Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

 
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Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman?s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media?from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs?it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining controlof our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

Customer Reviews:

  • Brilliant
    Nutshell review - I always thought that television was the thief of time but according to Neil Postman it is actually much worse. The success of television as a medium has changed the way in which we are able (and willing) to absorb any information and that is in the format of sound-bites and the 15 second commercial designed to entertain rather than inform and educate. But, asks Postman, how can serious subjects such as religion, politics or education be reduced to passive, one-way entertainment nuggets without destroying much of its essential content? Obviously it cannot and hence we are left largely with irrelevant entertainment and, much worse, a reduced ability to even think about the problem. A Brave New World indeed ......more info
  • An interesting commentary
    Neil Postman does an excellent job explaining why he feels that television has degraded communication in our society. If the message is affected by the medium, it may well not be the same message, or only a simplistic rendering of a deeper thought.

    He goes on to discuss, how society today communicates as well as how it now educates. Since TV has done so well, to grab children's attention, the educational system is modeling itself after it. Now instead of bringing ourselves to the messenger (as they did in the time of the written word). We expect the messenger and the message to come to us. Of course it has to be packaged in a fashion we will accept: Entertainment.

    Children and Adults are being trained to expect entertainment out of the most mundane or tragic events.
    Consider the nightly news, its sound bites and sound track. The worst events of the day are being pre-packaged to make them more palatable or interesting, so viewers won't change the channel.

    Additionally, we are being deprived of information we do need to be concientious adults in our society, not by any "Big Brother" restricting this information, but by the shear glut of information that clouds what we truly need to function. If you think of advertizing, how much of it discusses the features of the product versus how much advertizing emphasizes psychological points of how great we will feel if we buy this product.

    Given the date of the book, he only touches on the medium of the internet. However, when I've reviewed usability texts on internet design, they are clearly designed for the television watching audience. There is great emphasis on sound bites and organized groupings of information, clearly designed for those of us with short-TV-based attention spans.

    The big question, is where does all this lead?...more info

  • The Audio Was Great
    If you like people like Colin Wilson, you will love this well written and well thought out book. It is like listening to Colin Wilson without the references to literature but the lessons are intact....more info
  • Still-Relevant Warning: Dystopia Ahead!
    Postman reminds us that there are two prominent 20th century dystopias -- Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World -- and argues forcefully that despite having side-stepped Big Brother we are letting Soma and the Feelies in the back door. His argument revolves around television especially, warning that this innocuous amusement carries with it the power to destroy us without even a little bit of coercion. Think about the commercial: In 30 seconds it promises a simple solution to every problem in life, suggesting that the way to paradise is 19.99. We are quite amused by these seemingly harmless commercials, but in fact they warp our view of reality to such an extent that real life is sucked out of us.

    The book is a couple of decades old, so we're missing any analysis of more recent developments in entertainment media, but its prophecies have been proved true many times over since its publication. MTV culture, 24-hour cable news and political pundits, the iPod, and YouTube more than vindicate Postman's warning: We are amusing ourselves to death, soaking in so much vacuous media that we are no longer living real lives. It would be interesting to see his reaction to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, as they lambast the same ridiculous system he does, but from within the amusing medium rather than from outside it.

    A particularly nice feature of the book is its media history synopsis. Postman recounts the rise of the printing press, the invention of "the daily news," the impact of the telegraph and television, and so on. Only by looking at history can we hope to imagine a world different from today's, and therefore only by looking at history can we hope to change the world.

    But this history betrays what I take to be the author's overzealous loyalties to print. I accept that books (real ones, not something by Danielle Steele or Bill O'Reilly) are vastly superior to primetime tv or the latest Michael Bay flick (though maybe not to masterpieces of film), but it looks like Postman is still holding out hope for a thoroughly modernistic logocentric utopia. One of the best points of this book is that the medium itself (and the culture surrounding its use) constrains and even tells messages on its own -- anyone ever wonder why televangelists offer quick fixes for all of life's ailments, just like tv commercials? And while Postman has critiqued the message of TV -- that nothing is so bad that it can't be fixed in 30 minutes, that a mental world is more real than a physical one, and so on -- he doesn't adequately analyze books. If all we're counting on is print, which seems to be Postman's alternative to today's entertainment culture, we're still not living in the real world because we're still living disembodied mental lives rather than real, physical ones.

    That criticism aside, please read this book. His analysis ranges from the Second Commandment to Sesame Street, is acceptably readable, and exposes a huge problem. Read this book and never watch the news again....more info
  • Intrinsic Value of the Medium
    Neil Postman posits that the medium of communication has value inherent and intrinsic in itself. Postman argues that the medium conveys shades of meaning that are not spelled out in any intentional communication. Sometimes the medium can convey meaning wholly independent of the message itself. The concept that the medium has value and meaning that is both dependant and independent of the communication conveyed is supremely logical.

    After exploring the power of a metaphor Postman explains why the medium is like a metaphor. (Postman, 1985 p.13)"...the introduction into a culture of a technique such as writing or a clock is not merely an extension of man's power to bind time but a transformation of his way of thinking - and, of course, of the content of his culture". The technique, or the medium, transforms the very mindset or pattern of thinking by itself without any other variables like message added.

    There have been other communications theorists who have put forward the concept that the medium had a value independent of the message. Most notable in my mind of these theorists is Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan took the value of the medium to heights that Postman does not attempt. McLuhan proposed and argued that the medium was in itself the message. McLuhan argued that inherent meaning of the medium was so great and overbearing that the message that was conveyed was by nature the result of the medium rather then any intent on the part of the communicator.

    Postman position is in great contrast to McLuhan regardless of its similarities. Similar between the two theorists is recognition that the medium has value and meaning independent of the message itself. Also similar is the concept that medium changes the culture and the individual mindset. (McLuhan 1964, p.151)"The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message." Postman argues a very similar thought when says (Postman, 1985 p.11)"In Munford's great book Technics and Civilization, he show how, beginning in the fourteenth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, and then times-savers, and now times-servers." Both philosophers argue the medium conveys a message. The difference is that McLuhan argues that the medium is the primary message Postman argues that understanding the meaning and message inherent in the medium allows us to control the message.

