Monday, March 3, 2008

Postman Discussion Part II

It's time! We will discuss part two of the Postman book in class on Friday. By 11:59 PM on Wednesday March 5th. Post one idea or statement you agree with and why you agree with it and one statement or idea you disagree with and why.

Ten points for this toward your blogging grade is done on (zero) points if late.

Post your response to the comments section of THIS post.


Melissa said...

Postman wrote this book in 1984, yet you would think he wrote it yesterday because most of the things he touches upon have either turned out how he predicted they would or they have stayed the same. His discussion of news and politics as entertainment because of television is true in today's society. He brings up the nonsense of using television in the classroom because television cannot teach. It can only entertain. I know that most of the time when I was in middle or high school and would watch television or certain movies I felt that I was just watching them or daydreaming, not really watching them and trying to understand how they were relevant to what we were learning in class at the time.

In his final chapter, Postman makes the warning that television is destroying our culture. I don't agree with this statement. I don't agree because some of what we watch on television is educational and does teach us about the real world. Some of the shows on television right now that people watch deal with family and life issues. Some of these issues are things society has to deal with everyday or at one time or another. These shows help us to find ways to solve these problems or to help make us feel better. I do think that some of the reality shows out there are "fake" or "scripted" so that we believe this is what the real world is really like...even when that's not really the truth.

BeckysCommBlog said...

In the second part of Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman focuses specifically on television and its negative consequences. In the ninth chapter of his book, Postman, discusses the negative affects of television on politics. I agreed with many of the points he made here. In the following chapter, Postman changes his argument and focuses on the negative affects of television on young children. Although his argument might have been more relevant at the time this book was written, it does not apply to today.

With the upcoming election and candidates campaigning for nominations, it is easy to see how much television coverage affects the political race. Postman explains that around the 1970’s it became common place to see politicians as entertainment on TV. On page 132, Postman states that celebrities are different from people who are well known. But this distinction has become blurred with increased media coverage of politics. Just last week, Senator Hilary Clinton appeared on Saturday Night Live in hopes of bettering her campaign. Events like this have become common place today. But confusing entertainment with politics could have negative consequences. Postman stated , “television makes impossible the determination of who is better than whom.” I believe there is a lot of truth in this statement. The media coverage of political events makes it hard for viewers to get a true and unbiased understanding of a candidate.

In the final chapter of the book, Postman takes aim at children’s programming. He claims that programs such as Sesame Street are essentially hurting education. While he does not attack the program its self, he explains that allowing children to become educated by television shows interferes with their formal education. Postman explains that television programming does not add to what children learn in school, rather it undermines what schools are attempting to do. I disagree with this. I do not believe that television programs are in any way a substitute for school, but I do believe that they can enhance a child’s education. This might not have been the case twenty years ago, but more recent programs are attempting to provide viewers with education information in an entertaining way. It is possible for a child to learn something in school and have the same basic concepts reinforced by an educational television program.

Garrett said...

-“American television programs are in demand not because America is loved but because American television is loved.” (Postman p.86)


Postman brings up a valid point with this comment that he acknowledged in chapter six. It is right on the money. Through my traveling, I have personally seen this first hand. As Americans, people from other countries do not often adore us but they love the quality and the originality that American television shows have to offer. Even if the show has been outdated for years, residents of other countries cannot get enough of it. I think that shows how much time and money is spent on the quality of shows that Americans demand year in and year out.

-“If politics were like a sporting event, there would be several virtues to attach to its name: clarity, honesty, excellence.” (Postman p.126)


From the Lincoln and Douglas debates to the Bush and Kerry debates politics is a sport, their uniforms are just suits and ties instead of jerseys. The qualities he is talking about (clarity, honesty, excellence) are complex. How does he want these qualities to be more apparent? Over the many decades, politics has changed just like every other sport, so by saying that certain virtues need to be attached to politics is wrong.

Leah's Blog said...

Agree: “American television, in other words, is devoted entirely to supplying its audience with entertainment.”

