Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacturing of Falsehood and What It Is Doing to Our Lives
Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis UniOrlando Segway miniPro STEM

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars6
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

HALL OF FAMEon 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.
0Comment|27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 20, 2003
Mitroff and Bennis' _The Unreality Industry_ is about the nature of unreality and how the manufacturing of unreality is taking over America. Needless to state, TV is the primary medium of unreality, with the disconnected, a-historical context which it presents its news and entertainment material. The authors take care to outline the dichotomy between reality and unreality. Reality is very difficult to understand, is stressful to deal with, and only increases in its complexity. Unreality is simple, mindless, and creates the illusion (computer games, movies) of some kind of control over one's surroundings. Our embrace of unreality as a means of escape from the harshness and confounding nature of reality is deeply rooted in US culture: bigger is better, the infallibility of science and technology, the veneration of "progress". One aspect of unreality is that it employs "boundary warping" to catch the audience's attention. "Boundary warping" entails the near complete destruction of rational thought processes and categorization, the lack of any organization and coherence. The MTV music video is where "boundary warping" will find its most unadulterated manifestation--brightness, quick movement, lack of central focus, erotic images, disconnected and apocalyptic themes. It is often difficult to differentiate between male and female for instance and some androgyny or hybrid concoction is the norm (sounds like Gnostic Gnostalgia to me, but the book doesn't take the analysis that far). Another phenomenon that figures in unreality the commercialized, systematized and industrialized manufacture of celebrities. They have a mass-market appeal for various audiences, such as movie stars, sports figures, political parties, etc. The entertainment industry uses archetypes to sell its products as well. Archetypes, the primal images and ideas that unite humanity embodied in fairy tales, religions and myths, are constantly being re-hashed into different combinations to create stereotypical programming for the masses. The US is increasingly becoming a "leaderless" society, with true leadership replaced by managerial and bureaucratic ability. A chapter is devoted to the "Metaphysics of Sappiness" i.e., the dummying-down of society and discourse between people. With the advent of the electronic age, when people get together in large groups, it is usually for the purpose of entertaining each other rather than for intellectual conversation. In all, the authors seem to support the idea that the masses are not able to tolerate sustained inquiry, however, they warn against the trap of becoming too pessimistic. Obviously, this subject matter is going to arouse some controversy, and the authors pre-empt the criticism. They explicitly state in their introduction that their study in _The Unreality Industry_ would be one of a moral argument rather than one of dispassionate objectivity. Perhaps it can be said that Mitroff (a Ph.D. in engineering) and Bennis (a Ph.D. in economics from MIT) are two eggheads distasteful of the lack of more cultured programming (they like _Masterpiece Theatre_ for example). But in all, this book was written in 1989--the end of the Eighties. What did come out of the Eighties? Reaganomics, yuppies, video games, Madonna, Gorbechev, crack, hair-bands? _The Unreality Industry_ is late-Eighties burnout, pure and simple, and as we just wrapped up the Nineties a couple years ago, the idea that unreality is in total control is more relevant than ever.
11 comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon June 13, 2002
Ian Mitroff and Warren Bennis are two academics heavily involved in the technological revolution. Their purpose in writing this book is to examine how technology, in what they call the "systems age," has created an all-consuming cocoon of unreality in our daily lives. They are not bashing technology, but examining how a lack of ethics has allowed technology to threaten the very nature of our system of government and of our lives. There are plenty of books available on media studies: Todd Gitlin, Jerry Mander, Neil Postman, and others; what makes this book different, at least in the eyes of the authors, is that it studies the underlying causes of the effects of television and mass media. This underlying effect is the creation of unreality, or a system that is so all consuming that it blocks out the real world.
The problem with an omnipresent unreality is that the real reality has not gone away. One of the reasons we create an unreality is that the real world is far too complex to understand. In the modern world, the interdependence of every aspect of global life has led to a complexity that is simply astonishing to behold. Not one human being on the face of the Earth can make heads or tails of events anymore. The result is fear on the part of humans, which leads to the creation of an alternate, unreal world where answers are easy and presented in a somewhat non-threatening way (I'm not sure this is right; the media loves to start panics). This alternate world has become so pervasive that it has become an actual industry, generating celebrities and images that people can relate to.
