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Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  820 ratings  ·  99 reviews
A total departure from previous writing about television, this book is the first ever to advocate that the medium is not reformable. Its problems are inherent in the technology itself and are so dangerous -- to personal health and sanity, to the environment, and to democratic processes -- that TV ought to be eliminated forever.

Weaving personal experiences through meticulou
Paperback, 376 pages
Published March 1st 1978 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1977)
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Sep 07, 2007 Evan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone.
A few ideas were so surprising that I had to put the book down and think about them for a while before I could read on.

Even though it was written thirty years ago, not a word has dated. Mander unwittingly analyzed not just television, but all electronic media, the ambient tech environment that we're in like fish in water. Even if you disagree with the title, his mode of thinking about how mass media work is so original that the book is worth it.

Unpretentious, nimble, broad-minded, and astonishin
the classic anti-tv book, well written and convincing. not merely a "television makes you stupid" diatribe, but rather a logical, compelling, researched argument against the medium and its effects on personal health, mental well-being, environment, and democracy. questions whether technology can ever really be inherently "neutral." probably more important now than when it was written three decades ago.

"television: a medium - so called because it is neither rare nor well done." ~ernie kovacs

"i wi
Mark Singer
Jul 18, 2010 Mark Singer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the effects of television on people
Recommended to Mark by: no one
Shelves: technology
I read this many years ago and need to do so again. Jerry Mander was a successful advertising executive who quit the business in the early 70's and tried to make a difference. In this book, he makes a strong case against television. Sounds crazy?

In my opinion, his arguments about the diminished capacity to reason, the harmful effects of artificial light, the narrowing of experience, the inherent biases and the one-way nature of the medium still hold up. I would have given the book more than 4 s
Philip Morgan
At times certain people display a sincerity and a congruence with their deepest beliefs that is truly amazing. And often this state is combined with a simplicity of presentation. And the cynical among us might be inclined to laugh. Test yourself on this point if you like. See this video of Fred Rogers testifying before the US Senate:

Did you laugh at him at any point? Think he was silly or goofy or a pansy? How did you feel at the end of his speech?

This bo
Aug 03, 2009 tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE - especially in the TV industry
As I've written elsewhere, probably in the Cognitive Dissidents Group, I put off reading this for 30 yrs. It came out in 1978 & I'd already stopped watching TV in 1969 or 1970 - one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, if I do say! Of course, saying that I "stopped watching TV" is, sadly, not as true as I'd like it to be given that there's usually a TV on in whatever laundromat I go to, in the bars I go to, etc.. There was even talk for a while of putting TVs on buses here in Pittsb ...more
I read this book probably 30 years ago and found it to be such an eye opener. I didn't have a TV for years after reading this, but, alas, did have one while my kids were growing up. However, because of this book I think I was able to make them aware of some of the insidious methods used regarding advertizing and mind numbing constantly bombarding them from the glowing tube.

They are now, I am proud to say, all avid readers and learners and none of them blind consumers. Thank you Gerry Mander for
Dec 18, 2008 Richard rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: DJ Big Rick Stuart, I think
I'd almost say this book was transformative, but I suspect I was already on the path towards eliminating television from my life. Mander's arguments provided justification, but the pandering idiocy of most of the stuff on the airwaves was already sufficient. At this point, I haven't watched a significant amount of television in about ten years -- I did enjoy some of the first season of West Wing at a girlfriend's place, but since then there's only been the sporadic Simpsons show once or twice a ...more
Alex Jeffries
Navigating this book was always going to be a minefield, as I bought it in the first place as someone with a television career and Sun Tzu's "know thy enemy" bouncing around my brain. Jerry Mander's arguments for the elimination of television are not easily refutable, and that's trouble (for me, for humanity, etc.). This book is a well-reasoned and researched dismantling of television, and the tendencies of our culture that paved the road for television's arrival. It was striking to see just how ...more
One of the three most important books I've ever read. This is more than an anti-television book. Along with Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto, it should be read by everyone to gain some sort of insight into why we, and society, are the way we are - and what we need to do to change it.
I love television and I love this book. The point about it is that it objectifies the experience of watching and actually allowed me to go ahead and love TV. Yes, it may have some dated arguments in it, but it lays down a fundamental questioning of an act most of us do every day.
Sep 11, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with intellect
Where do I start? My whole life I have been a TV addict. My mother used to advise me strongly against it, but I would never listen. Recently I vowed not to watch TV. I was doing well, only watching when visiting others who were watching it. After reading this book I am bound and determined to never watch it again. I am not easily swayed, but Mr. Mander's arguments are true and to the point. He talks about the effects of the ingestion of artificial light, to the hyperactivity of children, to the ...more
Hands down one of the best books I've ever read in my life. Jerry Mander's arguments are thought-provoking, rational, well researched and terrifying. After reading this book I see everything in my environment differently. Politics, homes, cleaning supplies, relationships, vehicles and jobs - I see them all in a new light. Modern media has effectively brainwashed the last three generations and turned Americans into drones; insatiable, product-consuming machines. I recommend this book to ANYONE th ...more
I could give this a hundred stars if I could. This book really gives deep insight on how television impacts our lives negatively. A couple of spots are difficult to read but after reading this book it was hard for me to watch television for at least a couple of months. It just didn't make sense to me. It still doesn't but the idiot box has lured me in every now and then. After reading this book, you will look at TV in a whole different "light".
I'm not convinced by arguments that go this far against television. The evils of network television is more understandable in this light, but television as a whole? Seems like throwing out the baby with the bathwater to me. But Mander makes more interesting and compelling arguments than any I've read/heard. It's a credit to his ideas that they hold even more true now, some 40 years after initial publication.
Sonja Warner
This was probably the most interesting book I've read this year. While I don't always agree with the author and he operates on some belief systems I don't share - he also makes a lot of very valid observations. This book brings up some very thought provoking issues regarding television and its effect on us and I'd highly recommend it. But bring your brain along! It's not "mindless" reading.
Jul 23, 2007 Cinco rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: TV fans, TV haters, everyone everywhere
Shelves: nonfiction, own, favorites
Incredibly fascinating, well-written and reasoned book about the problems with television. Like the author, I haven't stopped watching television (not entirely, anyway), but this book really challenged me to think about television differently. Highly recommended to everyone.
"...all technologies should be assumed guilty of dangerous effects until proven innocent."

