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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

by Neil Postman

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  • Recommended

    the clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    8

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    we do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    16

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    Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it through a desiccated question, and then will submerge it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into-what else?-another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    69

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    there is nothing wrong with playing peek-a-boo. And there is nothing wrong with entertainment. As some psychiatrist once put it, we all build castles in the air. The problems come when we try to live in them. The communications media of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with teleAmusing Ourselves to Death 78 graphy and photography at their center, called the peek-a-boo world into existence, but we did not come to live there until television. Television gave the epistemological biases of the telegraph and the photograph their most potent expression, raising the interplay of image and instancy to an exquisite and dangerous perfection. And it brought them into the home. We are by now well into a second generation of children for whom television has been their first and most accessible teacher and, for many, their most reliable companion and friend. To put it plainly, television is the command center of the newepistemology. There is no audience so young that it is barred from television. There is no poverty so abject that it must forgo television. There is no education so exalted that it is not modified by television. And most important of all, there is no subject of public interest-politics, news, education, religion, science, sportsthat does not find its way to television. Which means that all public understanding of these subjects is shaped by the biases of television.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    77

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    Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do The Age of Show Business 93 not exchange ideas; they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    92

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    For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    93

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    I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    121

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    If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    126

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    The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    128

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    What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    128

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  • Learning

    the clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    8

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    we do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    16

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it through a desiccated question, and then will submerge it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into-what else?-another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    69

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    there is nothing wrong with playing peek-a-boo. And there is nothing wrong with entertainment. As some psychiatrist once put it, we all build castles in the air. The problems come when we try to live in them. The communications media of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with teleAmusing Ourselves to Death 78 graphy and photography at their center, called the peek-a-boo world into existence, but we did not come to live there until television. Television gave the epistemological biases of the telegraph and the photograph their most potent expression, raising the interplay of image and instancy to an exquisite and dangerous perfection. And it brought them into the home. We are by now well into a second generation of children for whom television has been their first and most accessible teacher and, for many, their most reliable companion and friend. To put it plainly, television is the command center of the newepistemology. There is no audience so young that it is barred from television. There is no poverty so abject that it must forgo television. There is no education so exalted that it is not modified by television. And most important of all, there is no subject of public interest-politics, news, education, religion, science, sportsthat does not find its way to television. Which means that all public understanding of these subjects is shaped by the biases of television.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    77

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do The Age of Show Business 93 not exchange ideas; they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    92

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    93

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    121

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    126

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    128

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

    What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, ISBN: 9780143036531

         

    128

    Save the ideas to learn them. Are you a new user? Create an account. Have an account? Log in now.

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