This statement brings up an interesting point that I recently discussed on my personal blog. I talked about how even with news outlets; there are a lot more entertainment aspects than actual news. Television has become a medium where ratings and catching the attention of the public eye is more important than the content of the message. As Postman talks about in chapter 6, even commercials are a source of entertainment for the audience. Although there is an overlap with the idea that television both informs and entertains, I believe the prominent objective of today’s television is to entertain.

Disagree: “Television, as I have implied earlier, serves us most usefully when presenting junk-entertainment; it serves us most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse-news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion-and turns them into entertainment packages. We would all be better off if television got worse, not better.”

I’ve read this quote and the paragraphs that come before and after the quote several times, and I am still not quite sure why Postman believes this. If he believes that our society does not understand what television is, how would we be better off making it worse than better? Making television worse will not help people to gain a better understanding of television or make them any more media literate. Although I agree that television is devoted to entertaining its audience, I don’t agree that this is necessarily a bad thing. The television is still a medium for distributing the news. If people are watching news programs to gather information for entertainment purposes, then so be it! At least people are being informed in some way or another. Also, if “Sesame Street”, even if it is entertainment, educates children on how to read and count, how is this serving our society in an “ill” manner? To conclude, I don’t believe that entertainment news and education shows serve our society “most ill” in any way. Removing these broadcasts would eliminate an information source for our society and hurt the people who strictly rely on television as an information source. In no way would our society benefit from television becoming worse than better. I may not completely understand Postman’s view, but his thoughts on this particular subject matter seem ridiculous to me.

Chris Norris said...

In section 2 of Postman’s book, I continued to attempt to see the media world from his point of view. This can be somewhat difficult since the book is slightly out dated, and since he has such strong feelings towards the way our world is changing because of the mass media.
One area that I agreed with him (a rare occasion) came from chapter 7. Postman tells a story about a young woman who was involved in a sexism suit against a station Kansas City. Apparently, she was relieved of her on-air duties because the station did not feel “hampered viewer acceptance.” This basically meant, as Postman says, that viewers felt she lacked credibility. This is pretty unfair for her and many others who cannot be on air because of their looks. Postman successfully brought to my attention that you really never do see anyone on air that is slightly over-weighted, elderly, or “shady-looking.” Shouldn’t those on air be judged by their on air skills rather than their looks? Why is that audience members judge those on television by how they look? This is a common trend in our culture not just on television. As I think about some of the most popular on-air talents and they’re stellar looks and lack of imperfections, I see Postman’s point even more.
The part in which I disagree with Postman came from chapter 6. Postman says, “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection, or catharsis.” The reason I disagree is because even though this may indeed be the intent of the news show, I still feel like people are educated and informed by the news on some occasions. Perhaps not every night, but I know in my case, the news catches me up on recent events and is not always that entertaining. I also feel like the news can evoke emotion in people as well through pictures and storytelling. Although it is entertaining at times, I disagree with Postman because I feel like it can also be informative, educational, and bring about mixed emotions.

Amy said...


"What is happening here is that televison is altering the meaning of being informed by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation." pg 107

I understand that in some instances the news is packaged in such a way to seem entertaining. But in cases of reporting hard news stories, I truly feel that the entertainment value doesn’t override the sense of fact. It’s the viewer’s job to develop media literacy skills to discern the fact from fiction. If you are already under the understanding that parts of newscasts are exaggerated for dramatic effect you will be able to detect the facts and piece the story together yourself. Its like listening to one of your friends tell you the news of the weekend. You know that it might not be exactly word for word what happened but you will pull out the facts and become informed.


"Television is our culture’s principle mode of knowing about itself" pg 92

In my own experience, I use television for a lot of my information gathering. I listen and watch CNN when I’m getting ready in the morning. It doesn’t take much effort on my part and I learn the top news stories of the day, the weather and the latest gossip. Its definitely not the my only source but its mainly how I learn about our “culture” as Postman puts it. He seems to always speak poorly about the entertainment side of newscasts such as feature stories and celebrity gossip, but it’s a part of our lives and if your not willing to adapt and learn about these events your going to be left behind.

