Examines the ways in which television has transformed public discourse--in politics, education, religion, science, and elsewhere--into a form of entertainment that undermines exposition, explanation and knowledge, in a special anniversary edition of the classic critique of the influence of the mass media on a democratic society. Reprint.
Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1, Martin Luther University (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik), course: Orality and Literacy, 17 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The central topics of the works of the writer, educator, communication theorist, social critic and cultural commentator Neil Postman have always been the media, their different forms of communication and their meanings to people, society and culture. Any of his books was built around the McLuhan-question: “Does the form of any medium of communication affect our social relations, our political ideas, or psychic habits, and of course, as he [Marshall McLuhan] always emphasized, our sensorium” (Postman: 07/30/05)? Postman was aware of the fact that a new technology and therefore a new medium may have destructive as well as creative effects. During the history of mankind there have been tremendous changes in the forms, volume, speed and context of information and it is necessary to find out what these changes meant and mean to our cultures (Postman: 1985, 160). For him, it is a basic principle that “the clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation” (Postman: 1985, 8). In the book “Amusing Ourselves to Death - Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” Postman examines, from a 1980s viewpoint, the changes in the American culture caused by the shift from the Age of Reason with the printed word at its center to the Age of Show Business with television as the central medium - or in simplifying terms the shift from rationality to triviality. Twenty years later, the situation has changed again. This term paper will make an attempt to answer the question what the new media, especially the internet, did to the modern (American) culture and to its public discourse. Obviously, Postman’s provocative title “Amusing Ourselves to Death” was just the beginning of a fast moving development since nowadays the modern media world seems to shape our lives under the title “Informing Ourselves to Death” (Postman: 07/30/05) or to use one of the latest terms “Infotaining Ourselves to Death”. ..First of all, the following chapters will examine the line of Postman’s argumentation which led to the conclusion that television has significantly transformed the American society into an amusement and entertainment culture. What has happened and what was the role of the media? Was this the beginning of a “Brave New World”? As a matter of fact, Postman ́s theories and statements are not to be taken as unreflected truth. Subsequently,some critical remarks are to be made from a 21 st -century viewpoint. [...]
In this comprehensive response to the education crisis, the author of Teaching as a Subversive Activity returns to the subject that established his reputation as one of our most insightful social critics. Postman presents useful models with which schools can restore a sense of purpose, tolerance, and a respect for learning.
A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse. As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative—and incendiary—cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman. He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts. Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso's Guernica, Goya's "Duendecitos"), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well—and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation. Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.
At a time when we are reexamining our values, reeling from the pace of change, witnessing the clash between good instincts and "pragmatism," dealing with the angst of a new millennium, Neil Postman, one of our most distinguished observers of contemporary society, provides for us a source of guidance and inspiration. In Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century he revisits the Enlightenment, that great flowering of ideas that provided a humane direction for the future -- ideas that formed our nation and that we would do well to embrace anew. He turns our attention to Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, and Franklin, and to their then-radical thinking about inductive science, religious and political freedom, popular education, rational commerce, the nation-state, progress, and happiness. Postman calls for a future connected to traditions that provide sane authority and meaningful purpose -- as opposed to an overreliance on technology and an increasing disregard for the lessons of history. And he argues passionately for specific new guidelines in the education of our children, with renewed emphasis on developing the intellect as successfully as we are developing a computer-driven world. Witty, provocative, and brilliantly reasoned, Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century is Neil Postman's most radical, and most commonsensical, book yet. From the Hardcover edition.
In a series of feisty and ultimately hopeful essays, one of America's sharpest social critics casts a shrewd eye over contemporary culture to reveal the worst -- and the best -- of our habits of discourse, tendencies in education, and obsessions with technological novelty. Readers will find themselves rethinking many of their bedrock assumptions: Should education transmit culture or defend us against it? Is technological innovation progress or a peculiarly American addiction? When everyone watches the same television programs -- and television producers don't discriminate between the audiences for Sesame Street and Dynasty -- is childhood anything more than a sentimental concept? Writing in the traditions of Orwell and H.L. Mencken, Neil Postman sends shock waves of wit and critical intelligence through the cultural wasteland.
A renowned social critic argues that the United States has become a "technopoly"--a system that sacrifices social institutions for self-perpetuating technological advancement--and suggests ways to use technical skills to enhance our democracy. 17,500 first printing. Tour.
This hilarious cast of star philosophers will make you laugh while you think as they explore the moral conundrums, ridiculous paradoxes, and wild implications of Saturday Night Live Comedian-philosophers from Socrates to Sartre have always prodded and provoked us, critiquing our most sacred institutions and urging us to examine ourselves in the process. In Saturday Night Live and Philosophy, a star-studded cast of philosophers takes a close look at the “deep thoughts” beneath the surface of NBC’s award-winning late-night variety show and its hosts’ zany antics. In this book, philosophy and comedy join forces, just like the Ambiguously Gay Duo, to explore the meaning of life itself through the riffs and beats of the subversive parody that gives the show its razor-sharp wit and undeniable cultural and political significance. Our guest hosts raise some eyebrows with questions like: Is Weekend Update Fake News? Does SNL upset dominant paradigms or trap us in political bubbles? When it comes to SNL, how can we tell the difference between satire, smart-assery, and seriousness? Is the Ladies Man too stupid for moral responsibility? What is the benefit of jokes that cause outrage? The Church Lady has a bad case of moral superiority. How about you? What can Wayne and Garth teach us about living a happy life?