Jerry Mander - Four arguments for the elimination of television
A total departure from previous writing about television, this book is the first ever to advocate that the medium is not reformable. Its problems are inherent in the technology itself and are so dangerous - to personal health and sanity, to the environment, and to democratic processes - that TV ought to be eliminated forever.
Weaving personal experiences through meticulous research, the author ranges widely over aspects of television that have rarely been examined and never before joined together, allowing an entirely new, frightening image to emerge. The idea that all technologies are "neutral," benign instruments that can be used well or badly, is thrown open to profound doubt. Speaking of TV reform is, in the words of the author, "as absurd as speaking of the reform of a technology such as guns."
Arguments for the Elimination of Television
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978) is a book by Jerry Mander, who argues that many of the problems with television are inherent in the medium and technology itself, and thus cannot be reformed.
Mander spent 15 years in the advertising business, including five as president and partner of Freeman, Mander & Gossage, San Francisco, a nationally-known advertising agency.
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television argues that the technology of television is not a neutral or benign instrument or tool. The author argues that in varied technologies and institutions such as militaries, automobiles, nuclear power plants, mass production, and advertising, the basic form of the institution and the technology determines its interaction with the world, the way it will be used, the kind of people who use it, and to what ends.
The author argues that far from being "neutral," television predetermines who shall use it, how they will use it, what effects it will have on individual lives, and, if it continues to be widely used, what sorts of political forms will inevitably emerge.
The four arguments are :
- While television may seem useful, interesting, and worthwhile, at the same time it further boxes people into a physical and mental condition appropriate for the emergence of autocratic control.
- It is inevitable that the present powers-that-be (or controllers) use and expand using television so that no other controllers are permitted.
- Television affects individual human bodies and minds in a manner which fit the purposes of the people who control the medium.
- Television has no democratic potential. The technology itself places absolute limits on what may pass through it. The medium, in effect, chooses its own content from a very narrow field of possibilities. The effect is to drastically confine all human understanding within a rigid channel.
What binds the four arguments together is that they deal with aspects of television that are not reformable.
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