What Everyone Must Know About Television
With TV, you have let neither a demon nor a savior into your home. The set itself is only an appliance. On it you receive picture and sound that exploits intimacy to some degree. Watching regularly, you may develop a sense of connection with someone on the little screen. The virtuosity of the artists and technicians who produce TV programs, however, is concealed in the production process. As an art form television is lacking in power, except for the fact that it transcends time and space. Nowadays this is so taken for granted that no one pays much attention to it. TV is easy to access and is continuous in nature. For the user, after the initial investment of buying a set, TV is very inexpensive to watch.
Since the 1960s, theorists of the media and the arts increasingly have attributed the changes occurring in society and culture to what I call the forces of "technological determinism." This line of thinking has been underscored by attempts to analyze TV that have promoted misconceptions about the medium. Such thinking sees in television a mechanism that overwhelms human thought, sensibility, and will. W. Russell Neuman of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania points out that during the second half of the twentieth century both media and arts criticism have been dominated by Marxists. Trying to explain what they consider to be "the false consciousness of public enthusiasm for capitalist democracies," such critics "have attributed spectacular powers of persuasion to the mass media."1
Such thinking, moreover, long ago seeped outside the halls of our universities and now informs popular opinion extensively. In addition,