    The example of the message just being a byproduct of the medium with the metaphor of the robber and the meat, we know that McLuhan saw the stated message secondary to the medium itself. Postman on the other hand argued that the medium was important and gave meaning to the message it was more in the sense of a metaphor and could actually aid in the understanding of the message rather then hinder the message.

    Postman argued further that although it was not natural with work the medium and the message can be partners rather then a either or equation. (Postman, 1985 p.14)"And yet, such digging becomes easier if we start from the assumption that in every tool we create, an idea is embedded that goes beyond the function of the thing itself."
    The view of the medium that Postman offers us is by far and away the most hopeful that I have found thus far. If we can by understanding the medium clearly communicate our message then we have a clear roadmap in determining our own life and decisions. A message of personal control through knowledge and work is far more personally fulfilling then trying to realize that we have little or no impact on a situation....more info
  • Deadening Amusement
    We who work with young people today sometimes sense the acute need for cross-cultural communication! While they live in the same nation, speak the same language (granted some latitude), and apparently embrace many of the same values as their elders, today's youths clearly live in a distinct milieu. As with any culture, the first step to establishing the dialogue basic to both teaching and preaching. involves understanding it as well as possible.
    Several studies have been published during the past few years which serve a useful sources, opening pathways for us older folks to pursue in our hunt for insights into "youth culture." First, we must understand its language, its mode of communication. In the opinion of Neil Postman, the educator who three decades ago published Teaching as a Subversive Activity, television has become our era's truly subversive, mind-molding medium. It's today's lingua franca. Thus he argues, in Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin Books, c. 1985), that the electronic media, particularly TV, have degraded American culture. Speaking "as plainly as" possible, Postman analyzes and laments what he judges "the most significant American cultural fact of" our times, "the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television." This development absolutely alters "the content of politics, religion, education, and anything else that comprises public business" for they must conform, like athletic contests breaking for commercials, to TV's dicta (p. 8).
    TV's triumph consummates what began a century ago, when the print-based culture, basic to reflective thought and exposition, began to caving in to "the Age of Show Business," (p. 63), wherein electronic-powered media (e.g. telegraphed "news" and photographed "pictures"), shifted folks' attention from substance to style, from realities embedded in first-hand experiences to images and distractions transported from afar. In the process, an addictive drug, "entertainment," began insisting that politics, education, and religion be packaged in visually attractive ways. The "image" became more than pre-eminent--it effectively displaced reality!
    In Postman's opinion, what we know about ourselves comes primarily from TV. Consequently, "how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged" (p. 92), and "in courtrooms, classrooms, operating rooms, board rooms, churches and even airplanes, Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other" (p. 92). TV's deleterious impact clearly appears when religion turns electronic. TV always entertains, so religious programs must also entertain. Consequently, religion becomes entertaining rather than enchanting. This is a critical distinction, for Postman insists religion should usher us into sacred realms of reality through deep, being-level enchantments. When we're entertained, we're simply diverted by yet another "show." Inevitably, TV sermons are "not anything like the Sermon on the Mount" and televangelists exude "good cheer" while promoting affluence" (p. 121), as does the rest of TV. But the tube can't tolerate calls for self-denial or self-sacrifice.
    Education, too, suffers the corrupting waves of the electronic media. Postman, a professor of education, worries that teaching degenerates to "an Amusing Activity" rather than a genuinely educative process. Apart from sleeping, watching TV consumes more of America's children's time than any other activity! It's emerged as the main source of young people's ideas and ideals; more than anything else, it provides the ethical instruction embraced by this nation's young people. Packaged in a vacuum without prerequisites or traditions, focused on platitudes rather than perplexities, committed to simple story-telling rather than reasoned exposition, TV certainly "teaches"--and it teaches powerfully that media-molded youngsters cannot cope with traditional ways of learning, reading, thinking, communicating.
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    ...more info
  • call me old fashioned but I still think what we hate will ruin us, not what we love
    There are two dystopic novels in the canon as it relates to my experience in a New York City high school: 1984 (1949) by George Orwell (the original home of Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth) and Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley (a frivolous world controlled by fancy toys and a drug called Soma).

    "In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

    This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right."

    The quote above comes from the forward of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) and is one of my favorite ways to explain two of the scariest novels I have ever read. It is also a quote I read either in high school or college, suggesting that Postman's reach is farther than I would have thought before graduate school when I realized I had seen his writing (at some point) before.

    What, exactly, is Postman so worried about? Television. Postman's core argument is that, like the printing press before, the television has fundamentally and irrevocably changed the way society lives, interacts, and even thinks. Postman's fear, as his mention of Huxley suggests, is that these changes will create a frivolous, complacent society that will not need to be oppressed with Orwellian devices because they do not know they are being oppressed in the first place.

    As was the case with Technopoly, Postman makes a lot of interesting points here (in a lot of ways, it felt like reading the same book twice just replacing the word "technology" for "television" depending on which one you are looking at) but very few points that I could wholeheartedly embrace. Twenty-plus years after its original publication, Amusing Ourselves to Death is being touted as more relevant than ever before. And yet I can't help but think, if the book is so relevant and so accurate, shouldn't society as we know it have collapsed by now?

    For example, Postman dedicates a whole chapter to how politics and indeed our very understanding of politics has changed now that television is used to broadcast political commericials and debates. Could a man like Taft (weighing in at around 300 pounds) be elected in this day and age? Postman thinks not. And perhaps that is fair. But having seen the outrage over the 2000 (and 2004) election results, and the huge turnout just recently to elect Obama--I can't take Postman's pessimisstic view. Society is changing, yes. Television was part of that change, yes. But neither of those things mean we are going to start taking Soma and spouting aphorisms like "Ending is better than mending."

    Many parts of this book are interesting. Broken into two parts, the first offers a thorough examination of life in the age of the printing press that appeals to my inner history buff. Postman's lamentation on the advent of tel-evangelism was also fascinating though more sociologically and psychologically than as the Huxleyan caution Postman is trying to put together.

    Maybe it's already too late for me. Maybe I have already bought into Postman's Age of Show Business and am now beyond hope. But I don't think so--the key word there being think. As Postman notes:

    "What afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking."

