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Comments for Culture Is Our Business

Culture Is Our Business: 02/08/15

cover artMarshall McLuhan is the challenge author for the month of February for this year's Canadian book read. As he was a communications theorist, I'm sure I've read his work when I was film theory student.

In case you've never heard of him, I'm including a scene from Annie Hall.

Culture Is Our Business by Marshall McLuhan is a dialectical journal on the state of Western advertising as a reflection of culture at the close of the 1960s. Now separated from the source material, these quips read more like free verse slam poetry than responses to images and slogans that were at one point ubiquitous.

Now, though, looking back at a slice of popular (primarily American, though there are some Canadian, British, and European ads included) culture as represented by headlines, full page (black and white) ads and slogans, it's difficult to assess sometimes which are the quotes and which are the responses. So I'm sure a portion (and it might be as high as 50%)

But there were moments when I could see the same old dialog that is still being bandied about — especially worries about the current generation of youth or expectations that they will be fundamentally different because of "new media." Think now of the high expectations we put on Millennials at the expense of the previous generations. I'm apparently too old to know how to use a computer or a Smart Phone but my children are somehow genetically programmed to do both from birth (both are fallacies).

As this is such a dense book, I did some live micro-blogging of what I was reading on my Tumblr site. If you want to read my thoughts, here is the link to the tag I used.

 

 

Three stars

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Comment #1: Sunday, February 08, 2015 at 19:14:21

John

Despite the references being dated, it sounds like it is still provocative. Given your "fallacies" comment, do you think that the media today isn't significantly different and/or that it doesn't contribute to differences between the generations?

(And thanks, by the way, for taking up the challenge!)



Comment #2: Sunday, February 08, 2015 at 18:24:19

Pussreboots

My fallacy comment was directed at an on-going trend for one generation to generalize about another one. It seems typical for an older generation, usually the adult but not elderly one to assume that the current generation of children and teens are somehow magically adept at all the technology that has been developed within the last twenty to thirty years. Likewise, the same generation assumes that anyone older than they are is completely inept at the same technology, even though it's that generation that developed much of it.

McLuhan predicted that as television became more ubiquitous the competing media outlets would become indistinguishable from the political parties they were covering. That has certainly become the case with Fox and the extreme ends of the Republican party here in the US. Television, though, is now losing out to a new "new media" namely social media and more broadly, the internet. Of course, something will someday will surplant it.

Then there's advertising which is a part of the media, but is it's own pocket of trouble. It's still too white and too male. It's still too obsessed with sex and using women as objects to stand in for the sex appeal that whatever the product du jour supposedly has. But advertising too is losing out to ad blockers, streaming media, and other forms of consumption that don't use the old commercial driven approach to entertainment.