Is pop entertainment recession-proof?
Movie ticket sales are up. Book buyers can't get enough of Malcolm Gladwell. What makes pop entertainment recession-proof?
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At one of the big cable channels, a new program is in the pipeline -- it is all about rich people. The producer's boss says now that everyone hates rich people, they've really got to make the show more about, well, non-rich people.
Did studio executives back in the 1930s give Frank Capra and Busby Berkley the same kinds of notes on their movies?
How do we want to be entertained during these hard times?
"As the financial crisis really deepened,I was noticing that books about finance, books about money seem to be making the list, and I assume this is because people wanted to understand what was going on around them."
Jennifer Schuessler is a staff editor at "The New York Times" Book Review. She was wondering what people were reading during the Great Depression, if they were also obsessed with how the market went wrong. She dug back in the archives for the paper's best seller list, and she was surprised.
"You see much more of a jumble of things, books like 'You Must Relax' which was a best-selling anti-insomnia manual, and 'Orchids on Your Budget' and Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' which was actually a best-seller in 1939. It is kind of disturbing to think about a lot of people sitting down to read that book. You also had self-help books, like 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.'"
But the fiction best-sellers of the time, like 'Gone With the Wind' weren't about the Depression.
"It isn't really until 1939, when 'The Grapes of Wrath' was the number one best-selling novel that you see what was going on in the country really reflected in fiction. And maybe that is just a sign of how long it takes for the news to sort of trickle into the novel."
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