    Again, perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I believe people are thinking now more than ever--partly because of the technologies that Postman is so wary of. With the Internet and blogging and even Twitter, there is so much more interconnectivity and awareness now than there was before that, once again, I think Postman might have it wrong. Huxley might prove right in the end but for now my fears lie with Orwell because, for my part, I still know exactly what I'm laughing about and I'm positive I'm still thinking....more info
  • Plug in ignorance
    It isn't just the media that Postman has commented on. He has a wide range, but this is one of the better pieces he has done and one of the best on the media.
    Postman states by the pure nature of television it limits discourse and discussion and allows for only the entertaining of the masses. He cites the Lincoln-Douglas debates as to a means of extended discourse and points to a much more literate society during the Revolutionary War period.
    Not only is the problem with television of a less literate society, but the access to the media is limited to the very wealthy (Murdoch). According to Postman the wealthy opinions and agendas are set in the media and by the time it gets air play the masses are voting on it.
    "namely, the corporate state, which through television now controls the flow of public discourse in America."
    The book was used in a Media Criticism course I had in grad school. I suggest you read as many of Postman's works as you can, but this is one of his better ones.
    ...more info
  • Huxley's Vision Manifest?
    Neil Postman's 1984 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, is an engaging, if not depressing treatise on why Aldous Huxley's dark vision of humanity's future as thoughtless, mind-numbed entertainment-gluts in his 1932 novel, A Brave New World (Huxley reassesses the future world he envisioned in 1958 with the essay A Brave New World Revisited) was more accurate than George Orwell's vision of an oppressive, book-banning, power-hungry authority asserting vast control over the masses as outlined in Orwell's equally dystopic 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. While the prevention of the Orwellian nightmare occupied the generation preceding--and to only a slightly lesser extent since--the year 1984, it was Huxley's future, Postman argues, that we should have been--and still should be and forever remain--on guard against. "[I]n Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to . . . adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think." (Foreword, vii)

    Postman's book is a cause-and-effect cultural polemic, warning us that public discourse is dissolving into "the arts of show business" and "vast triviality" (p. 5 and 6), and he puts the blame squarely on television. While the argument is worth making and the debate worth having, his philosophical waxing leaves me wanting to say the least. For example, he opines that a fat man could not run for President of these United States today because the "grossness of a three-hundred-pound image (on TV) . . . would easily overwhelm any logical or spiritual subtleties conveyed by speech." (p. 7) There is no acknowledgment from Postman that obesity is a serious health concern and in an era in which those health concerns were and are well known, it is not unreasonable to infer than an obese person lacks personal self-discipline and will power, two characteristics reasonably desirable in the leader of the free world. To counter Postman directly, the shape of a man's body may, in fact, be quite relevant to the shape of his ideas. Additionally, in a world of nuclear proliferation and persistent and consistent armed conflict, it can be argued that an unhealthy President poses a national security threat.

    Many of Postman's premises underpinning his theses seem to be ill-formed or just plain illogical. Take for example his surprising suggestion that "half the principles of capitalism . . . are irrelevant" and "that economics is less a science than a performing art." (p. 5) Economics at its core is the study of how societies allocate their limited resources, and to reduce this to a performing art, even hyperbolically, undermines the argument being made. The economics of capitalism are far too regarded to simply be carelessly sacrificed on his rhetorical altar without considerably more evidence than Postman provides. He offers only the uncredited observation that "American businessmen discovered . . . that the quality and usefulness of their goods are subordinate to the artifice of their display." (p. 4) While peripherally true, this has little bearing on the relevance of capitalism or the rigors of economic study. Perhaps Postman's own public discourse should be elevated.

    Similarly, his contradictory suggestion that "people of a television culture need `plain language' both aurally and visually" (p. 46) is patently absurd. On the one hand, Postman rails against television for dumbing down our public discourse, then on the other, suggests dumbed down discourse is all a television culture can handle. Perhaps a wiser argument could be made favoring elevated discourse in our television programming rather than presuming those that watch television are too stupid to understand it.

    I have cited but a handful of examples in Postman's book of how his thesis is weakened by seemingly plausible but ultimately misleading arguments. But the same can be said of his thesis as a whole. Public discourse in this country was not weakened by the advent of the television; it was weakened by the advent of weak public discourse. Television is not the cause of weaker public discourse, it is the result of it, notwithstanding Postman's unpersuasive intimation (chapter 2) of a media-induced epistemological shift (e.g. we no longer communicate through symbols carved on cave walls and I dare say we are no worse for having lost that mode of communication and arguably better).

    Postman provides little evidence that television has damaged America's body politic or retarded the growth of our intellectual discourse, public or otherwise. The contribution of television to historic, citizen-based changes such as the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam and Iraq wars and the protests those wars spawned, the environmental movement, and even the end of the Cold War deserve discussion in any examination of media and politics, yet is completely absent in this brief volume. Postman's dissertation about how the pre-television age empowered our citizens fails to acknowledge any of America's infamous atrocities (slavery, Native American genocide, etc.). It would be erroneous to assign sole responsibility for any of these social events to a single dominant form of media, but Postman seems to do just that with regard to our modern ills, of which there are not only plenty, but plenty of causes. In largely ignoring the relationship between media and the social events of the day that also define "the television culture," Postman's arguments for media influence seem both irrelevant and na?ve.

    Television is a reflection of society and none of society's ills can be cured by simply breaking the mirror. As Aristophanes famously said, "Youth ages. Immaturity is outgrown. Ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever." Stupidity is as old as the human race and as long as stupid people exist, there will be stupid shows to watch on television. Does anyone really believe public discourse in this country can be elevated by simply getting rid of the television?

    [NOTE: For all my criticism of this book, it is worth noting that Postman's history of the written word in America (Chapter 3: Typographic America) is fascinating. It alone would have done more for advancing the debate over the deterioration of public discourse in this country than the sum of Postman's largely sophistic postulates and it alone is worthy of the two-star rating.]
    ...more info
  • "To Take Arms Against a Sea of Amusements" (p. 156)
    In Amusing Ourselves to Death, social critic Neil Postman takes aim at the role that TV plays in degrading the quality of public discourse in the United States.

