Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Response To Comment

Good comment from Nilda.

As I'm sure you know, Nilda is not the first person to disagree with McLuhan's thoughts on TV! He tends to use wide, sweeping statements to counter the common knowledge that TV is bad. I guess the theory is "if only 1 person is saying it, you better say it big."

I never read Ursula Le Guin, but I would think most people agree with her. But keep mind that she is a writer. TV has whittled away to influence of her chosen profession. She most likely has an inherent bias against TV. If she were a TV news broadcaster, she may have a different opinion! Likewise, I'm sure Monet would have had something against the camera. So while I respect her comments, I do take them with a grain of salt.

McLuhan's idea is that TV engages you. It moves in front on you and you have to keep up with it. That is the active part. Printed materials are static, non-moving. They just sit there, waiting for you to engage them on their terms. This was confusing to me at first, because if TV does all the work for you, then it is passive. And if reading needs you to act, then it should be called an active medium, right?!?

No, that is not McLuhan's argument. For him, the medium itself trumps the content ("the medium is the message"). So how the TV communicates itself is what matters, which is why TV is more active. He goes on and on about it, and I recommend reading his Playboy interview. It gets all his major concepts across without the painful verbosity of his more academic work. I would summarize, but that's a blog post I don't have the patience to write.


your sil again said...

HA HA I am so not surprised that Playboy has somehow managed to make it into this conversation...

I agree with you that Le Guin as an author is inherently biased against tv watching and argues that tv is passive as opposed to good written works that should engage you. And in all fairness to McLuhan, I have watched plenty of movies that have fully engaged me, mind and soul.

Food for thought though:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends absolutely no media (television, video, internet, etc.) for children under 2 years old, and then no more than 1-2 hours of quality media a day after that (and ideally watch it with them and talk about it with them.) Basically, engaging them as much possible. (Hey, I'm just copying & pasting from the the AAP here!)
However, they recommend that you should read to your children daily as soon as they are born.
Why? Is there something inherently missing from the tv watching experience?

TheMediaDude said...

Yeah, I know. TV is bad, playing outside is better. I just don't believe that. Kids TV has come a long way in the past 5 years. Ever since network TV gave it up (it wasn't profitable enough), cable TV has taken the ball and run with it. The shows on today are so stimulating and engaging, even I like them (the first viewing, at least). Lilah plays well and also has a great attention span. No issues with me.