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Powers, Richard Gid. G-Men: Hoover’s fbi in american popular culture. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Pr. 1983. 
Added by: joachim (6/29/16, 11:38 PM)   
Resource type: Book
Language: en: English
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 0809310961
BibTeX citation key: Powers1983
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Categories: General
Keywords: "War on Crime", Comic strip, Crime comics, Hoover. J. Edgar
Creators: Powers
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Pr. (Carbondale)
Views: 13/472
“Calling the Police! Calling the G-Men! Calling all Americans to War on the Underworld” was the sign-on of the first radio pro­gram to portray the agents of the FBI as action heroes. Thus began the remarkable collaboration between the government agency and the merchants of popular culture that was to continue for over forty years.
In G-Men Richard Gid Powers explores the cultural forces that permitted the rise and fostered the fall of the nation’s secret police as national heroes. He examines popular attitudes toward crime from the standpoint of functionalist (Durkheimian) theory and surveys the FBI’s image in popular entertainment from the thirties to the recent “Today’s FBI” as a vicarious ritual of national soli­darity to explain the popularity of the action detective formula. Soundly based on extensive research and interviews, the book pro­vides an account of how the FBI and the mass entertainment indus­try were able to transform the bureau and its biggest cases into popular mythology.
Hoover and his FBI became national heroes through identifi­cation with the action detective hero of crime entertainment. Hoover’s popular culture role made him and his bureau sacrosanct symbols of national pride and unity, but in turn made it very diffi­cult for them to do anything that would not conform to the public’s preconceptions about action heroes. Powers shows that the dy­namics of popular culture are integral to an explanation of the collapse of the bureau’s reputation following Hoover’s death. Had Hoover and the popularizers of the FBI not attempted to turn the popular culture G-Man into an embodiment of traditional Ameri­can virtues, the illegal activities that came to light following Hoover’s death would have been excused as inconsequential in the larger context of a hard-boiled “War on the Underworld.”
G-Men examines a classic case of the manipulation of popular culture for political power. Seldom in American culture has such manipulation been so successful. As Powers states: “At the same time Hoover was casting his shadow over American public life his G-Men were the stars of movies, radio adventures, comics, pulp magazines, television series, even bubble gum cards.” But he finds that Hoover—far from controlling his own destiny and the power of the agency he had built—was created, shaped, and then destroyed by the dynamics of popular culture and the public expectations it generated.

Table of Contents


The Public Enemy and the American Public: Prelude to the New Deal (3)
The Crime War of the Thirties: The Myth of the Gangster (33)
Hollywood and Hoover’s Rise to Power: the Myth of the G-Man (51)
The G-Man and the Censors: G-Man Movies and the 1935 Ban on Movie Gangsters (65)
The G-Man and the Public: the Cultural Function of the Action Detective (74)
The FBI Formula and the G-Man Hero: the Battle over Control of the FBI’s Public Image (94)

The FBI Formula and John Dillinger: A Case Study of Bureaucratic Heroism (113)
Hoover’s Assault on Popular Mythology: the Comic Strip G-Man (139)
Public Hero Number One: J. Edgar Hoover and the Detective Pulps (161)
The Junior G-Men: the FBI and American Youth Culture (188)
The FBI in Peace and War: The Shift in the Bureau’s Image (207)
One G-Man's Family: FBI Public Relations during the Fifties and Sixties (229)

Notes (293)
Bibliography (319)
Index (351)

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