Danielle said...


“Many newscasters do not appear to grasp the meaning of what they are saying, and some hold to a fixed and ingratiating enthusiasm as they report on earthquakes, mass killings and other disasters. Viewers would be quite disconcerted by any show of concern or terror on the part of newscasters.”

While this may have been the way things happened back in the 80’s this would never happen now. If it did the anchor would be fired. That’s not good presentation and in no way is that professional. In all of my broadcasting classes they have taught us to be conversational in what we are reporting. If something bad happens it’s ok to show that you are concerned, but at the same time keep professional about it. I can think of two examples in recent history where newscasters showed their emotions; one was accepted while the other was ridiculed. It all really depends on the perspective of the event taking place. Back in 2001, when the twin towers were attacked I clearly remember Dan Rather’s voice shaking as he was telling the nation it was being attacked by terrorists. This gave Rather a sense of realism that he might not have had otherwise; you knew this was truly horrific if Dan Rather was getting shaken up about it. The other example was this year when sports reporter Suzyn Waldman cried on air after the Indians knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs. Many people said it was unprofessional of her to cry like when she was only a reporter. There is a huge difference between the Yankees losing and a terrorist attack on the country; I think if the story calls for it, it’s acceptable to show some type of emotion while reporting. It’s just important to keep things in perspective.


“Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure.”

As part of a news team and working on a cable news program every week I completely agree with this statement. When we put together a rundown for the show the lead story in each block of the show is usually a story that will grab the audience’s attention so they’ll stick around and watch the rest of the show. The same concept is applied when putting together a news package. Your best and most visually appealing shot always goes upfront to capture the viewer’s attention. Most of the emphasis is put on good video; audio and writing falls secondary to steady video.

Most news programs will end with a kicker story, a light and fluffy story to make you feel good. Some people say this is to cover up all the bad things that may have been in the newscast. It’s all part of the entertainment business. You have to leave the audience feeling good so they’ll come back the next night.

Brian Carbone said...


“…we know the ‘news’ is not to be taken seriously, that it is all in fun… to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection, or catharsis.” (Pg. 88)

I disagree with this comment by Postman because I myself watch the news in order to be informed of what is going on in the local communities, not to be entertained. There are shows for mere entertainment and I believe people watch them for that exactly. I don’t feel people watch the news for entertainment because most of it is not entertaining. Yes it is interesting and intriguing but that’s the product of society, not the news channel. They are not creating news; they are reporting it and people watch it to be more informed.


“…on television, religion,…is presented,… as an entertainment. On these shows, the preacher is tops. God comes out as second banana.” (Pg. 116)

I agree with this comment by Postman because if you ever watch a religion show on television you will see that what he is saying is true. The preacher is looked at as a saint, a healer, a person who can solve all problems, not God. These ‘preachers’ eventually become celebrity-like and have lines of people wanting to go through the process of mass with them. They are more than the average Sunday priest or preacher and are seen as celebrities, making the programming a sense of entertainment for those who are admires of the preacher. Some shows even advertise the preacher and sell CD’s or some kind of memorabilia of them to partake in the activities. Where is the sense of it being a religion? It is, as Postman says, entertainment for the viewer, not a learning medium.

Amy's Blog said...


"As I understand the word, a curriculum is a specially constructed information system whose purpose is to influence, teach, train or cultivate the mind and character of youth." (Postman 146)

I strongly agree with this statement made by Postman. He explains though this chapter about how the television is a good tool for education. I also feel that many of the shows that are on T.V. are every educational. The way that they bring everyday values into shows is something that people do not normally notice. But if you listen closely to the shows and what is being said you can see that there are lessons that are being taught. These lessons are something that is shown to children at a very young age. They may not even actually know that the shows are teaching them something but in the end it really is.


