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Television, Tabloids, and Tears

Fassbinder and Popular Culture

1994
Author:

Jane Shattuc

Television, Tabloids, and Tears

The first book to discuss Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the context of West German television and popular culture.

“Ranging from a history of German television through the biographical legend of Fassbinder to the public controversy over Berlin Alexanderplatz, Shattuc’s book presents an important historical account of German media and its audiences during the 1970’s. The work is richly contextual and should be eye-opening for scholars interested in expanding auteur studies out of texts and into the public comprehension and (sometimes) dissension about issues such as high versus mass culture, appropriate functions of state-controlled media, and proper reading strategies.” --Janet Staiger, The University of Texas at Austin

Ranging from a history of German television through the biographical legend of Fassbinder to the public controversy over Berlin Alexanderplatz, Shattuck’s book presents an important historical account of German media and its audiences during the 1970s. The work is richly contextual and should be eye-opening for scholars interested in expanding auteur studies out of texts and into the public comprehension and (sometimes) dissension about issues such as high versus mass culture, appropriate functions of state-controlled media, and proper reading strategies.

Janet Staiger, The University of Texas at Austin

"I am Biberkopf," Rainer Werner Fassbinder declared, aligning himself with the protagonist of his widely seen television adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz. The statement provoked an unprecedented national debate about what constituted an acceptable German artist and who has the power to determine art. More than any recent German director, Fassbinder embodied this debate, and Jane Shattuc shows us how much this can tell us, not just about the man and his work, but also about the state of "culture" in Germany.

It is fascinating in itself that Fassbinder, a highly controversial public figure, was chosen to direct Berlin Alexanderplatz, Germany's longest, costliest, and most widely viewed television drama. Shattuc exposes the dichotomy of institutional support for this project versus the scandalous controversial reputation of Fassbinder as a gay man who flaunted his sexuality and involvement with drugs.

Fassbinder built his reputation on two separate images of the director-the faithful adapter and the underground star; with Berlin Alexanderplatz these two identities came together explosively. Tracing the two artistic paths that led Fassbinder to this moment, Shattuc offers us a look at cultural class divisions in Germany. Her account of Fassbinder's history as an Autor reveals both the triumph and the failure of bourgeois cultural domination in postwar West Germany.

Television, Tabloids, and Tears

Jane Shattuc is associate professor of film studies at Emerson College.

Television, Tabloids, and Tears

Ranging from a history of German television through the biographical legend of Fassbinder to the public controversy over Berlin Alexanderplatz, Shattuck’s book presents an important historical account of German media and its audiences during the 1970s. The work is richly contextual and should be eye-opening for scholars interested in expanding auteur studies out of texts and into the public comprehension and (sometimes) dissension about issues such as high versus mass culture, appropriate functions of state-controlled media, and proper reading strategies.

Janet Staiger, The University of Texas at Austin

A must for both New German cinema and Fassbinder scholars.

Choice

Rarely have scholars undertaken thorough investigations of the German national cinema as an industry and popular medium. Jane Shattuc’s Television, Tabloids, and Tears: Fassbinder and Popular Culture is an attempt to do just that. Shattuc’s reading of Fassbinder and of popular media history in Germany evidences strong, well-grounded research. It will be useful material for teaching film history in postwar Germany. Some of the best work done in the last five years on German film.

German Quarterly