    Postman's central argument in AOTD is that US citizens are allowing the government to take away their rights because the citizens are not sufficiently well informed to oppose the government. Postman maintains, therefore, that it is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that represents the nightmare in which we live; Postman says that, in Huxley's world, "...there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one" (p. vii). As Postman sees it, it is TV (and the useless ocean of trivia that TV broadcasts) that has created a passive, uninformed American populace.

    There are many things to like about AOTD. The book is ambitious, in that its 163 pages contain both a media history of the U.S. and a discussion of the media's effect on the United States' intellectual climate. Another aspect that I enjoyed (as a college professor) was Postman's discussion of how educators increasingly face pressure to entertain in the classroom; I think that any teacher can relate to this material.

    Postman has a great, involved discussion on the nature of television that will make readers think; TV is "...a way of understanding the world that is not problematic, that we are not fully conscious of, that seems, in a word, natural. ... a way of thinking that is so deeply embedded in our consciousness that it is invisible. ... Twenty years ago, the question, Does television shape culture or merely reflect it? Held considerable interest for many scholars and social critics. The question has largely disappeared as television has become our culture" (p. 79).

    Other aspects of AOTD are not as positive.

    The writing is a mixed bag. At times, Postman shows a wonderful, dry wit. For instance, he discusses a publisher who maintained that "...a newspaper in Boston was necessary to combat the spirit of lying which then prevailed in Boston and, I am told, still does" (p. 36). There are several witty jabs in the book that often take the reader by surprise. Unfortunately, Postman can also lapse into academic "gobbledygook" that can be very tiresome.

    A general criticism of AOTD would be that Postman does not do enough to acknowledge information that runs counter to his thesis that TV destroys U.S. culture. I think that Postman greatly overstates the case when he discusses how much more literate the U.S. public was in the 1700s and 1800s. After all, in the 1900s there were dramatic increases in IQ scores among U.S. citizens. (This is the so-called "Flynn Effect"). How did this happen if our minds were rotting under TV's influence?

    In the end, Postman's greatest accomplishment is to write about the "big" issues facing our world; I suspect that relatively few readers will find themselves unmoved by AOTD. As to whether Postman is correct or not, each reader will have to decide for him- or herself.
    ...more info
  • The Magic of Imagery
    Ah! What a succinct and clear explanation of how the world of imagery has overtaken the world of writing and how this change has affected the human psyche. Postman elaborates, with hundreds of examples, how TV has changed the way we think and act in today's world. He compares it, with no small authenticity, with the words of the likes of Lincoln and Douglas and how people in those times were ready to spend an evening listening intently to speeches delivered by these great men. Not now, not today: we are slaves of the Show Business syndrome now.
    Read this book and you will be 'shocked' and 'awed' by the reality it presents....more info
  • Televisionys Huxleyan Influence on Culture
    Postman does not have a problem with television when it is used for its purpose: to entertain. The trouble arises when television is the medium culture uses for its news, religion, politics, and education, turning all these activities into forms of show business. The result is that culture is trivialized and people loose their capacity to think, eerily similar to Aldous Huxley's vision in `Brave New World'.

    Being a visual medium, television limits ideas that are communicated to those that are simple and change constantly. Unlike the printed word, television is unable to perform an in-depth analysis of a news story or discuss complex political theory. In addition, television impacts the expectations children have in a learning environment and the teaching options available to educators.

    Although written nearly 20 years ago, the assessment of America's culture from an historical perspective as well as reasons why watching television is a wasteful habit is still very relevant. Like all of Postman's books, the writing style is clever, stimulating, easy to read, and contains quite a few fresh ideas in only 163 pages. Along with `The End of Education', this is one of Postman's best books, and one most readers should find both insightful and enjoyable....more info

  • Another "Thin" Classic From Postman
    This is Postman's most famous and widely read book (as is attested by the more than 100 customer reviews here on Amazon) and it is, as other reviewers have suggested, a classic in the Media Studies field. The songwriter Roger Waters was inspired enough to title his album "Amused to Death" after reading Postman's book (although Postman states in one of his later works that he himself would never stoop to listening to the likes of a "Roger Waters").

    Instead of giving the usual plot synopsis here as other reviewers have done, I would like instead to perform for you a Media Studies reading of the book. That is to say, instead of reviewing the book's contents, I would like to draw your attention to the medium and format of the book itself, and in doing so, point out what this reveals about Postman as a philosopher.

    To begin with the most important point: there are no pictures. Anywhere. And not only is this true of Amusing Ourselves to Death, it is true of every single one of Postman's books. This should alert us to something very important here about Postman: he is iconophobic. He is engaged in a battle against images of any, and every, kind. Not even Marshall McLuhan was so antipathetic to the use of images and illustrations, for his very first book, The Mechanical Bride, is a series of commentaries upon advertisements. In the age old battle of the Word vs. the Image -- a battle which goes way, way back before the twentieth century to the Iconoclastic debates amongst the Greek Byzantines whose iconophobes were in fact influenced by the aniconism of Islam, an entire religion which, like Judaism, had been based upon a rejection of images -- Postman, in this tradition, definitely aligns himself on the side of the Word against the iconophiles, be they Catholics or Hindus or lovers of comic books, or whomever.

    Also, you will not find any references to works of art of any kind in this book. Postman apparently has an antipathy to painting and imagery of any kind whatsoever, be it "classical" or electronic. It is important to point this out because it reveals, in the tradition of Harold Innis, Postman's essential "bias" in this book. Indeed, Postman's dialogue with Camille Paglia, published in an old issue of Harper's, underlines this point, for Paglia is as much an iconophile as Postman is an iconoclast. "In the beginning was the Word," Postman quotes, as though to clarify his own personal theology, before proceeding onward with his dialogue with Paglia.

    The next thing to notice about the book is its brevity. It is very short, as in fact, are all Mr. Postman's books, for Postman has been quoted as saying that he does not believe in writing long books, and that if one cannot express oneself in two hundred pages or less, then one has no business writing a book. The bibliography, accordingly, is also short, and so apparently Mr. Postman did not feel the need to read many books in order to write this book.