"We accept the newscasters' invitation because we know that the 'news' is not to be taken seriously, that it’s all in fun, so to say." (Postman 87)

I do not feel that people view the news as just a form of entertainment. I feel that when people watch the news that it is because they truly want to know what is going on in the world. I think that the music and the lighting that they discuss during this chapter are used to catch the viewer’s attention. It helps them to take a moment to stop and see what is on the show. So I disagree with what Postman said about the news being for entertainment.

Katie said...

"As [George] Gerbner suggests, television clearly does impair the student's freedom to read, and it does so with innocent hands, so to speak. Television does not ban books, it simply displaces them." Pg. 141

More than ever, I realize in this day in age how much parents rely on television to entertain their children. I notice this through babysitting when the parents tell me what shows their children can watch, but they say nothing about reading a story to them. Even when I go to Giant Eagle and see the children in the Eagle's Nest, they are mostly all playing video games or watching a children show. Although most children’s shows do have educational aspects, I wonder if in the future there will be a time when children no longer read books because of their dependency on television and other media sources. Children are no longer as interested in reading books as they were when I was little simply because our society has placed such great emphasis on television, video games, and DVDs.

"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." Pg. 128

Anymore we only see celebrities endorsing products for companies simply because that's what sells a product to our public. At my age, I am not as concerned with who represents a product I am going to buy as I am with the quality of the product. However, teenagers in middle and high school are extremely concerned with social status, and will probably be more likely to buy a product represented by a famous celebrity. From this viewpoint, teenagers are not concerned with the qualities of a product as they are with the status it has from being endorsed by a highly recognized individual. For example, if an Ipod endorsed by Joe Schmo and a RCA MP3player is endorsed by Michael Jordan, teenagers will likely purchase the RCA player. This is not because the RCA player is a lower price and of better quality, but because it is associated with celebrity status.

Megan said...

I agree with Postman�s statement, �Television is our culture�s principle mode of knowing about itself. Therefore � and this is the critical point � how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly staged.�

I agree with this statement because television is basically a mirror of our culture and also, we mirror our daily lives around what we see on television. We look to information about our culture from the news and we look to characteristics of our culture from the programs.

Fifty years ago the common family in the American culture was the Leave it to Beaver family. However, that is not the case today and television reflects that. Today, the common family in American culture can be seen on shows like Two and a Half Men or the New Adventures of Old Christine. Not only is television reflecting our culture, but our lives are reflecting television when we see that it is okay to be divorced and/or not have the typical nuclear family.

Shortly after Postman stated the previous comment, he went on to say, �Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.

I disagree with this statement because he is basically saying that we are only interested in images and entertainment. Although, the current trend in news is moving towards more infotainment broadcasting, I think he is really discrediting Americans and making us seem like a dumb, mindless culture.

It seems as if he is picking out the Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, socialite lifestyle and stating that all Americans follow that norm and that is the only thing anyone is concerned about. This is highly not true because those people are only a small group in our culture and his generalization is completely ignoring the millions of intelligent people in our culture who are doctors, business men and women, engineers, and scientists to name a few.

Anonymous said...

“The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining…” Pg. 87

I completely agree with this statement because as we have been studying in class for the past few weeks, entertainment has become the main goal for television. We focused specifically on the news becoming more of an entertainment venue. I remember doing an exercise for class a while back. Each student had a genre of television show to watch and we were to depict differences between reality and non-reality. I was amazed to hear about all about the non-reality elements that students found while watching the news. It is funny that even in 1985 this was an issue and it has become increasingly worse since then.

“Being a celebrity is quite different from being well-known.” Pg. 132

After reading this statement the book gave the example that Harry Truman was not a celebrity but was well known. Whenever anyone saw him he was talking politics. I feel that even our politics today have gained celebrity status especially with the upcoming election. I was reading US Weekly which is a huge entertainment magazine and an entire section was dedicated to Hilary Clinton’s worst outfits ever. Not only was the section about Hilary but the section was narrated by Hilary. Another day Obama was a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and they did anything but talk about politics. So I defiantly feel that especially our politicians today have gained celebrity status.

