What's more, the perception of truth rests heavily on the acceptability of the newscaster. It is that TV provides a new definition of truth: the credibility of the teller is the ultimate test of the truth of a proposition. As important as the choice of the proper newscaster is the choice of the proper music the news are embedded in. Another factor for the attractiveness of a programme is its brevity that makes coherence impossible.
All these point are requirements of an entertainment show. The viewer always knows that no matter how grave any news may appear, it will shortly be followed by a series of commercials that will defuse the import of the news, in fact render it largely banal.
This is a key element in the structure of a news programme and all by itself refutes any claim that TV news is designed as a serious form of public discourse. The result of all this is that Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world. What is happening here is that TV is altering the meaning of "being informed" by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation.
Nonetheless, everyone has an opinion about the events he is "informed" about, but it is probably more accurate to call it emotions rather than opinions.
It means misleading information - irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing. Postman claims that we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorence is always correctable.
But what shall we do if we take ignorence to be knowledge? Moreover, TV is unable to detect political lies, or so-called misstatements.
Postmans kleine Geschichte des Gebrauchwertes der Literalität (German Edition) - Kindle edition by Marco Sievers. Download it once and read it on your Kindle. Postmans kleine Geschichte des Gebrauchwertes der Literalität (German Edition) zu Neil Postman: „Das Medium der totalen Enthüllung“ (German Edition).
Many of them fall in the category of contradictions - exclusive assertions that cannot possibly both , in the same context, be true. Make the context disappear, or fragment it, and contradiction disappears. The fundamental assumption of the "Now This" world of news is not coherence but discontinuity. And in a world of discontinuities, contradiction is useless as a test of truth, because contradiction does not exist.
TV has become the paradigm for our conception of public information and has achieved the power to define the form in which news must come, and it has also defined how we shall respond to it. To top it all, television induces other media to do the same, so that the total information environment brgins to mirror TV. Huxley grasped that it is not necessary to conceal anything from a public insensible to contradiction and narcotized by technological diversions.
Even the church has recognized the power of television and has jumped on the new medium: shows with religious content are shooting up at incredible pace, there are present more than 30 television stations owned and operated by religious organizations. Having watched such religious shows, one can easily make two conclusions:. The first is that on TV, religion, like everything else, is presented as an entertainment.
Everything that makes religion an historic, profound and sacred human activity is stripped away; there is no ritual, no dogma, no tradition, no theology and, above all, no spiritual transcendence.
The second conclusion is that this fact has more to do with the bias of TV than with the deficiencies of these "electronic preachers". What makes these TV preachers the enemy of religious experience is not so much their weakness but the weakness of the medium in which they work. Not everything is televisible.
For the most part, "TV preachers" have assumed that what had formerly been done in a church can be done on television without loss of meaning, without changing the quality of the religious experience. There are several characteristics of television and its surround that converge to make authentic religious experience impossible. Our conduct must be congruent with the spiritual event. But this condition is not usually met when we are watching a religious TV programme.
If an audience is not immersed in an aura of mystery, them it is unlikely that it can call forth the state of mind required for a non-trivial religious experience. Moreover, the television screen itself is so saturated with our memories of profane events, so deeply associated with the commercial and entertainment worlds that it is difficult for it to be recreated as a frame for sacred events.
The television screen wants you to remember that its imagery is always available for your amusement and pleasure. Being aware of this, attracting an audience is the main goal of these "electronic preachers" and their programmes, just as it is for "Baywatch" or "The Late Night Show". Though their messages are trivial, or rather, because their messages are trivial, the shows have high ratings. Televisions strongest point is that it brings personalities into our hearts, not abstractions into our head. That is why God is merely a vague and subordinate character on the screen.
There is no doubt that religion can be made entertaining. The question is, by doing so, do we destroy it as an authentic object of culture? The danger is not that religion has become the content of television shows but that television shows may become the content of religion. Show business is not entirely without an idea of excellence, but its main business is to please the crowd, and its principal instrument is artifice.
If politics is like showbusiness, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are. In America the fundamental metaphor for political discourse is the television commercial. By substituting images for claims, the commercial made emotional appeal, not tests of truth, the basis of consumer decisions.
Indeed, the TV commercial has orientated business away from making products of value and towards making consumers feel valuable, which means that the business of business has now become pseudo-therapy. The television commercial has been the chief instrument in creating the modern methods of presenting political ideas. For one thing, the commercial insists on an unprecedented brevity of expression.
This is why it disdains exposition, for that takes time and invites argument. Short and simple messages are preferred to long and complex ones. The consequences may be that a person who has seen one million TV commercials might well believe that all political problems have fast solutions through simple measures. Some argue TV helps choosing the best man over party. The point is that TV does not reveal who the best man is. The reason has, almost entirely, to do with image.
Television commercials provide a slogan, a symbol or a focus that creates for viewers a comprehensive and compelling image of themselves. In the shift from party politics to television politics, the same goal is sought. We are not permitted to know who is the best at being President or Governor, but whose image is best in touching and soothing the deep reaches of our discontent. Just as the television commercial empties itself of authentic product information so that it can do its psychological work, image politics empties itself of authentic political substance for the same reason.
In the Age of Show Business and image politics, political discourse is emptied not only of ideological content but of historical content as well since television a present-centred medium permits no access to the past. It is not ignorance but a sense of irrelevance that leads to the diminution of history. Orwell envisioned that government control over printed matter posed a serious threat for Western democracies.
But he didn't foresee that tyranny by government might be superseded by another sort of problem altogether, namely the corporate state, which through television now controls the flow of public discourse in America. Today, we have less to fear from government restraints than from TV glut. For example, banning a book in Long Island is merely trivial, whereas TV clearly does impair one's freedom to read, and it does so with innocent hands. Television does not ban books, it simply displaces them. Politics doesn't prevent us from access to information but it encourages us to watch continously.
Just what we watch is a medium which presents information in a form that renders it simplistic, non-historical and non-contextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment.
Its popularity not only among kids but also among parents is due to its entertaining way of educating and to the belief it could take the responsibility of parents to look after their children. But "Sesame Street" encourages children to love school only if school is like "Sesame Street".
Which means that the show undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents. Differently from the class room, television does not promote or require social interaction, development of language, good behavior, asking a teacher questions etc. The main blaim of "S. As a television show, "S. It encourages them to love television. Moreover, it is entirely irrelevant whether "S. Television educates by teaching children to do what television-viewing requires of them.
And that is as remote from what a classroom requires of them as reading a book is from watching a TV show. Meanwhile, as a result of the electronic revolution, television forges ahead, creating new conceptions of knowledge and how it is acquired. Television has by its power to control the time, attention and cognitive habits of our youth gained the power to control their education. Every TV programme must be a complete package in itself.