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A Penetrating & Disturbing Look At The Electronic Media
on June 14, 2000
I was literally blown away by this remarkable book and its well-argued and carefully documented thesis regarding the ways in which contemporary Americans are victimized and manipulated into a kind of strange, conjured, and artificial perspective of the world around them through the rise and active ministrations of the "unreality industry". Here is an eye-opening expose on the specific ways in which we are being influenced, entertained, and carefully manipulated even as we strive to learn more about the world around us. Reading this remarkable book helped me to better understand the ways in which the rise of the electronic media to a position of prominence (if not complete domination) of the promulgation, interpretation, and dissemination of information has profoundly changed the way we have come to view, interpret and understand the world around us.
The authors carefully describe, articulate and identify those characteristics of the media that cause many of us such vague unease regarding the way the media increasingly seems to focus on provocative, entertaining and diverting news stories which often are of only tangential import to us as citizens or individuals. We're subjected to obligatory overdoses on petty, arcane and distracting stores about Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, Susan Smith, Bill Clinton's cigar fetishes, and the vagaries of the stock market, while vital and critical issues of importance and relevance to us as individuals or as citizens are systematically ignored. According to Mitroff and Bennis, everything about the way the news programs are organized and presented leads us to increasingly view the news more as a vehicle for entertainment than as a method of informing ourselves to be involved citizens, so we come to expect ever-greater levels of stimulation and excitement by virtue of this stylized approach to what is important enough to report and present over the airwaves. Slowly we come to forget the critical differences between entertainment and information.
For the authors, as for an increasingly alarmed number of academics and social critics, the basic dialectic at hand revolves between objective and discernable "reality", on the on hand, and this artificially-generated, diverting, entertaining, but basically incorrect version of it called "unreality", a dialectic which more and more favors the organized collective forces of the media, who present such entertaining and stylized notions of what is relevant, cogent and important for us to pay attention to is not necessarily as accurate or as objectively disinterested as it may seem to be on the surface. We would do well to remember that the outcome of this struggle to correctly understand the world and how it operates is of desperate importance, and our eagerness to be entertained and diverted from the most egregious and disagreeable aspects of the modern environment must not allowed to become an addiction to fantasy, growing ignorance, and critical stupidity.