    For Postman really only has a single point to make here, and it is an important point which he argues persuasively and eloquently: television is taking over our culture, and all our thought patterns in every aspect or division of our culture is taking its cue from the syncopated, discontinuous and ahistorical "mentality" of television. How this has affected our reading habits, and whether those reading habits still continue, albeit in a changed manner, Postman fails to address. For people have not stopped reading books; instead, they continue to read books, but their expectations of the book have changed. The brevity of Postman's book is itself perhaps an example of what happens to sustained intellectual discourse in the Electronic Age: books get shorter because our attention spans (Postman's included) have shrank. Nobody wants to wade through books on the scale and magnitude of Spengler's Decline of the West or Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit. I notice, furthermore, that the sorts of books which Postman exhibits in his Bibliography are, one and all, short books.

    Thus, here is the secret of Postman's book: Postman himself suffers from the very same attention deficit disorder that he castigates others for having suffered at the hands of Electronic Society.

    Hmm. One would expect a professor of Media Studies who was as well read and thoughtful as Postman to engage our attention for a while longer. If this book is the greatest thing Postman ever wrote, then we must confess, alas, that Postman's work does not contain a single magnum opus on the level of a Gutenberg Galaxy or an Understanding Media. Perhaps this fact in itself is evidence of a general decline in intellectual and literary ability in our culture during the latter half of the twentieth century.

    The reader should not understand that I am saying that there is anything wrong with Amusing Ourselves to Death. But we should learn to understand its limitations in order to appreciate its place in the pantheon of Media Studies classics, upon which list, after all is said and done, Amusing Ourselves to Death places relatively low.
    --John David Ebert, author Celluloid Heroes & Mechanical Dragons: Film as the Mythology of Electronic Society ...more info
  • Best social commentary ever written!
    If you want to understand our world, your kids, your life, and why things are so messed up, this is a good place to start. It will motivate you to make big changes in your life....more info
  • Important read
    This book asks questions that we need to be asking but aren't. How can we not at least question the media and technology that we take in like oxygen? It's an important read and I recommend it to anyone who isn't apathetic. ...more info
  • An Excellent, Acessible Book
    Postman makes a convincing argument about the effects of commercial television as America changes from a print-based culture to a visual one. The book is divided into two parts. The first gives an analysis of the media today, and the second provides examples of how television has drastically changed curricula in schools, altered the way our elections are conducted, and even affected how we practice religion. The author's thesis is that all of these activities must be done theatrically and within certain visual constraints in America today. Although Aldous Huxley, who is cited several times, makes the initial, dire prediction about where our society is headed, it is Postman who gives specific examples of how Huxley's predictions have been fulfilled.

    Because this book is intended to be accessible to as many people as possible, Postman keeps the communication jargon to a minimum, which makes this book both an enjoyable, easy read as well as a book that makes one ponder complex issues. I definitely recommend it to everyone, especially those in the teaching and communication professions....more info

  • Desperate Networks
    The cover art of headless viewers watching television says it all. My only brush with the late Neil Postman came when he spoke at the university I was attending in the northwest. A breezy east coaster, he was unaware of the need to step on eggs. During the questions, one woman said, "Mr. Postman, how can we help children have self-esteem?" to which he replied, "I don't want them to have self-esteem; I want them to esteem something other than themselves."

    After the stunned silence I and a few others rose and started clapping; it was very much as if life had been returned to Pepperland in Yellow Submarine. I've been clapping inwardly ever since, as when I read this book.

    There are hundreds of reviews of this book, which created a stir everywhere. Everyone (except the people running TV) seems to have read it. Most readers find it smooth going. However, those who don't want to tackle the book can still wrestle with the ideas. In Postman's essay collection, Conscientious Objections, he replies to the question "Why are books so long?" with the answer that they don't have to be, and as an example gives a short version of this book.

    The basic thesis is that along with George Orwell's 1984 in which civilization lapses into a dystopia (opposite of a utopia) ruled by oppression and violence, there was the opposite vision in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that society would be destroyed by indulgence in pleasure. Postman says that while you can make a good case for the first view, the second is in full swing. Now if only the desperate networks would read this book and (re)turn to making good TV....more info
  • Outstanding book - must read
    One of the best books on the danger posed by entertainment to our civic community....more info
  • Wonderfully insightful, must-read for Americans
    This is easily one of the most influential books I've ever read. It is a follow-on of sorts to Postman's earlier book, Technopoly, in which he argued that the USA was the first-ever society that could be described by the title -- a society with no culture apart from the tools it uses.

    In this book, Postman opens by comparing and contrasting Orwell's (1984) and Huxley's (Brave New World) visions of the future and asserting that it was Huxley who was more correct -- that we would not be tyrannized to death by Big Brother but amused to death by Bread and Circuses.

    Backed up by many statistics and insightful anecdotes, Postman traces America's shift from a word-based to an image-based culture, in which we as a society are being rendered more and more incapable of engaging in serious public discourse on complex issues because we have been trained for arguments to be "won" by sound bites.

    While many parents are leery of "too much entertainment" on television and seek to limit daily consumption to the news, Postman argues that this is exactly backwards -- that as an image-based medium, television is perfect for entertainment, and not much else. That when the boob tube seeks to package itself as capable of conveying meaningful information (e.g., the daily news), it is at its worst. When an entire culture mistakenly believes it can abandon word-based media for an image-based medium to carry on its serious public discourse, culture death is a real possibility.

    I can't recommend this book highly enough....more info
  • The Postman Rings Once
    This book takes a while to get going because this dude is like a PHD in literature and therefore his prose is elaborate and his paragraphs must stand up to academic scrutiny and I'm thinking. 'What A Screaming Bore !' By the time I finished the book I felt it was a masterpiece even tho I disagreed with a primary point. He lays the historical background of public discourse down brick by brick so you can better see how evolving espitomologies have changed the communicative landscape, That's what I would call the tedious part of the book but it lays a solid foundation for what's to come. The key point he was trying to make and the point I do not entirely agree with is the medium ( television) is hopelessly flawed. It isn't what's on so much as it doesn't matter what's on because television is intrinsically incapable of producing meaningful communication. I think introverts like myself get more out of television than extroverts but that angle is not explored because the research was not available 20 years ago. Postman hoped that the content of broadcast television would degrade even further to drive more folks away from the tube. That has not ocurred. I'd say it's held a 80/20 trash to useful content ratio but viewers like myself have become more empowered. I use my television as more of a video on demand machine anyway as I suspect many others do. We're not at the mercy of advertisers to the extent we were 20 years ago and that is a giant step in the right direction....more info
  • Disinformation Means Misleading Information--Misplaced, Irrelevant, Fragmented or Superficial
    "In watching American television, one is reminded of George Bernard Shaw's remark on his first seeing the glittering neon signs of Broadway and 42nd Street at night. It must be beautiful, he said, if you cannot read." John Ackermann

