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Amusing Ourselves To Death By Postman

1034 words - 5 pages

Reflective Essay on Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death
In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman provides a critical analysis of the media environment in 1985. He explores the role and impact of the media by addressing different sectors of society, naming religion, politics, news, and education. Although this book was written prior to 1985, its relevance is far more evident today than ever; we are living in a nation in which entertainment is the focus and aim of each sector in American society and in which our notation of truth or knowledge has been greatly redefined. That is to say, we are “on the verge of amusing ourselves to death” (4) in this 2014 contemporary media environment by being ...view middle of the document...

The main reason that Postman gives for this is due to the shift from a world dominated by print for one dominated by moving pictures. As far as his evidence, he provides examples pertaining but not limited to the following: Lincoln-Douglas debates, religion, and news, just to name a few.
Let us start off by analyzing Postman’s evidence for his critical analysis. For instance, Postman mentions the structure of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. The structure of these debates were “that Douglas would speak first, for one hour; Lincoln would take an hour and a half to reply; Douglas, a half hour to rebut Lincoln’s reply” (44). Evidently with this overall structure individuals attending these events “must have had an equally extraordinary capacity to comprehend lengthy and complex sentences aurally” (45) especially since these debates were “considerably shorter than those to which the two men were accustomed to” (44). Nonetheless, Postman also states how this type of language would be “incomprehensible to a 1985 audience” (46); “people of a television culture need ‘plain language’ both aurally and visually” (46). In order to demonstrate this, Postman states how a present White House official would find it difficult to constructed similar clauses; but if he were, then he would do “at the risk of burdening the comprehension or concentration of his audience” (46).
Furthermore, Postman also goes on to say how serious sectors of life (i.e. religion and news) have been transformed into “show business,” they are trying to be some form of entertainment when they are being presented on television. For instance, Postman discusses how Reverend Terry, an evangelical preacher on television, has her audiences “almost always laughing” (114) similar to an as having an audience at Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Furthermore, he goes to address how “God comes out as second banana” (117) while “the preacher is tops” (117). What he means by this is that due to the concept of God not being “televisible,” the preachers become...

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