence, Television, and Other American Cultures

A probing, provocative examination of television that Rolling Stone called “dense, funny, and smart as hell”

“Unlike most television critics, Leonard reads television instead of watching it, bringing to his craft swirling subtexts of literary similarities and sociopolitical connections.” —Boston Globe

In Smoke and Mirrors, John Leonard, one of the nation’s leading media critics, offers a provocative challenge to conventional ideas about television. Instead of scapegoating television as the cause of crime in our streets, stupidity in our schools, and spectacle rather than substance in our government, Leonard sees something else inside the box: an echo chamber and a feedback loop, a medium neither wholly innocent of, nor entirely responsible for, the frantic disorder it brings to our homes.

Taking on topics from kid shows to cable, from the cheap thrills of action adventures to the solemn boredom of pledge drives, Leonard argues for a whole new way of thinking about television.

Books by John Leonard

Lonesome Rangers
Homeless Minds, Promised Lands, Fugitive Cultures

John Leonard

When the Kissing Had To Stop
Cult Studs, Khmer Newts, Langley Spooks, Techno-Geeks, Video Drones, Author Gods, Serial Killers, Vampire Media, Alien Sperm Suckers, Satanic Therapists, and Those of Us Who Hold a Left-Wing Grudge in the Post-Toasties New World Hip-Hop

John Leonard

The Last Innocent White Man in America
And Other Writings

John Leonard