tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander
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's review
May 09, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: essays, psychology, politics, sociology
Recommended for: EVERYONE - especially in the TV industry
Read in July, 2009

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 Pittsburgh. THANK GOODNESS THEY DIDN'T DO THAT!!

ANYWAY, I probably didn't read it when it came out b/c I'd already stopped watching TV long since & figured that I already knew most of Mander's arguments - having made them myself. AND I was right. Much of what Mander writes is what I'd already observed too.. BUT he articulates it so well, so thoroughly, that I'd recommend this bk to everyone as much as possible (w/o being a proselytizer, ie). I even loved this as much as I loved "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia"! & that's saying alot!

During the mnths that I've been intermittently reading this, I've quoted from it extensively on various Cognitive Dissidents posts:

The 4th & 5th messages to the "Robopaths" topic:


The 5th, 6th, & 7th messages to the "Propaganda" topic:


PLUS, I'm working toward making a movie called "Robopaths" that I've been selecting Mander quotes for.

B/c of the space limitations of this review, I'll confine myself to just quoting 2 ending paragraphs here:

"Television technology is inherently antidemocratic. Because of its cost, the limited kind of information it can disseminate, the way it transforms the people who use it, and the fact that a few speak while millions absorb, television is suitable for use only by the most powerful corporate interests in the country. They inevitably use it to redesign human minds into a channeled, artificial, commercial form, that nicely fits the commercial environment. Television freewayizes, suburbanizes, and commoditizes human beings, who are then easier to control. Meanwhile, those who control television consolidate their power." - p349

"We believe ourselves to be living in a democracy because from time to time we get to vote on candidates for public office. Yet our vote for congressperson or president means very little in the light of our lack of power over technological inventions that affect the nature of our existence more than any individual leader has ever done. Without our gaining control over technology, all notions of democracy are a farce. If we cannot even think of abandoning a technology, or thinking of it, affect the ban, then we are trapped in a state of passivity and impotence hardly to be distinguished from living under a dictatorship. What is confusing is that our dictator is not a person. Though a handful of people most certainly benefit from and harness to their purposes these pervasive technologies, the true dictators are the technologies themselves." - p352
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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael When Odysseus and his men are captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, he succeeds in escaping by employing not just brute force and the power of wine, but linguistic sleight-of-hand as well. In the one case, he tells the inebriated cyclops that his name is "Nobody", and in the other, plunges the giant's own wooden club, charred and burning, into that terrible monoscopic eye.

When Polyphemus yells out to his fellow Cyclops that "Nobody" has just injured him, they simply think he's gone mad and let him howl. Thus Odysseus and his remaining men escape by the skin of their cro-magnon teeth and the underbelly wool of Polyphemus's sheep.

Told in and for our own time, this story has always seemed to me to be a metaphor for the monolithically controlling eye of corporate television. The only way to escape its terrible gaze is to turn it off and keep it off, thus blinding the large part of its ability to grab us by the balls and sockets of our potentially thinking eyes.

By declaring ourselves to be "Nobody" in the face of the corporate cyclops, we escape, at least on that front, some of the effects of the technological dick-'tator, who or which is afterall the unfortunate result of crossing a penis and a potato. Ah, the good old days of Paleolithic egalitarianism and matriarchal anarchy..... -Wilg2

message 2: by tENTATIVELY, (last edited Aug 03, 2009 11:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE If Cyclops' wooden club is TV's camera & the TV screen is Cyclops' eye then maybe the camera shd just be aimed at the TV-eye so that it generates feedback & leaves the outside world alone. TV cd certainly use more introspection therapy.

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Ah, like Nam June Paik's Buddha...

tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE That wd certainly be an improvement! However, I was thinking: TV's club is its remote control - so that brings us back to yr idea of just turning it off.

message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Of course, one has to differentiate between television and video monitors.

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