Christina said...

"Indeed, many newscasters do not appear to grasp the meaning of what they are saying, and some hold to a fixed and ingratiating enthusiasm as they report on earthquakes, mass killings and other disasters."

Now that Postman mentions it, it is odd that newscasters do not react to the news they are reporting. It is somewhat troubling to see newscasters report on earthquakes, mass killings, and other disasters with enthusiasm. I feel as though if I was a newscaster, it would be hard for me to remain expressionless.

"At the same time, 'Sesame Street' relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read - no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance."

I disagree with this statement because I really do not see how "Sesame Street" could replace parents teaching their children how to read. Children need mroe than an hour long television program to learn how to read. Sure, "Sesame Street" may enhance their reading abilities such as letter recognition or what sounds the letters make, but this show certainly won't teach a child how to read.

Cody, B said...

"Consider, for example, how would you proceed if you were given the opportunity to product a television news show for any station concerned to attract the largest possible audience. You would, first, choose a cast of players, each whom has a face that is both "likable" and "credible.""
Postman, pg. 100-101.

I feel this statement is positively true. On every station, you see beautiful, well broomed, fit individuals. Contrary to belief, people are more likely to accept the message from an attracting person over an ugly person. You look at Fox News, you see beautiful women delivering the news. This attracts viewers to the station. You know the old saying, "sex sells."


"The classroom is, at the moment, still tied to the printed word, although that connection is rapidly weakening. Meanwhile, television forges ahead, making no concessions to its great technological predecessor, creating new conceptions of knowledge and how it is acquired. One is entirely justified in saying that the major educational enterprise now being undertaken in the home, in front of the television set, and under the jurisdiction not of school administrators and teachers but of network executives and entertainers."
Postman: pg.145

I found this statement to be false. Postman uses the example of Sesame Street as the culprit of kids using T.V. as a learning tool, but I see the show refining the child's skills, not as the sole teacher. Our educational system might be flawed in many aspects, but teachers still teach the core curriculum to the adolescent. Shows like Barney and Mr. Rodger might teach a child a thing or two, but without a teacher having taught the child basic information, the child wouldn't be able to comprehend the show at all.

Gary D. said...

I disagree with Postman when he states, "In the Age of Show Business and image politics, political discourse is emptied not only of ideological content but of historical content, as well." I disagree because the election, this year, is very much still centered on ideological differences. The Democratic race is so close that Clinton and Obama are taking more serious strides in describing how the one's ideologies differs from the other's. Historical content also survives in image politics. Many politicians, no matter how well they present themselves on television, describe how the War in Iraq relates historically to Vietnam. Consequently, ideological content and historical content are not completely lost in image politics. Especially in this day in age, when most Americans are more concerned with which candidate can fix problems in this country than concerned with which candidate looks the best.

I agree with Neil Postman's comment relating to the development of the television commercial. He states that advertising is not about the the character of the products to be consumed, but the character of the consumers. This is completely true. Advertisers want people to buy their product based off of how they feel. Many commercials tell consumers nothing about the product. This reminds me of a JC Penny commmercial, which focuses around a rotating house. The commercial has nothing to do with describing the character of the products. Instead it deals with the, "...fears, fancies, and dreams of those who might by them."

Aimee Gerber said...

"Television's strongest point is that it brings personalities into our hearts, not abstractions into our heads."

I agree with this because it is true. We watch TV for the emotional connections just as much as we watch the news for the information. If the TV shows we watched did not convey a person that we could connect with or deem similar to us in some way we would lose interest and change the channel. Even in news there is some of the same thoughts. We watch it because it is relative to us the characters are real to us and not just some made up disconnected character. Books are great, the newspaper is wonderful but it does not solidify the person or character that we are associating with. TV does bring that character or person to life and draws us in and more importantly keeps us there.

"Children loved it because they were raised on television commercials, which they intuitively knew were the most carefully crafted entertainments on television."

