In Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Neil Postman familiarizes his readers to his main objective for his argument right away. His strategies to convince his readers of his claim are extraordinarily well and get across to the readers easily. Postman proposes that the public, without recognizing it, is losing its “autonomy, maturity, and history”. His thesis is that television is changing the way people interact by putting all public rhetoric into on-screen entertainment. He suggests that risks are high if the public does not notice television changing the publics view and that we need to try and regain control over it. First, Postman’s anger towards the way news is televised under the media-metaphor is presented in his first chapter, The Medium Is the Metaphor. He introduces the basic concept of news in the Age of Show Business. The author states, “This idea - that there is a content called “the news of the day” - was entirely created by the telegraph (and since amplified by newer media), which made it possible to move decontextualized information over vast spaces at incredible speed.”(8), saying that “the news of the day” is information given to the public that does not immediately affect the watcher’s life, but instead has little practical value. It exists only in a world associated with media, “The news of the day is a figment of our technological imagination.”(8), such as the telegraph or television. He suggests that the news and
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Today, Film and Television are among the most internationally supported commodities. Financially, their contributions are enormous: both industries are responsible for the circulation of billions of dollars each year. Since their respective explosions into the new media markets during the mid-twentieth century, film and television have produced consistently growing numbers of viewers and critics alike. Sparking debate over the nature of their viewing, film and television are now being questioned in social, political, and moral arenas for their potential impact on an audience. Critics claim that watching films or television is a passive activity in which the viewer becomes subconsciously
I think you summarized the aspects Postman touched perfectly about how television infiltrates our daily lives through religion, politics and education. I like most especially your point on how politicians are in the public eye. Postman’s claim about the view of politicians could not be described better. The television has a huge impact on our political process. Postman asserts that the characters of TV commercials are the partial cause of this since they are the vital analogies for political discourse in the U.S. He says commercials weaken capitalism (our economic system). He says by synthesizing desires rather than giving products to meet genuine needs, commercials destroy what is important for capitalism to work. For capitalism to work,
Saunders criticizes the megaphone, claiming it places priority on entertaining, profitable news as opposed to news that is educational or enlightening. Saunders furthers this claim by arguing that news media is habitually over-simplifying complicated issues, thus desensitizing the masses to stupidity and frivolity. Saunders’ essay is important because although it was published in 2007, it is still relevant (and will most likely be relevant as long as media exists). In fact, the points he makes in this essay are even more relatable now, as social media has increased greatly in popularity. Everywhere you look, there is a new “breaking story” about the Kardashians or the Jenners; and people accept this as real news! Saunders’ essay encourages readers to be critical of mass media and seek out undiluted, uncontaminated, earnest news
Before pinpointing what Postman means in his phrase, we can first clarify what he does not mean. Postman’s phrase, “the medium is the metaphor,” consists of a loaded word that, in the context of his book, necessitates clarification - metaphor. Postman uses the word ‘metaphor’ as opposed to ‘message’ because he believes that media does not truly communicate a message. “A message denotes a specific, concrete statement about the world. But the forms of our media. . . are rather like metaphors, working by unobtrusive but powerful implication to enforce their special definitions of reality” (Postman, 1985). Postman does not mean ‘the medium is the message.’
In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman uses an abundant amount of logos to argue his claim. The more that is read, the more difficult it is to dismiss his information. This is because of the consistent use of evidence presented in the form of logos. The entire book is incorporated with facts, statistics, dates, and general logical arguments. In chapter six, Postman stresses how television does not allow for the processing of thoughts. He states, “I should like to illustrate this point by offering the case of the eighty-minute discussion provided by the ABC network on November 20, 1983, following its controversial movie The Day After” (88). The discussion was broadcasted on television with intentions to have valued informational content, but failed miserably according to Postman. He argued this in a logical manner. The discussion lacked deep conversation and the speakers spoke in generalities, as the show did not allow an adequate amount of time. This is a great use of logos because it
Neil postman was a jack of all trades, he was an American Author, an educator at New York University, media theorist, and cultural critic. (PressThink 1) In 1985 Neil Postman published a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourage in the Age of show Business. The book provides a look at what happens when politics, journalism, education and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death Postman says that the content of a culture is contained in its communication, and that the content of communication is affected by the medium of communication. In other words, Postman is saying that a culture is defined by its connection of people, and the connection of people is afflicted by technology. Sherry Turkle is another author that has written a book called Alone Together published in January 2011. Sherry Turkle is an award winning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she focuses her research on human technology interaction. Alone Together is the results of Turkle’s nearly fifteen year exploration of our lives with technology, she describes new unsettling relationships between friends, family, parents and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community. There is a third author named Julia Angwin that has developed a book that connects with Postman’s argument. Julia Angwin is an award winning investigative journalist at a news organization called ProPublica. (About)
In their article “Moving beyond the 'Vast Wasteland'”, Laurie Ouellette and Justin Lewis critique how public broadcasting functions in the US. Liberal reformers hold to the view that television needs protection from commercialism. The liberal reformer view contains cultural and class hierarchies. They believe that public television is for the white, college-educated middle-class viewer who has “cultural capital”(Ouellette & Lewis, 96). As a result, funding for public broadcasting has gone primarily towards high culture and intellectual programs and not sitcoms or other popular forms of television. Ouellette and Lewis disagree with this, saying that these types of high-brow programming are not the only ones worthy of public investment. Instead, they argue that popular programs that are being commercially maintained also merit public support and investment (96). Rather than reserving public broadcasting for more educational programming, the authors argue that there is a more progressive solution that can incorporate popular media forms while still veering away from commercialization.
