MEDIA UNLIMITED ~ How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives
Book review and technical detail MEDIA UNLIMITED ~ How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives Todd Gitlin
|Technical detail of MEDIA UNLIMITED ~ How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives|
|Title||MEDIA UNLIMITED ~ How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives|
|Category||Entertainment & Sports|
|Publishing Date||1st January, 1970|
Thousands and thousands of channels, but nothing on.Instead of bemoaning that fact or celebrating it in an explosion of incomprehensible post-pastiche euphoria, Gitlin (Cultural Studies/NYU; The Twilight of Common Dreams, 1995, etc.) sets out to examine the structural role that media proliferation plays in the late-industrial world. Early on, Gitlin promises a grand summation and uses that lofty goal as a means of avoiding tiresome specificity. Unfortunately, the lack of specificity sometimes bleeds into a lack of rigor and relevance (at times one could even say coherence). Basically, there are three essays here, and the connections among them are not always clear. The first, and most interesting, is a witty riff on the media “torrent,” the paradoxical promises it makes, and the deeply embedded role it plays in a consumerist society. The second patchily examines the role of speed in modern society and ties it into the demand for more media: The faster we can process images and information, the richer our lives are (in both senses of the word). The third, more descriptive than analytical, identifies six ad hoc “styles of navigation” that supposedly describe the strategies that people adopt in their interactions with the media torrent. There’s a conclusion that attempts to tie all of this together by throwing around words like “culture” and “democracy,” but it feels tacked on. What one’s left with, then, is a strange combination of provocative thoughts (speed originally meant “to prosper” and only later took on its present meaning; the goal of the modern media is to efface the media’s mediating function by presenting things immediately) and serious navel-gazing (on more than one occasion one gets the sense that we’re reading cleaned-up notes that Gitlin took while watching sports on TV). This inconsistency would be less disappointing if the author weren’t fighting over his chosen piece of analytical turf with a heap of other, more systematically compelling writers, many of whom he happily cites.Diffuse.
A provocative new exploration of our media-saturated lives-a worthy successor to Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media.Everyone knows that the media is all around us, but no one quite understands its effect on our lives. Critics and analysts focus on this show or that celebrity, but they miss the true import of our total immersion in a fast-moving sea of sounds and images. As he did with television in Inside Prime Time and with the culture wars in The Twilight of Common Dreams, Todd Gitlin once again recasts the world we think we know. In Media Unlimited, a remarkable and original look at our media-saturated, speed-addicted world, he makes us stare, as if for the first time, at the biggest picture of all.Ranging from video games to elevator music, action movies to reality shows, punditry to Internet exhibitionists, Gitlin evokes a world of relentless sensation and nonstop stimulus. Far from signaling a "new information age" or a rescue from passivity, the media torrent, as he shows, fosters disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens to make democracy a sideshow.A charged polemic, Media Unlimited reveals the glut of manufactured images and sounds as one of the defining features of our civilization, and as a perverse culmination of Western hopes for freedom.
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