    Neil Postman in his book,'Amusing Ourselves To Death', looks at the impact of television culture on the way we live our lives, understand our present and future and how we gather our information. We need to understand the effects of living in a television society. As he says "We are in danger of creating a trivial culture that will spawn a race of people who adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think." Once we are a television society, we have lost control. We can attempt to control television's influence when we understand the dangers. Neil Postman suggests that Americans ask 'what we are laughing about and why we have stopped thinking.' We have all heard the phrase, The Dumbing of America.

    Roger Waters, of 'Pink Floyd' read Postman's book, and he was so taken with the message that one of the best CD's of this era was written. The song 'Amused To Death" tells us the story.

    The little ones sit by their TV screens
    No thoughts to think
    No tears to cry
    All sucked dry
    Down to the very last breath
    Bartender what is wrong with me
    Why I am so out of breath
    The captain said excuse me ma'am
    This species has amused itself to death
    Amused itself to death
    Amused itself to death"

    Ackerman tells us that "Television has altered the meaning of "being informed' by giving us disinformation. Disinformation means misleading information;misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information. Information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads us away from knowing. The television industry did not deliberately set out to misinform us, but when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the result."

    Over the past fifty years since the advent of television, we have allowed conversation and communication to become trivial, and to lead into entertainment. TV is a medium of entertainment. TV is a series of programmed images and pictures. Unlike a book we do not have to concentrate to obtain the meaning of a picture. This is the mechanism by which TV can make any subject meaningless and trivial. It is possible to "amuse one's self to death", considering that the first thing to go will be our vision of reality and to comment intelligently. And this is why Roger Waters CD "Amused to Death" had the power to unleash our subconscious. We are living the album. We are all slowly amusing ourselves to death. We are entertaining ourselves into a stupor. The best things on television is junk, and no one is threatened by it. We do not measure a culture by its output of junk, but by what we claim as significant.

    I would think that several minutes of murder and violence would be enough for many sleepless nights. We watch the news because we know that the 'news' is not to be taken seriously, that it is all in fun, so to speak. Everything about a news show tells us this; the good looking newscasters, their pleasant banter, the music that opens and closes the show, the film footage, the humorous commercials. These suggest that what we have just seen is no cause for crying. A news show, is a format for entertainment, not for education or reflection. No one goes to a movie to find out about government policy or the latest scientific advances. No one buys a record to find out the baseball scores or the weather or the latest murder. But everyone goes to television for all these things, which is why television plays so powerfully throughout our land. Television is our culture's principal mode of knowing about itself. Neil Postman says, "For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage, but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada."

    We know that no matter how grave news may appear, we soon shall see commercials that will devalue the importance of the news. This is a key element of news and that allows us to believe that television news is not designed as a serious form of public communication. Our teenagers in particular are taught to believe that television is entertainment, so that the nightly newscast should not be taken as a serious responsibility.

    This past political season is a prime example of the myriad of issues that have not been examined, but the entertainment value of the candidates has been examined ad nauseam. One reason why the political contest starts as soon as the President is sworn into office. What have we become, why are we laughing, the Dumbing of America is here.


    Highly, Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-14-08...more info
  • Mr Postman
    This great book arrived faster than I expected. It was inexpensive and in good shape. Need I say more? ...more info
  • A Good Deal!!
    This is exactly what I wanted and in perfect condidtion as well, which is an added bonus. Thanks!...more info
  • Back to the Future
    Sound thoughts on why true political discourse is dead, and how that media induced condition is likely to affect our lives....more info
  • Critique
    Neil Postman is an extreme critic against television and its epistemology that differs from the typical typographic mind of modernity. In the first part, he successfully argues that the medium influences the message. However, this is no novelty: philosophy is better written in books than with emails, a dictionary of foreign words is easier produced on a book than a telegraph. Additionally, his analysis of the typographic mind of America seems extreme. Postman is blunt: before television America had the greatest mind, after television America has a shallow mind that just wants to be entertained. While the entertainment industry has undoubtedly shaped epistemology, it seems that more factors should be taken into consideration to analyze one's mind. Logic and reading are only one aspect of intelligence. One can argue that visual, musical, environmental types of learning can be as good as other forms. What seems to have changed might be people's desire to be entertained more often than they used to be, because entertainment is everywhere. In the second part, it seems flabbergasting that a media theorist and cultural critic is unable to find anything positive about television. One might feel that he just dislikes any means of communication that differs from print (i.e. television, photography, telegraphy, smoke signals). It seems that Postman is nostalgic for modernity. He critiques postmodernity, where epistemology is more fragmented, and one's mind is more visual than typographic. However, to be fair to Postman, his analysis of how entertainment has affected public discourse is enlightening. It is indeed a new type of communication that has monopolized the public discourse, and one needs to be aware of the medium being used to communicate a message, because, as we know, the medium influences our epistemology.

    Positively, the way he contrasts Huxley and Orwell's fear of an oppressive society is fascinating. He states, "There are two ways the spirit of culture may be shriveled. In the first -the Orwellian -culture becomes a prison. In the second -the Huxleyan -culture becomes a burlesque" (155). It seems that those two opposite types of oppression could meet in their extremes. Especially when technological media has been so prosperous, it is easy to think of a society that would use the information and entertainment produced by this technological media to control and oppress its people, without them even being aware that their freedom has been taken away. Reading this book made me understand how the shift from modernity to postmodernity might have taken place within the media. Postman made me realize that to understand the media helps to understand how a society thinks and functions.

