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Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It
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Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  522 ratings  ·  48 reviews
In this utterly original look at our modern "culture of performance," de Zengotita shows how media are creating self-reflective environments, custom made for each of us. From Princess Diana's funeral to the prospect of mass terror, from oral sex in the Oval Office to cowboy politics in distant lands, from high school cliques to marital therapy, from blogs to reality TV to ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2004)
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  522 ratings  ·  48 reviews


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Riku Sayuj
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: media, chomsky-like
Modern Media & "Outrage Porn"

Rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population.

This triggers a kind of echo of bullshit pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems.

It’s no
...more
John
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
This was a frustrating book. It is built around an essay he wrote which I thought was excellent. He should have left it at that. There were many gems in this book, but it was poorly argued, almost incoherent, unfocused, and most importantly--pointless. He states in clear terms that the Christian worldview is nonsense and those that follow it are delusional or victims of habit. He never states why any of it matters. What does it matter how people interact with the world if there is no ultimate pu ...more
Frank
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
He's best on the typologies of the real (19-20); from "real real" to "edited real real" to "staged observed real repeated" and beyond.

More valuable points:

"The best way to achieve the insulational state of numbness is to be swamped with routine activities." (186)

Habit "in a mediated adulthood that dims down the horizon of options through immersion in a numbing routine allows many of us to feel relatively real." (189)

Overreach:

"[R]epresentational technologies have colonized our minds. . . . To
...more
Hillary Johnson
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hillary by: Kevin at Open Books Chicago
This is an amazing book which has seriously changed the direction of my planning for PhD studies. It is written, as another reviewer keenly observed, in the voice of the best sort of teacher, one who challenges, cajoles, and sometimes infuriates and never ever leaves you feeling quite the same after being in their classroom.

Dr. de Zengotita anticipated the reader's desire for a solution to the dilemma he describes yet none the less, leaves us without one, as impossible to formulate. How are we t
...more
Patrick
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Eye-opening ideas, riveting writing. There were moments when I caught myself hallucinating, picturing myself hanging with Marshall McLuhan and listening to him rant due to excessive use of amphetamines. But in a good way.
lbh.
May 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
the book isn't uninteresting, but also isn't anywhere near exhaustive in its analysis--i think the author'ss arm-chair critiquing what he sees around him, rather than advancing any seriously developed theories. i liked the introduction, though, and his theory of "optionality" defining virtual experience. but not enough to finish the book.
Shan
Jun 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I picked up this book thinking it would provide a truthful look at how our culture's media obsession is impacting our lives. I knew I was in trouble when in the first chapter I read:

But most people are cool with (having tons of options to exercise at will). At least in the blue states.


At least in the blue states?! Ok, a mild dig at conservatives. I should come to expect this from an author like de Zengotita, whose existence doesn't expand beyond the socialistic walls of academia. Men like him wo
...more
Aaron
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Social science students
An excellent book exploring the cumulative effect that mass media (or perhaps any experience-mediating institution) have had on our experience, especially in the past 400 years. I expected this to be a commentary on institutions of mass media and public opinion, or something along those lines. Instead the book is far more ambitious and does an excellent job of showing how deep the effects of media go into our personal lives.