I disagree with this statement because while the commercials may have been the most carefully crafted part of TV, the children weren't raised on them. They were raised possibly not TV and very simple shows, but not commercials. most people do not even pay attention to the commercials. Especially Children. They have a very short attention span and when the little cartoon goes off the air so does their brains. So no i do not believe children were "raised on television commercials."

Brittany Donegan said...

"In any sport the standard of excellence is well known to both the players and spectators, and an athlete's reputation rises and falls by his or her proximity to that standard."

I agree with this statement because in sports, it is true that the player's reputation depends on whether he or she has a good game. For example, if the player goes on a streak of having a few bad games in a row, his or her reputation will follow that. As a result of the bad streak of games, the player's reputation will fall. On the other hand, if the player has a streak of good games, his or her reputation will shine as a result of his or her ability to play well.

"We now know that 'Sesame Street' encourages children to love school only if school is like 'Sesame Street.'"

I do not agree with this statement at all. I feel that "Sesame Street" tries to make learning fun for children instead of boring. They never come out and say that they are depicting how school really is. They are simply trying to display a fun learning environment for kids so they will continue to want to learn and watch the show at the same time.

Roxanne said...

"The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining..." 87

I completely agree with this statement because it is true that entertaining programs aren't a problem; however, if every subject is presented in a way that's entertaining, there is no hard news. The importance of information becomes lost in the obsession to create entertainment. Even in the news, anchors are basically characters that are dressed for the part. It is important to receive messages that have a purpose beyond entertainment.

"We are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed." 107

I don't agree with this because I think that people are well aware of their ignorance on important issues. If someone wants to be credible, or worthy of debating a topic, they know to go beyond the television for information. If one choses to rely on television as a means of learning, it is a choice; those who to chose to do so should not be confused with the well-educated and well-informed. People simply don't care enough to be well-informed which, again, is a choice. It is unfair to generalize that an entire population is ignorant. People know the difference, and it is ultimately a choice.

Shayna said...


“We have become so accustomed to its discontinuities that we are no longer struck dumb, as any sane person would be, by a newscaster who having just reported that a nuclear war is inevitable goes on to say that he will be right back after this word from Burger King.” Pg. 104

I agree with this statement made by Postman because advertising plays a large role in media today. We can’t turn on the television or radio without being exposed to some sort of advertisement because without the advertisements to pay for the program, there would be no program. We are so use to seeing these messages that we expect to see them when we flip on the TV, even if the news reporter is talking about a nuclear war. Advertisements have just become part of our lives and it doesn’t faze us.


“Credibility here does not refer to the past record of the teller for making statements that have survived the rigors of reality-testing. It refers only to the impression of sincerity, authenticity, vulnerability or attractiveness conveyed by the anchor/reporter.” Pg. 102

This isn’t the first time Postman has made a comment about the importance of the attractiveness of a reporter. I feel that a person needs talent and skill in order to succeed in this occupation, not just good looks. I personally believe that if an anchor can write and report an interesting story and do it professionally, they are to be credible, no matter how attractive they may be. I do not feel that it is fair to judge a reporter’s credibility by how good looking they are, that just seems absurd to me.

Anonymous said...

Agree: "It is frightening to think that this may be so, that the perception of the truth of a report rests heavily on the acceptabilty of the newscaster."

I agree with this statement because I think society in general trusts whatever it is fed to them. Do most people even think about what is being told to them? Network television companies run advertisements saying that they are "the most trusted news source." In reality, they just tell the news (like any other station) and have likable reporters and anchors. People also tend to gravitate to sources that they agree with instead of sources that they disagree with. In general, conservatives navigate to Fox News, which has a reputation of being conservative. While liberals go to CNN or MSNBC to get the news that they want to hear.

Disagree: "We know that 'Sesame Street' encourages children to love school only if school is like 'Sesame Street.' Which is to say, we now know that 'Sesame Street' undermines what the traditional idea of school represents."