    Negatively, I think that Postman gives the print too much credit. The print is not the only resource for one to improve her mind. Additionally, print has brought some negative consequences to the mind. One does not need to use and improve her ability to remember if she can always write down information. Postman needs to realize that books are not the primary way of communicating information now. Therefore, instead of rejecting this new media, it seems that I should explore how I could use it the best way I can for my purposes....more info
  • Interesting, but...
    This is a very interesting book where the author builds a solid argument about the "downfall" of culture as we know it ever since we've had access to any sort of communication technology that came after the printing press (he condems the use of the telegraph and anything that came after it, but in his point of view, the TV is the worst invention ever created).

    I can't say I agree with him completely because it's impossible to turn of the TV. I don't think that the solution is to ignore ourt modern screens. Instead, the idea is to change what we see on TV, educate ourselves in the way we recieve what we get from the media.

    But Postman is right about the "show era" we live in. I think that his argument about our modern "show buisness" era is great.

    My recomendation is to read this book (because it's good) but be careful and read it with a critical eye....more info
  • Thought-provoking
    Great treatise on the idea that television turns all of life into entertainment and undermines other forms of communication. That serious issues like politics, religion, education and news are nothing more than brief sound bytes, fed to us in tiny but dramatic spoonfuls before turning tail and going on to something else, and that this disconnected, fragmented barrage degrades its significance and desensitizes us over time. He particularly laments the fall of the written word, and those of us who love to read and appreciate the importance of it probably concur. He surprised me with his theory that contrary to what most people - including me - assume, it's not the junk tv that poses the threat, but the so-called 'serious', pseudo-intellectual stuff that is really just junk dressed up as something meaningful, and that that is more harmful than junk that doesn't pretend to be what it isn't. It was a powerful argument and although I'm not sure I agree with it 100%, the point was well-taken. ...more info
  • It's The Today Show-- Starring George Orwell and Aldous Huxley
    I will be brief about this. Neil Postman's book AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH is simply outstanding. As a detailed intellectual analysis, it shows just one reason for the non-book reading, Fox news-watching, anti-intellectual climate that currently pervades the United States in 2008.

    The causes are many, but have a common thread--television--a medium which has insinuated itself into the mindlessness of popular culture--so much so that any ignorant, but photo-friendly fool or front-man (one old, or younger) along with his right-wing, neo-con, neo-liberal cohorts and advisors can TWICE ascend to the highest levels of political power in the U.S.

    Can anyone read this book and not partially understand the devolution of critical reasoning that has produced such a total debacle of political and governmental competence--all of which were based on carefully crafted lies and smooth media presentations??? From lies about Saddam Hussein's WMD's or his link to Al-Quieda, to the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, even to the outrageous stupidity of Kansas creationists. (If ANY of these people are the products of "intelligent design", God help us all!)

    The culpability is readily seen in glib campaign promises about political "change"--which is ALWAYS trotted out at EVERY election cycle by EVERY slick politican in their sixty-second ads or 60 Minute interviews (which only proves just how stupidly gullible and mindless American voters have become.)

    But Postman was right about Huxley--and wrong about Orwell. While the corporate masters feed the multitudes the utter mindlessness of reality television shows, info-tainment, and religious programming as predicted by Huxley, the thinkers and readers and the intellectuals in this society have been and are presently being subjected to an Orwellian nightmare of total information networking and surveillance. The thought-police are alive, busy, and growing like cancer on the body politic--monitoring computers, chat-rooms, e-mails, credit card purchases, library check-outs, medical, dental, and insurance records, even casino visits; using RFID's, GPS tracking, and even satellite and digital tv's for surveillance--all as authorized by the USA Patriot Acts. Books may not YET be banned (or burned ala Farenheit 451), but those who read them will be watched and monitored.

    Both U.S. history and the FBI's COINTELPRO shows that many of these people will be set-up, run-down, arrested, and imprisoned--while the masses happily monitor their trials and phone-in their votes via some reality television show--perhaps called American Idolator, or better yet, American Heretics. ("Cops" and "Big Brother." are already taken.)

    One million U.S. citizens are currently on the Department of Homeland Security's watch list. ONE MILLION!!! Can you feel the heat??? If not, don't worry...be happy. It's all coming soon to more people like you. Be sure to look for it. It's gonna be Hot, and one hell of a witch-hunt!!!

    ...more info
  • Intrinsic Value of the Medium
    Neil Postman posits that the medium of communication has value inherent and intrinsic in itself. Postman argues that the medium conveys shades of meaning that are not spelled out in any intentional communication. Sometimes the medium can convey meaning wholly independent of the message itself. The concept that the medium has value and meaning that is both dependant and independent of the communication conveyed is supremely logical.

    After exploring the power of a metaphor Postman explains why the medium is like a metaphor. (Postman, 1985 p.13)"...the introduction into a culture of a technique such as writing or a clock is not merely an extension of man's power to bind time but a transformation of his way of thinking - and, of course, of the content of his culture". The technique, or the medium, transforms the very mindset or pattern of thinking by itself without any other variables like message added.

    There have been other communications theorists who have put forward the concept that the medium had a value independent of the message. Most notable in my mind of these theorists is Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan took the value of the medium to heights that Postman does not attempt. McLuhan proposed and argued that the medium was in itself the message. McLuhan argued that inherent meaning of the medium was so great and overbearing that the message that was conveyed was by nature the result of the medium rather then any intent on the part of the communicator.

    Postman position is in great contrast to McLuhan regardless of its similarities. Similar between the two theorists is recognition that the medium has value and meaning independent of the message itself. Also similar is the concept that medium changes the culture and the individual mindset. (McLuhan 1964, p.151)"The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message." Postman argues a very similar thought when says (Postman, 1985 p.11)"In Munford's great book Technics and Civilization, he show how, beginning in the fourteenth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, and then times-savers, and now times-servers." Both philosophers argue the medium conveys a message. The difference is that McLuhan argues that the medium is the primary message Postman argues that understanding the meaning and message inherent in the medium allows us to control the message.

    The example of the message just being a byproduct of the medium with the metaphor of the robber and the meat, we know that McLuhan saw the stated message secondary to the medium itself. Postman on the other hand argued that the medium was important and gave meaning to the message it was more in the sense of a metaphor and could actually aid in the understanding of the message rather then hinder the message.