How celebrity is created and marketed is probably the best part of the book. The authors use charts and graphs to show how this process has become a huge industry employing thousands and thousands of people. The book also shows how the masses react to this celebrity, which in extreme cases, leads to the likes of Jonestown and Mark David Chapman. Celebrityhood is revealed to be a process of engineering; people are "remade" to fit personalities and molds demanded by the public (or is it really demanded by the public? Perhaps the demand is created.).
Other sections show how media uses archetypes from the human psyche to create shows, how heroes are generated in a society that lacks, or at least ignores, real heroes, and boundary warping, or how reality and unreality is actually defined.
This is a good book, although it is somewhat dated. Even the 1993 update makes this book pre-Internet, a new technology that would no doubt interest the authors. One of the charts uses characters from "Dynasty" as examples, and the reliance on Sigmund Freud shows that the authors are not aware that most psychologists view Freud as a quack. I think this is a necessary read, at least for those who are interested in media studies and the like. It does tend to get a little esoteric at times, which is not surprising as the two authors are engineers who are probably not used to writing directly to the masses. Recommended.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 10, 2011
This book overwhelmed me when I first read it over 10 years ago. It was prescient in its hard nosed assessment of where popular television was taking America's viewing population and how its false fairyland, esp. the cult of celebrity, leads to a lack of critical thinking and the inability, indeed, unwillingness to grapple with and parse tough issues. Since then we have seen the depressing growth of "reality" TV, info-tainment masquerading as news, dance shows and other drivel that anesthetizes the audience. The authors thoughly explain how and why Ed Murrow was right back in the 1950's with his speech to the National Association of Broadcasters (ably presented in the film "Good night and good luck" that television would simply end up as "lights in a box" rather than a tool for learning and cultural improvement. A must read for anyone interested in modern popular culture.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 2, 1998
MICHAEL D. TYSON
REALITY VS UNREALITY
"Technology has provided a means to get information from anywhere in the free world instantaneously at the touch of a button, the question needs to be asked can we live with this" Mike Tyson
The Authors of the Unreality Industry have focussed their finger pointing on the effects of AMERICAN TELEVISION and why they believe it has ruin the lives of the American people. I do not believe that the "Tele" or any method of delivery is the root of the problem nor we I ever believe that to much information or for that matter information overload is in itself a bad thing. The problem as I see it is that people need to have the capability, education wise to be able to filter out the horse s**t and tune in to what is real. If we tend to believe everything we hear on the radio and everything we see on the Tele then we deserve to be mislead. People have either become extremely gullible or extremely stupid to not have a clue that this was coming. Prime Time television is big business it exist because we let it, but we don't haft to let it control are lives. I agree completely with the author's suggestions that we must uncommercialize television news, advertising and all programs that depict the game shows aroma. This will not be as easy as it sounds, if people are not getting shot and there's no blood, and no sex then who's gonna watch, lets not forget about those Neilson rating's and how important they are. I am convinced that education or in this case lack of is why people would rather watch COP'S than 60 minutes. People will watch programs that stimulate them and they will respond to people that they can relate to, how else can you explain the SNOOP DOGGIE DOG phenomena. For those who have not figured it out yet Modern life is nothing more than a rat race and nobody wins. The so-called information age has brought with it the tools to rule the world the problem with that is that it also provides us with a method to destroy it. How l! ong will it take before people get enough of UNREALITY can we the Industry capital of the world afford to consume much more, I bet not.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 4, 2001
While I agree that the media has its share of problems and is advertising driven and needs to be carefully analyzed, the arguments these two authors use are completely blown out of proportion. Everyone knows that you can't believe what you see on TV. As for the advertisements that permeate their way into programs - I don't see why the authors don't realize television wouldn't survive without clever advertising to keep the cash rolling in. As long as you can differentiate between reality and TV, you're fine, and this book will shed no new light on anything for you.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.