The Beatles: Image and the Media charts the transformation of the Beatles from teen idols to leaders of the youth movement and powerful cultural agents. Drawing upon American mainstream print media, broadcasts, albums, films, and videos, the study covers the band's career in the United States. Michael R. Frontani explores how the Beatles' media image evolved and how this transformation related to cultural and historical events.
Upon their arrival in the U.S., the Beatles wore sharply tailored suits and cast themselves as adorable, accessible teen heartthrobs. By the end of the decade, they had absorbed the fashion and consciousness of the burgeoning counterculture and were using their interviews, media events, and music to comment on issues such as the Vietnam War, drug culture, and civil rights. Frontani traces the steps that led to this change and comments on how the band's mantra of essential optimism never wavered despite the evolution of its media profile.
Michael R. Frontani is associate professor of communications at Elon University. His work has appeared in American Journalism, Journal of American Culture, Journalism History, and African Studies Review.
"The Beatles didn't just change popular music - they changed the world of their time and that of future generations. Michael Frontani examines how thoroughly the Beatles upended the cultural apple cart in this compulsively readable and exhaustively researched book. The way in which the Fab Four turned the tables on the media, using them for their own devices, illustrates the canny intelligence that lay beneath their image as loveable moptops."
"Frontani (communication, Elon Univ.) prefaces this book with John Lennon's murder and descriptions of the ensuing responses to Lennon's life. He goes on to offer six succinct chapters on how the Beatles became a lightning rod for teens and society. Defining the Beatles' various images by using four categories of media text--promotion, publicity, work product, and commentary--the author demonstrates how Brian Epstein brought Beatlemania to the forefront of music and culture, particularly in the US. Beginning with the oxymoronic "safe/toughness" heralding the Beatles' American introduction in 1964 and concluding with Jann Wenner's promotion of their commentary to launch Rolling Stone magazine, Frontani covers the Beatles' "separate and distinct identity" evolutionary time line. He concludes with the 1995 Beatles Anthology broadcasts. Scholars will appreciate the copious bibliography citing the works Frontani employed to build his case for the Beatles' impact on society and history. Those who witnessed the onset firsthand will enjoy taking the magical mystery tour again; those who came to Beatlemania later will relish this concise retelling of the story from a single focus. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers, all levels."
-- T. Emery, Austin Peay State University
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2008
"The Beatles came to the consciousness of United States teenagers, not through extensive touring, but through an image that was created, fostered and redefined by the media and the band. Michael R. Frontani's The Beatles: Image and the Media
traces the arc of the Beatles career from the viral days of Beatlemania to their role as mature artists/cultural icons of the late 1960s. Along the way, Frontani gives us one of the must read books for understanding the Beatles lasting hold on our consciousness."---Michael Cheney
"The best study to date of the Beatles' reception in the United States, their successful media images, and debates over their popularity and influence."