Monday, October 20, 2008
Amusing Ourselves to Death
I was truly a TV baby, I grew up watching endless hours of I Love Lucy, the Brady Bunch, Good Times, Bewitched, Batman, the Carol Burnett Show, All in the Family, Gilligan's Island and the list goes on. However, I knew the value of an education. I always wanted to be intelligent. I also knew how to separate fiction and non fiction. My mom would have killed me if I tried some of the things that I saw on tv. With the rise of the entertainment media and blurring of the lines between reality and make believe, I can't help but reflect on Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. In a nutshell, he asks what are the long term ramifications of a visual society as opposed to a text based one. Reading is an exercise in brain extension while watching is an exercise in brain numbing.
Given recent events, caricatures on Saturday Night Live, so many appearances on late night talk shows and other entertaining endeavors, one asks is it better to have entertainers in the White House or intellectuals? It's just a question. Looking at America's history with the Kennedy-Nixon debate and the Warren Harding effect as described Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, a reality check is in order. On the run, let me know what you think.