Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jerry Mander would be proud

In 29 fell swoops, Westley Strellis advanced education in Atlanta today.

He took out 29 televisions at an Atlanta Walmart using an Easton baseball bat he borrowed from the sporting goods section.

Eight days before the Braves open training camp in the Grapefruit League, Mr. Strellis struck a blow for small businesses, for education, and, by golly, for baseball.

The "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" ought to be mandatory reading for anyone contemplating teaching. The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local ought to be mandatory reading for anyone interested in maintaining our republic. Both were written by Jerry Mander, once a Madison Avenue guy, and a hero of mine.

I know, I know, I shouldn't encourage this kind of nonsense. And maybe those Boston dudes should not have tossed the tea overboard.

The police report was lifted from The Smoking Gun


Barry Bachenheimer said...

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”

~Edward R. Murrow in a speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago (15 October 1958)

John Spencer said...

"The medium is the message." Marshall McLuhan.

It is a myth that humans can decide the ultimate ends of all technology. It is a myth that we can shape a medium more than it shapes us. It is a myth that technology is neutral.

Radios, telegraphs, printing press, graven images on the wall, Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, Pandora busting open a jar. Each of these changes us in ways we can never predict ahead of time.

doyle said...

Dear Barry,

Were it merely wires in a box--some things cannot be captured adequately by television. So much as television shapes our lives (and it does),these limitations shape our world view.

So much of what we think of as real truly is not--we trust our eyes, as we have for millennia, and they have served us well evading predators, hunting prey.

We trust our eyes enough that if we see it, we trust it to be real.

Dear John,


We use these tools, even with recognized risks, because we choose to be part of the culture into which we were born.

I'd argue that some of our "greatest" inventions--automobiles, television, even electric lights--do more harm than good when all is factored in.

Patrick Higgins said...

Wow. What a blast from my recent past. My most memorable college class, Nonwestern Culture from the Margins of Society, had as one of its backbone texts Mander's book.

Prior to reading the book, I had taken the stance that as a future teacher, I had an obligation to teach the written word and it's sway over us. Several friends of mine in communications constantly argued that the power of media, especially TV, was too much for young people to handle. Mander's book truly drove that home for me. I left that class, and that book, definitely altered.

I have young children now; the onslaught of media they face often frightens me, and I am the first to recognize that they have to be armed with the requisite skills to understand it.

doyle said...

Dear Patrick,

Most of us have no idea how influenced we are by our(?) images. Ironically, the same tool that allowed democracy to develop now threatens to kill it.

Have you read Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred? A phenomenal read, written in Mander's breezy (but wise and well-documented) style.

Charlie Roy said...

Everything you've recommended that I've read I'v really enjoyed. I'll be reading these books soon.

doyle said...

Dear Charlie,

I hope you enjoy Mander--he writes in a breezy style, but backs his thoughts up with good evidence.

His take on television changed my behavior, no mean feat. His Absence of the Sacred remains one of my all-time favorites.