Before Madonna, before Marilyn, there was Mae. The impact of Mae West - through her films, attitude,...
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 glad to see me?") - continues to reverberate through American popular culture more than fifteen years after her death. In Too Much of a Good Thing, Ramona Curry examines the interplay between West's bawdy, worldly persona and twentieth-century gender and media politics.Although West has remained an important figure, her image has fulfilled varied cultural functions. In the thirties, she was a lightning rod for debates over morality and censorship. In the seventies, the complexity of her portrayal of gender made her a controversial figure for both the gay rights and feminist movements. Curry not only analyzes the symbolic roles West has occupied, arguing that the entertainer represents a carefully orchestrated transgression of race, class, and gender expectations, she also illustrates how icons of pop culture often distill contested social issues, serving diverse and even contradictory political functions. A pithy and innovative look at what Mae West means, Too Much of a Good Thing is must reading for fans, film buffs, and anyone interested in how popular culture evolves and circulates in the United States.