by Jerry Mander
is one of those books I would hardly recommend for anyone. I must admit I didn’t read it to the end but read two thirds of it which means I have earned some right to say something about it.
The argument that TV makes it possible to have the masses have almost the same thoughts or be exposed to the same story or image can be said of newspapers or any media that has a wide circulation. An argument can also be made that Jerry makes his people robots, that they can’t chose when to hit the off switch on their TVs or whatevers.
Jerry’s argument against TV is not limited to TV programming but includes the TV as a medium. And it does seem to me that he would not make allowance for using TV to watch youtube or any docuseries. TV is bad and that is the end of story. If he was writing the book today, would he make the same argument against smartphones and many social media apps that have the potential to be addictive. They may not be harmful.
Since I had not made an appearance on the world stage in 1978, I don’t know how ads were done then but as we speak, there is very important function that ads play in our lives. Without ads, I wouldn’t know whether HP has produced a better comp with much better graphics card and that I should replace my workhorse or maybe where I can bury myself in unhealthy meat burger with honey, cheese, onions and I don’t know what else they put in it. While on ads, an argument can be made that some ads cause harm. Should they be allowed to play on TV? I would say no. But that’s me.
TV is useful for education. And I think it can serve democratic ends though this can be difficult when the TVs and newspapers are owned by oligarchs who may not be interested in democracy or as we have seen with the American media engineering consent for war among the citizens.
Jerry talks of bias embedded in the TV medium but i think bias cannot be avoided in any medium. It can be reduced through objective reporting or allowing for the airing of dissent. And there is bias even in newspapers, books and internet articles.
The only thing going for the book is that it is easy to read though I don’t think it needed to have so many pages. His message could have still been argued in fewer pages.