Understanding Society, Culture, and Television

By Paul Monaco | Go to book overview

7
Television and Advertising

McLuhan, Bandura, Gerbner, and Postman all have contributed significantly to how our culture commonly regards television. They provide perspectives that are basic to the contemporary criticism of this medium. It would not, however, be difficult to come up with the names of scores of other prominent thinkers and writers who hold ideas similar to theirs. At its heart, negative criticism of television is based upon the notion that humans are rendered helpless and hapless before the TV set. Television is perceived as powerful, hypnotic, and addictive. Television will hook you and hold you. The machine and its technology are capable of undermining our critical faculties. Hence, TV reigns havoc upon society and culture at large, and our relationship to TV is perilous. But this entire line of thinking poses a fundamental question: Are we really TV's victims, or has television simply become the handiest of scapegoats for contemporary cultural criticism?

The prevailing model for interpreting television's relationship to its audience is one in which viewers are defenseless. But this line of thinking ignores the complexity of anyone's relationship to whatever he or she sees and hears. The dynamic between any media and its audience is quite complex. To unravel that dynamic, let us focus on that form of communication in which a message is aimed directly toward a target audience, namely advertising.

All advertising demonstrates several characteristics, including being dependent upon repetition. The short length of advertising spots means not only that they come and go rapidly, but also that they are available to

-75-

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Understanding Society, Culture, and Television
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1- Storytelling and Television 1
  • Note 13
  • 2- Television and the Aesthetics Of Power, Virtuosity, and Repetition 15
  • Notes 25
  • 3- Common Contemporary Themes 27
  • Notes 35
  • 4- Agendas, Politics, and Television 37
  • Notes 45
  • 5- Globalization and Television 47
  • Notes 56
  • 6- Wellsprings of Our Discontent With Television 59
  • Notes 72
  • 7- Television and Advertising 75
  • Notes 85
  • 8- Television and Government 87
  • Notes 97
  • 9- Art for Whose Sake? 99
  • Notes 111
  • 10- What Everyone Must Know About Television 113
  • Notes 124
  • Afterword 127
  • Note 128
  • Bibliography 129
  • Index 137
  • About the Author 143
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