Convinced. Converted. Confirmed. I knew my babysitter (the television) was ill equipped as a moral guide. And yet he influenced me day in and day out over a period of years. I even wrote an "Ode to My First Love" while in middle school. It referenced my undying affection for what I've learned is the very cancer of the society we live in, television.

Perhaps I am a little melodramatic but what does ring true
Mander is a particularly mesmerizing preacher. In the thirty years since its publication, the book's target has oozed across the cultural landscape, and we've all rolled over and died. Nonetheless, these arguments won't go away.
I can't remember specifically what the arguments were, but I remember they were good ones. Taught me about why televisions no good.
Jul 28, 2008 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Valerie by: Marcia
If only I were stronger, I would heed these arguments. But I am weak, my TV stays. I blame Joss Whedon.
memorable, thought provoking, you may find yourself on a TV fast after reading this book.
Nathan Janes
Unplug the signal!
Of the four arguments, I found the fourth (The Inherent Biases of Television) the most interesting. I think that all four arguments are relevant to television today, but also to other forms of media that were not in existence at the time of his writing. We had already given up television prior to reading this book, but up until this point I hadn't found any writing on it that went beyond the "TV makes you stupid and violent" idea. There have been a few technological advances that make some parts ...more
I know - people read the title and say "as if!" (and yes, I do watch television, though fairly rarely and mostly on DVR/DVD)
Such food for thought. He suggests that TV narrows our world, it changes our way of thinking to a floating, passive way, it is run only by a few corporations (therefore they are choosing what we should see), it's full of advertising which again subverts our thinking (though DVR and even recording shows has taken the bite out of that), it contributes to the obesity of our na
Braden Canfield
In the first book I read by Jerry Mander, “In the Absence of the Sacred”, he discussed the implications of losing the wisdom and knowledge of indigenous populations who have lived in connection to the earth successfully for thousands of years before Western-based technologies rapidly transformed our life on earth. One of the points he made in that book was that we have no way to evaluate whether or not a new technology is beneficial to our lives, or the world at large, before it becomes adopted ...more
Branden S.
well after reading this book there alot of ideas not just 4 arguments, but even more there are arguments inside arguments.I liked the book.but i think its a book that you cant be read it all in one sitting you have to space it out. so you can understand it even more then. the book Four arguments of the elimination of t.v has 4 arguments through out the book and its not really a story its more of a personal view on the elimination of TV. the arguments he gives that i agree with is how much TV an ...more
First of all, I should point out that I have not eliminated television from my life.

Nevertheless, this is a truly remarkable book. Funny: I first bought it way way back, and gave it to an instructor I had in a broadcasting class. I thought I was being ironic and funny. Then, before giving it to her, I flipped through it – wound up buying a second copy for myself.

The technology has changed a lot since this book first appeared in the 1970s, but I think its arguments remain valid.

Author Mander neve
Loved it! It took me forever to read, because I had to read a bit, talk about it incessantly to anyone who would listen, digest it for a bit, then read some more. Although I first picked it up because it's written by Jerry Mander (which I thought had to be a pseudonym, but apparently not), it's certainly one of my favorite books that I've read for a long time. Even though it's from 1977, I still find all of his points to be relevant, and even more so after the introduction of the Internet and th ...more
Read this years ago in college. In the rapidly changing media information environments that people are soaking in today I think there are some good warning roots to take from this book. We're not going to be changing the force of screen time any time soon, but there are a few things to be found here to remember when comparing what it was like to grow up forty years ago to growing up today in how a person absorbs and reacts to the time and methods they use to encounter information.
This book hasn't aged well. Largely anecdotal and largely concerned with TV's one hegemonic position in American life, there are arguments to be made for at least the significant reduction and alteration of the nature of television, but this book either can't see them because it was written decades ago, breezes over them, or tags down on them but in a way that's unsupported by research. I recommend it only as a window into the past.
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“The program is only the excuse to get you to watch the advertising. Without the ads there would be no programs. Advertising is the true content of television and if it does not remain so, then advertisers will cease to support the medium, and television will cease to exist as the popular entertainment it presently is.” 11 likes
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