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‘Incorrect Entertainment or Trash From The Past’ (review)

Written by Anthony Slide
Published by Bear Manor Media

 

Author Anthony Slide is good. I’m genuinely impressed. His Bear Manor Media book, Incorrect Entertainment isn’t new—it came out in 2007—but I was sent a copy to review and I was immediately smitten with it.

Incorrect Entertainment is a sort of older sister book to comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff’s recent book Outrageous, a History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars. Where Kliph essentially discusses a timeline of entertainment controversies, Anthony Slide collects what amounts to 17 separate essays on various types of controversial entertainment over time.

See? Totally different, yet related.

Incorrect Entertainment’s individual chapters are absolutely packed with just enough on-topic information and it’s all presented in such a way as to make you want to keep reading. No information overload.

Subjects involved herein include tasteless jokes, bimbos, camp, bad taste, bodily functions, racist music, war, drugs, and fascism. Once famous gossip queen Hedda Hopper merits her own chapter, as does the trilogy of Porky’s movies from the 1980s (of all things).

As noted, each and every chapter feels like an unrelated essay on its subject, written by someone who has done extensive research and is able to share it in an uncensored but interesting and educational way.

Being fairly well-read on some of these subjects, myself, I didn’t spot any actual mistakes in the narrative other than the title of Tiny Tim’s LP, God Bless Tiny Tim—inaccurately mentioned in passing as God Bless You, Tiny Tim.

Instead, what I did catch was a considerable amount of history, minutia, and trivia that was new even to me. The chapters on old Hollywood, for example, were truly telling as far as their portraits of who was antisemitic, who supported fascists, etc. I mean, Walt Disney himself giving an annotated guided tour of his studio to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl? SMH

The music chapters are fascinating as well, and many of the rare songs mentioned from the early part of the 20th century can be found on YouTube. I used them as background to my reading of the book at times.

Another “can’t stop reading” chapter is “Ain’t it Grand to be Blooming Well Dead?” named after a once popular British song I remember from Dr. Demento’s radio show. The subject of this section is death itself, as in song, books, movies, and real pop culture life.

The chapter on “Icons of Political Incorrectness” introduced me to the incredibly named Major Metallus Lucullus Cicero Funkhouser, a fascinating and powerful man who worked as the official film censor of Chicago for many years. After discovering him here, I spent some time reading up on him online in newspaper archives and other various sites.

The Hedda Hopper story, toward the end of the book, is revelatory, and it’s my favorite part. Hedda had been an actress in the early days of talkies but defected to the newspapers early on, becoming the ultimate, equally influential rival to powerful gossip columnist Louella Parsons. She became a major celebrity herself, known for her extreme hats as well as her hoity-toity attitude. Behind the scenes, she was both hated and feared by Hollywood’s elite for decades, and yet they cow-towed to her on a regular basis. In this chapter, we learn of her fanatic anti-communist beliefs, her connection to FBI leader J. Edgar Hoover, and her abject praise for Generalissimo Francisco Franco (who, for you SNL fans, is STILL dead as I write these words).

I see that Anthony Slide is actually quite a prolific author, although many of the subjects of his other books don’t really appeal to me.

I am, however, quite impressed with his writing style, his research, and his expertise, and the book is worth a look for anyone interested in political incorrectness and long-forgotten (or censored) information.

If you’re easily offended, I feel sorry for you.

Booksteve recommends.

 

 

 

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