Neil Postman is deeply worried about what technology can do to a culture or, more importantly, what technology can undo in a culture. In the case of television, Postman believes that, by happily surrendering ourselves to it, Americans are losing the ability to conduct and participate in meaningful, rational public discourse and public affairs. Or, to put it another way, TV is undoing public discourse and, as the title of his book Amusing Ourselves to Death suggests, we are willing accomplices.
All throughout history we have used metaphors to describe people, places, events and emotions; so it is perfectly fitting to describe the mediums with which we project our ideas as a metaphor as well. This is Neil Postman 's basis for his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Television and other media outlets have conditioned us to accept entertainment in every aspect of life; but most of all it masks the state of public affairs and politics. Through his book, Postman begs that we recognize the ways in which media shapes our lives and how we can use them to serve us instead of hurt us. Broken into two parts, Amusing Ourselves to Death focuses on a historical analysis of media, then discusses the television media-metaphor in more detail. Postman examines how media has infected every aspect of public discourse by prizing entertainment as the standard of truth.
“How often does it occur that information provided you on morning radio or television, or in the morning newspaper, causes you to alter your plans for the day, or to take some action you would not otherwise have taken, or provides insight into some problem you are required to solve?... Most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action” (68). Postman defines this has a sense of decontextualized information. He suggests that while we feel connected to the information of the news of the day because it inspires opinions from us, we’re actually not. As the quote details, we cannot do much about the information we receive because we have no context in which to
“The whole problem with news on television comes down to this all the words uttered in an hour of news coverage could be printed on one page of a newspaper”. The average news cast is only twenty-two minutes long,and that's not nearly enough time to cover the days events.In Neil Postman’s essay “The News” Postman talks about the structure,content,and goals and results of a television news cast. The news can be compared to the theatres in terms of its structure. According to Postman, “Music takes us immediately into the realm of the symbolic, a world that is not to be taken literally.”
1.) Of this week’s reading the articles, The Medium is the Metaphor the author and Media as epistemology by Neil Postman draw on the fact that present American culture is entirely devoted to entertainment and today’s media-metaphor shift has led much of our public discourse to become nonsense when it does not sever its sole purpose to entertain. Postman also went on to explain on what he means by the term epistemology with the help of some words from epistemology.
Postman (1987) claims that television is an evil that destroys the purpose and complexities of public discourse. He argues that important issues are oversimplified and drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Chaffee and Metzger (2001) confirm this assumption by remarking the evolution of print and radio into television and television into new media. Establishing the similarities between Postman’s chief complaints about the television medium and the new media then rearing its ugly head. Chaffee and Metzger indicate the shift in the denotations of mass, media, and communication. With technological advancements, it is impossible to ignore the new media and its impact on modern culture.
In chapter three (page 105) McKee highlighted that the public sphere contains too much ‘spectacle’. “From a modern perspective, it seems that the public sphere promotes a ‘short attention span’ in consumers. Ideas aren't explored in detail or at length, they're packaged as thirty second grabs”. McKee also talks about us human beings, suffering from a curse of ‘soundbites’ (Slayden and Whillock 1999). The terms ‘short attention span’ and ‘soundbite’ are the two most popular terms in our discussions about the public sphere. This evidently show us that the appearance is more important to us than anything else and how much more we concentrate on how the media approach everything that is surrounding us, rather than having our personal opinions.
In Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, ?the news of the day? is viewed as ?a figment of our technological imagination? (7-8). He states that without the media to broadcast the events that take place daily, there would not be the concept of ?the news of the day? (7). Postman says that the news only exists because of our advanced systems of communication, making it possible for us to report the news to the public as it happens. Without these methods and tools, news would not exist the way it does. This is what Postman is implying when he mentions that the news is a ?media event? (8). He goes on by saying that ?we attend to fragments of events from all over the world because we have multiple media,? to convey his arguments of how