Alec Perkins Phelan Seminar Weekly Paper 3.31.

2008 I found it interesting that someone who was as deeply involved in the media system would be so critical of it, however his knowledge of the manner in which the system achieves its goals provides additional authenticity and makes him a perfect critic. Because Mander has seen the worst parts of television, he is in a stronger position to criticize it. The earlier parts of the book seem concerned more with society in general than specific arguments against television, especially his points on economics. However, television is one of the most significant American icons, and Mander presents TV as being representative of our culture, as well as being responsible for it. TV was not directly responsible for the concepts of the American Dream, consumerism, and the distancing from nature, however it was the perfect tool for disseminating and reinforcing those ideas. Also, it was and still is controlled by the very people who benefit the most from those concepts. Many of his points revolve around greater societal issues that seem to extend well beyond the scope of TV. "The moment people move off land which has directly supported them, the necessities of life are removed from individual control" (11819). This sounds more like part of an argument for local, community controlled food and goods production than the elimination of television. Mander, like Mumford and others, discusses the assimilation of people into the machine. “In the end, the human, like the environment, is redesigned into a form that fits the needs of the commercial format" (120), and gives numerous examples, such as native american tribes, a native on an island who now has to buy everything he used to have, and the creation of suburb-people to fill the rising developments. In the case of

American culture, television was the mechanism for this assimilation, due to its very nature. His point that TV is an active medium (132) seemed confusing at first, since it it considered one of the more passive things to do. However, I realized that passive refers specifically to the interaction with the TV on the part of the user, and that active applied to TV in that it demanded attention, calling out to the viewers. This is contrasted with print ads or moderns text-ads on websites that are much more easily ignored and do not actively attempt to draw the user's attention away. Television advertising is often louder than the program itself, sometimes obnoxiously so, in order to stand out and grab attention. Television as a medium is often criticized for being detrimental to imaginations, as it is all about showing people, instead of setting up something for their imaginations to elaborate on, likely due to its use of our two primary senses for communication, sight and sound. The anecdotes Mander presents at the beginning of his argument on the health effects of television are not unfamiliar. I have noticed myself being mesmerized by television, watching programs without even realizing the arguably excessive amount of time spent doing so. (I manage to accomplish this even without a TV!) The health effects Mander discusses are much more targeted toward TV as a direct source of the problems itself. Many of them, both psychological and physiological, are due to the sedentary and isolatory nature of the television viewing experience. TV watching requires a darkened room, which, when combined with working in office or factory environments, means people do not receive the right amount of light to suppress melatonin production, which signals to the body to "wake up." Mander comments how odd it is that millions of people can be doing the same thing simultaneously, yet completely isolated from one another. The

unidirectional manner in which people are fed TV content, along with the suburban emphasis on the individual instead of the community, unsurprisingly lead to the psychological issues and feelings or attitudes of disconnection with the natural world. What would Mander say about the Internet? Do all of the arguments still apply? It is similar in that it is still a filtered experience instead of "authentic" and the health effects are no doubt similar, if not worse thanks to carpal tunnel syndrome. Unlike TV, the experiences, however filtered and distanced from the real thing, can be unique, or even targeted, due to the Internet's two-way, participatory nature. Those experiences are still biased in some way, given that they are at best second hand, though the diversity of content allows for the taking in of multiple biased view points.

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