Understanding Society, Culture, and Television

By Paul Monaco | Go to book overview

Television . . . we have less to fear from government restraints than from television glut; that in fact, we have no way of protecting ourselves from information being disseminated by corporate America."12

Here we are then! The real problem is that television is part of that evil monolith called corporate America that Postman perceives as single- mindedly pumping images, sounds, dramas, sitcoms, sports, news, public affairs, and talk shows into an anesthetized public. Getting to the heart of his argument that television victimizes us all, Postman concludes that "we have no way of protecting ourselves from information disseminated [on TV]."13

But can anyone seriously argue that Pat Robertson 700 Club, Murphy Brown, Hard Copy, N.Y.P.D. Blue, ABC's Monday Night Football, MTV's Singled Out, Court-TV, a natural history documentary on the Discovery Channel, or a classic movie channel are the same "universal curriculum" ( Gerbner) and "information disseminated" ( Postman)? Are we to believe that some single, monolithic entity called corporate America is orchestrating the entire range of TV programming as a unified assault upon human sensibility? Such a line of thinking has nothing to do with the realities of the artistic, economic, cultural, and societal complexities of television at the dawn of the twenty-first century.


NOTES
1.
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man ( New York: Signet Books, 1964), p. 269.
5.
Albert Bandura and Richard R. Walters, Social Learning and Personality Development ( New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1963), p. 49.
7.
Michael W. Cronin, "Oral Communication Across the Curriculum," Seminar, Montana State University, Bozeman, May 12, 1997.
8.
Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillmans, eds., Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1994), p. 31.
9.
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business ( New York/ London: Penguin USA, 1986), p. 9.

-72-

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