Kristen Hoerl, "Bad Sixties: Hollywood Memories of the Counterculture, Antiwar, and Black Power Movements" (UP of Mississippi, 2018)


On this episode of the New Books Network, Dr. Lee Pierce (she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Rhetoric and Communication at the State University of New York at Geneseo--interviews Kristen Hoerl (she/hers) on her impressive new book The Bad Sixties: Hollywood Memories of the Counterculture, Antiwar, and Black Power Movements (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). The Bad Sixties explores the construction of “the sixties” in Hollywood media, from Family Ties and The Wonder Years to Law and Order, arguing that these texts have proved dismissive, if not adversarial, to the role of dissent in fostering progressive social change. These stories portray a period in which urban riots, antiwar protests, sexual experimentation, drug abuse, and feminism led to national division and moral decay. According to Hoerl, these messages supply distorted civics lessons about what we should value and how we might legitimately participate in our democracy. Hoerl describes our contemporary relationship to the sixties, shaped by these media portrayals, as “selective amnesia.” Selective amnesia removes the spectacular events and figures that define the late-1960s from their motives and context, flattening their meaning into reductive stereotypes. Despite popular television and film, Hoerl explains, memory of 1960s activism still offers a potent resource for imagining how we can strive collectively to achieve social justice and equality. Winner of the 2018 Book Award from the American Studies Division of the National Communication Association. Dr. Hoerl can be reached at if you have feedback or questions.

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Lee Pierce

Lee M. Pierce (she/they) is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Geneseo specializing in rhetoric, race, and U.S. political culture. They also host the Media & Communications and Language channels for New Books Network and their own podcast titled RhetoricLee Speaking.
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