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May 07 , 2009

Too Bold for the Box Office

The Mockumentary from Big Screen to Small


Although considered a relatively new genre, the mockumentary has existed nearly as long as filmmaking itself and has become one of the most common forms of film and television comedy today. In order to better understand the larger cultural truths artfully woven into their deception, these works demonstrate just how tenuous and problematic our collective understandings of our social worlds can be.
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Too Bold for the Box Office: The Mockumentary from Big Screen to Small, Cynthia J. Miller has assembled essays by scholars and filmmakers who examine this unique cinematic form. Individually, each of these essays looks at a given instance of mockumentary parody and subversion, examining the ways in which each calls into question our assumptions, pleasures, beliefs, and even our senses. Writing about national film, television, and new media traditions as diverse as their backgrounds, this volume’s contributors explore and theorize the workings of mockumentaries, as well as the strategies and motivations of the writers and filmmakers who brought them into being.

Reflections by filmmakers Kevin Brownlow (
It Happened Here), Christopher Hansen (The Proper Care and Feeding of An American Messiah), and Spencer Schaffner (The Urban Literacy Manifesto) add valued perspective and significantly deepen the discussions found in the volume’s other contributions. This collection of essays on films, television programming, and new media illustrates common threads running across cultures and eras and attempts to answer sweeping existential questions about the nature of social life and the human condition.
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