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Too Much of a Good Thing : Mae West as Cultural Icon - Ramona Curry

Too Much of a Good Thing

Mae West as Cultural Icon

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Before Madonna, before Marilyn, there was Mae. The impact of Mae West - through her films, attitude. and aphorisms "too much of a good thing can be wonderful"; "is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" - continues to reverberate through American popular culture 15 years after her death. Ramona Curry examines the interplay between West's bawdy, worldly persona and 20th-century gender and media politics. Although West has remained an important figure, her image has fulfilled varied cultural functions. In the 1930s, she was a lightning rod for debates over morality and censorship. in the 1970s, the complexity of her portrayal of gender made her a controversial figure for both the gay rights and feminist movements. Curry analyzes the symbolic roles West has occupied, arguing that she represents a carefully orchestrated transgression of race, class, and gender expectations, a transgression expressed through West's spectacular costumes, her distinctive performance style, and her on- and off- screen relations with African Americans and gay men. In addition takes a historical look at west's disruptive power as a comedian, a primary source of her continuing appeal. Moving beyond a detailed examination of Mae West's place in American popular culture, Curry illustrates how icons of pop culture often distil contested social issues, serving diverse and even contradictory political functions. Curry then proposes a model for cultural studies that integrates history, media, and feminist theory.

Introduction: Posthumous Citings from Pistol to Puddle
The Sex "Queen"p. 1
The Prostitute, the Production Code, and the Depressionp. 28
The Star Commodity from Asset to Liabilityp. 55
Comedic Performance from Social Satire to Self-Parodyp. 78
The Female Impersonator in Gender Politicsp. 113
Merging Interestsp. 135
Notesp. 151
Selected Bibliographyp. 195
Recorded Performancesp. 209
Indexp. 211
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780816627912
ISBN-10: 0816627916
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 28th February 1996
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 15.24  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.39