De Zengotita does an excellent job to keep it interesting (if dense or
...more
Mike
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I didn't understand half of what the author was saying. The writing was often pedanic and ostentatious (and very funny at times). Frequently, I didn't know what the examples and anecdotes were supposed to illustrate. Everything de Zengotita says is pure conjecture. But I loved the book anyway. I've read and thought a lot about the media and how it shapes our views of the world and ourselves, so I apprectiate a book that makes the suject new for me, so appreciative that I think I'll reread this o ...more
Jared Colley
May 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in media theory, postmodernism, & narcissism
Simply put (perhaps too simply), this book is about the media and its effects - but it is also about something more fundamental. This book is the most clear expression (or demonstration) of what it means to say we live in "the postmodern era." There has been a lot of books written on what "postmodernism" means, and most of them are lofty academic expositions that speak to only a select few. This book speaks to everyone and says some very thoughtful things about what it means to live in a late-ca ...more
Moein Esmaeeli
It was frustrating!
It had some good ideas but ruined by many unnecessary examples.
The writer had no plan for this book and just wrote anything crossed his mind without an order.
Eowyn Randall
May 22, 2013 marked it as to-read
Recommended by girl serving ice cream in Oakland, because of my tattoo
Madalyn
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Content wise, this is one of my favorite books (though the writing style can become tedious at parts).
Diana
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I really didn't like this book i liked some parts but it didn't grab my attention i didn't get it but overall Its a good book for others to read
Hanna Potter
May 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Just an old guy rambling on about problems in the world, without really stating his opinion on what could rectify the problems he complains about.
Sally Sugarman
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a thought provoking, disturbing and challenging book. The basic thesis of the book is that we live in a world of representation. There are so many ways the world is represented to us. The book starts with an incident when actors in an acting studio are told that president JFK has been shot. They immediately see this as an improvisational cue and respond in a variety of ways that imitate an authentic response. Later they are told that what they were originally told was true. Do we react t ...more
Josiah
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is kind of like listening to your brilliant but slightly-eccentric uncle discuss the state of the world and the present-culture. The book jumps from one topic to another rather rapidly, doesn't exactly deal with its topics in a systematic fashion, and makes logical leaps that are a bit questionable at times, but makes a lot of really thought-provoking points about the way that digital media has shaped today's society. The best section was definitely his section on this culture's form o ...more
itpdx
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book because I heard this interview of Adrian Grenier http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st... about his documentary, Teenage Paparazzo, about a 13 year-old paparazzo taking pictures of him (Grenier). Grenier refers to this book and says that it shaped his views on media. I thought the book might explain why people want to know everything about celebrities. De Zengotita doesn't explain why people want to know but does explain why they feel entitled to the information--basically, he c ...more
Rachel
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Even though author chose to write in a style that sounds something like Tommy Chong's character in That 70's Show, he makes a lot of really interesting and well thought out points. It was especially interesting to see how the author's own understanding of this complex aspect of our lives unfolded through his years of study of real people and philosophy. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to parents as it basically puts to rest the question of how involved in media kids should ...more
Maryrobin G
May 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American's, people who snap lots of photos, tv viewers everywhere
My husband actually read this book and has read portions aloud to me. I am very impressed by the ideas and am anxious to read it, though I must be in the non-fiction agenda mood, as opposed to the current poetic mood I am in. Basically, we are told how to think by media. Aron and I got rid of our tv in the garage after this (it's totally gone now). And I stopped buying magazines. I still read the newspaper and am on the internet though, it does feel a bit easier to control there. Anyway, great i ...more
Ben
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for my thesis and I was not thoroughly impressed with it (that was almost 6 years ago, so my memory of the work is a bit fuzzy), but it was a worthwhile read about the over-saturation of media messages in our culture, like a blob (that was a metaphor used by de Zengotita) that can, potentially, permeate all empty spaces and consume all things in its path, shaping the world we live in for better or worse. The messages, likewise, can simply be ignored or dealt with. It is helpful, ...more
Peter
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kailin
Feb 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it's just a lot of pontificating how how culture is changing as modes of representation change, De Zengotita does it better than anyone else. He manages to put out pretty complicated, critical-theory-related thoughts while sounding brilliantly casual. Sometimes it's annoying but most of the time it works. This book is mostly a collaboration of Harper's articles, with the gaps filled in - so sometimes you feel like he's trying to provide transitions he's not comfortable with. While all the ...more
Derrick
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
What I liked best about this book is the author's synthesizing ability - his ability to combine multiple other critiques of the media into this book. "Utterly original" etc. are descriptions of this book - and I'd say that's mostly accurate. His concept of the "flattered self" is at the root of his criticisms of the media. But, is this book a work of criticism? Does it provide solutions? Not really! The author's entertaining style occasionally comes off as smug and too cynical. But, I enjoyed it ...more
Tim
An interesting analysis of the way our view of the world and our relation to it is affected by the many forms of representation which stand between us and the world. In my view, the book's effectiveness is lessened by the author's tendency to extend his arguments beyond the point at which he can advance credible evidence to support them. Nevertheless, it's well worth reading - especially the chapters on the representations of childhood and of terror.
Jason
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: media, nonfiction
A examination of how advertising, movies, and 24 hours news channels have conditioned us all to feel like the center of the universe. There are really good points in this book. The central premise itself is very interesting and likely true--solipsism seems to be the common trait of the modern human being. The only real problem with this book is that the incredibly long winded writing style makes everything extremely tedious.
Cameron
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Exhausting and breathless, but still interesting commentary on how saturated our lives are with mass media; there are a few particularly damning read-out-loud sections that point out the absurdities in our media-infused lives. I felt a lot of this same subject matter was better and more concisely expressed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 30 years prior; what Robert M. Pirsig wrote in his first chapter, de Zengotita extrapolated to an entire book.
Marci
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book, from the cover seems to have an interesting premise, however due to the disjointed writing style and disorganization of the book, I'm not really sure what the book is trying to say. Something negative about the media I suppose. Something about how nobody is actually "real" because we are all constantly acting. And about how fast-paced the world is and how stressed out we are. The books writing seems to reflect this, as I felt very stressed from trying to follow the writing!
Tobias
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book because I think Zengotita really gets what contemporary American life is like. The more I read it, the more I think this book makes a great companion to the oeuvre of David Foster Wallace — like DFW, Zengotita documents the "hungry I" in contemporary America, the dominance of the ego in twenty-first-century America as they interact with their environments. I would love to give this book another star or two, but I think it was undermined by poor organization.
Willa
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
changed my awareness of the way we have all been mediated... and duped and dummed down and made into narcissists and don't even realise (and happily comply). It's terrifying but true! A must-read for whoever wants to know the truth.
My only point is that it is written from a rather pessimistic point of view, leaving one anxious and worried (and reminding me of my father) rather than finding new ways forward to rebuild our sanity and values in a radically changed environment and consciousness.
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