    Postman argued further that although it was not natural with work the medium and the message can be partners rather then a either or equation. (Postman, 1985 p.14)"And yet, such digging becomes easier if we start from the assumption that in every tool we create, an idea is embedded that goes beyond the function of the thing itself."
    The view of the medium that Postman offers us is by far and away the most hopeful that I have found thus far. If we can by understanding the medium clearly communicate our message then we have a clear roadmap in determining our own life and decisions. A message of personal control through knowledge and work is far more personally fulfilling then trying to realize that we have little or no impact on a situation....more info
  • Postman says today's students are stupid...and tells why
    Ever wonder why you can't stop watching TV to pick up a good book and read - Postman will tell you why - you can't! It's not your fault; you've been conditioned by television to NOT THINK - reading is antithetical to your mind-numbing existence that seeks only entertainment and amusement. Want to prove Postman wrong - read this book!

    Seriously, Amusing Ourselves to Death is a must read for every thinking Christian - or every Christian who wants to think deeply about the world around them. Postman hits the nail on the head with his assessment of the current condition of the state of man and the incredible (but silent) impact television has had on reshaping the way that we process information and contemplate truth - television has reprogrammed our epistemology - our manner in which we understand things, the concept of what knowledge is. Television bombards us with images, entertains us with useless facts, removes us from the immediate concerns around us to far away places, and ultimately makes the concerns of life, in a word - silly. What we don't realize is how this manner of "thinking" has affected and transformed our ability and the manner in which we proclaim the Truth of the Gospel - to a generation that can only sit for three minutes at a time - just visit your church's youth group and see for yourself what condition our culture is in!

    I would suggest this book to any student from about the age of sixteen and up - and all the way up to anyone who's grown up with a television in their home! It's not an easy read - on a "difficulty" scale of 1-10, I would put this as an 7 or an 8, but it's worth the effort. The book is 163 pages in length and can be ordered online or found in most bookstores. I have the Penguin Book edition which retails for $14.00.
    ...more info
  • Judge a book by its cover
    Just today I logged on to one of the biggest news channels' website (CNN) and on the front page under "Popular News" was the following headline: "Is that Miley Cyrus flashing her bra on the Web?" I had just finished my second reading of this book and it seemed like a stark reminder of what Neil Postman was talking about over 20 years ago, how television has drastically changed our culture and redefined everything in our society from news to politics, education and even religion. I don't know of any book written during my lifetime that is more socially relevant and whose message is more important to be read and understood by the general public.

    In Chapter 6, "The Age of Show Business", Postman writes, "To say television is entertaining is merely banal. Such a fact is hardly threatening to a culture, not even worth writing a book about. It may even be a reason for rejoicing. Life, as we like to say, is not a highway strewn with flowers. The sight of a few blossoms here and there may make our journey more endurable." He goes on to point out that the problem is not that there are entertaining shows on television, but that in order to accommodate itself to the demands of television, *everything* must be presented as entertainment. In order to generate ratings, advertisers and ultimately revenue, no subject is too serious to be presented in any way other than the one that attracts the most viewers. When the local news reports about a murder, it has no relevant meaning to our lives and it's not told so much to inform us of the tragedy of a murder but because it is the most exciting and what people want to see. News producers have a motto for this, "If it bleeds it leads."

    Probably the most alarming example Postman cites is how television has changed politics and political discourse. This is where the transformation from a word-based media to an image-based media is felt the most strongly. Politicians have realized that the content of what they say is now largely irrelevant compared to how they appear, how they present themselves. Postman uses the example that when Ted Kennedy made a run for the presidency, Richard Nixon offered him the following advice: "Lose twenty pounds." Nixon had been in politics most of his adult life and knew the name of the game well, that one's ideas, beliefs, actions and words are now almost completely irrelevant in a world where nearly everyone has started getting their information from television only. Before Mike Huckabee entered this political race, he lost over a hundred pounds. If you look at photographs of presidents throughout our history, you notice that most of them certainly never got anywhere in life because of their looks and some of them are downright ugly men. Political races are now completely decided in the arena of television and their coverage of it has become absurd and embarassing. This is the change that Postman has tried to point out, that a literate culture that depends on the printed word for information and communication creates a vastly different culture from one that depends on images, ten second soundbites and information that has no context or relevance to anyone's life, like what Miley Cyrus or Paris Hilton is up to.

    It has been over twenty years since Neil Postman wrote this but his ideas are even more relevant today. This book should be read and understood by everyone but it mostly falls on deaf ears. I think it was Mark Twain who said that the man who doesn't read has no advantage over the man who can't read. Television is now an integral part of life not only in America but in Europe, China and pretty much any other developed nation. This would not be a problem but, as Postman points out, one of the nasty side effects of television is that it has degraded literacy rates, so that every year we hear that people are reading less and less. People and specifically children spend an alarming amount of their free time watching television and to get them to read you practically have to force it upon them. Once in a while a book like Harry Potter will become a hit but for many children and even adults that was the only book they purchased or even attempted to read in an entire year. We hear that children in this country are performing worse every year in school but the finger is never pointed at the obvious culprit because we hear about this on TV....more info
  • Shakespeare is Full of Quotes
    A careless reading of "Amusing Ourselves to Death" will reveal a string of cliches about the modern era of industry and sense of participation in it: that our politicians are image-focused, "news-of-the-day" is typically useless, and our preachers and teachers are entertainers primarily. This book is hack, if only in the sense that the ideas he presents were of grave concern to Plato. Postman takes that (1) truth is given form by rhetoric, (2) which is defined by the mode of expression, (3) and although historically authors were aware of the distinction between speech, image and text, with the rapid accumulation of new forms of meda we are no longer conscious of how they shape our dialogue, (4) and via the transformation of discourse into image-driven entertainment we are losing the context of content.

    If any of this sounds familiar, it is for the same reason that Shakespeare is full of quotes. His ideas have such weight that they have successfully defined the scope of media studies. But perhaps the most insidious nature of television and the Entertainment Age is its ability to package criticism of it into entertainment itself. VH1's extraordinary "I Love the 70's" took B-celebrities commenting on those who have become B-celebrities and the outlandishness extremes of entertainment. To take Postman seriously, it's to understand media studies is not merely studying what's on television, but what is television for....more info

 

 
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