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Amusing Ourselves To Death: The Problem With Entertainment

1697 words - 7 pages

In "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" the author Neil, Postman elaborates his ideas of television and other types of media being related culture and society. The book was written in 1985 in the 20th century when many of the technologies we have today did not exist. At the time Postman suggests that American culture, which was symbolized by Las Vegas, was "entirely devoted to the idea of entertainment (Postman, 268)." Specifically the biggest concern about entertainment was a person's appearance. Which still remains true in today's 21st century. In today's television we are still very concerned with appearance even when it comes to doing more important ...view middle of the document...

Therein is our problem, for television is at its most trivial and, therefore, most dangerous when its aspirations are high, when it presents itself as a carrier of important cultural conversations (Postman 464).” Here he is saying that there is not an issue with entertaining shows that are not delivering important information such as “Scandal” or “Dancing With the Star’s”, but the issue is with the show’s we are getting our information from. He say’s that we are living in a culture where all of our public discussions are taking form in some sort of entertainment. When he say’s “Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, ( Postman 266)” he is right. Even though we are living in a different century than when this book was written, every topic in our society is covered by the entertainment industry. Today television is still aiming to entertain whether it be news or the latest reality tv show and what we find entertaining is dictating what is being showed to us on television.
In "Amusing Ourselves to Death” one work of literature that Postman refers back to is “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley written in 1932. In this futuristic novel Huxley describes a world where “people will come to love oppression and technologies that will undo their capacities to think (Postman 242)” In the foreword Postman’s son mentions that the book is about the possibility that Huxley could be right and that “Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance (Postman 246).” When Neil Postman talks about “Brave New World” and the truth becoming clouded in his book he is referring back to how entertainment can cloud the way we perceive truth. When he begins chapter one he discusses a time in Las Vegas when show business and entertainment was taking over , but I feel like his example can still be applied to today’s television. He say’s “, it is implausible to imagine that anyone like our twenty-seventh President, the multi-chinned, three-hundred-pound William Howard Taft, could be put forward as a presidential candidate in today’s world. The shape of a man’s body is largely irrelevant to the shape of his ideas when he is addressing a public in writing or on the radio or, for that matter, in smoke signals. But it is quite relevant on television ( Postman 320).” Here he is discussing how someone's physical appearance can take over and cloud politics because no one wanted to see an overweight man on television despite if he was a good politician or not. He goes on to say that when we are watching television we are engaging in a visual conversation with images, and not words (Postman 320). Therefore it makes the position of a image manager way more important than a speech writer when a politician is on television. He say’s “You cannot do political philosophy on television. Its form works against the content ( Postman 320).”
To apply it today’s world how many times have we...

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