I disagree with this statement because I do no believe that "Sesame Street" is undermining the idea of traditional school. What "Sesame Street" does is that it encourages children to enjoy learning. It shows children that learning can be fun and that there are ways of enjoying school. It doesn't undermine it. At the very least "Sesame Street" can be said to build up the wrong idea in children's heads for what school in reality is like.

Jeremiah Tyler said...

I actually agreed with the very first sentence of this chapter. Referring to how so much of public discourse as "dangerous nonsense" is quite right. I am not sure what was going in Postman's time but our obsession with celebritie news and sports-all fun to watch but essentially blinding us to important issues in the world. Many of these issues we are so ignorant about directly affect us.

I disagreed with Postman's statement "In the Age of Show Business and image politics, political discourse is emptied not only of ideological content but of historical content, as well." I have been strongly influenced by the political discourse this election year and I am sure that the millions more voters that have showed up to vote have been motivated by the ideological differences among the candidates because of how profound they are.

ShaunaO said...

I agree on the statement that “No matter what is depicted or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure” (pg.87). He is referring to TV in this quote. This quote is true because although for the most part TV was made for entertainment, even the news is becoming fun and exciting to watch. Although the stories are real and could be tragic, the way they are presented is still entertaining and sometimes the stories are put off as not being very important by the attractive newscasters.

I disagree on the statement “Television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it” (84). Although TV might keep a person from reading or doing something more important or educational, it can still amplify literate culture. For instance, you could learn about something through TV, then be intrigued enough to read more about it. Or you could watch a movie, find out it is also a book, then read the book. Therefore, although TV will not be as good for your mind as reading a book, it could extend into making someone want to learn, therefore reading to become more literate.

Rachel B. said...

Disagree: On page 106, Postman makes a claim that “Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.” In support of this statement, he goes on to discuss the Iranian Hostage Crisis and how it was all over the news stations for an extended period of time. He then suggests there is something wrong with viewers who saw these stories but are unable to identify what language the Iranians speak, what certain words mean, the history of their country, and what they believe. I don’t think this is a fair claim, because language, history, and religion were not what people were concerned about as far as the crisis went. I assume they only cared about the hostages, and these other facets of Iranian life were completely unconnected to the situation. I don’t think it’s fair to say we are uninformed because we don’t know every aspect of another culture, even if we have some interest in it at one time in history.

Agree: When Postman discusses television commercials on page 128, he states that “the television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed…[but] about the character of the consumers of products.” He means that commercials are about the people they feature, not about the products they sell. I agree with this statement and think it is still relevant today, perhaps even more so than when Postman wrote the book. Some commercials leave you wondering what the ad was even selling—but you do know that a gorgeous girl or guy was selling it. Also, some commercials feature celebrities to sell the product solely because they are famous—for example, Jessica Simpson’s acne cream or Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfume. We remember these commercials more for the people than for the products.

Nicky Piszczor said...

Postman Part II

Agree: "The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of the products...The television commercial has oriented business away from making products of value and toward making consumers feel valuable." p.128

More recently, I think commercials are really trying to reach out to the consumer and create a feel for the product that they can identify with instead of just listing all the qualities of the product. Companies are now trying to create an essence, an emotion, behind their products that consumers want to feel themselves with motivates them to buy the product.

Disagree: "Parents embraced 'Sesame Street' for several reasons, among them it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children's access to television...'Sesame Street' relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read - no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance." p. 142

"Sesame Street" was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, and I think it's terrible of him to say that parents are using TV because they are too lazy to teach their children how to read. First of all, I don't know think the majority of parents are relying on television shows to teach their children everything, and most parents continue to interact with their children in real life. Besides, I don't think the majority of parents consider their children to be just a "nuisance." I would like to think, anyways, that parents love their children and want them in their lives.

Kristin said...

Agree: (pg154) "They will have learned that learning is a form of entertainment or, more precisely, that anything worth learning can take the form of an entertainment, and ought to." I think that the media has shaped the way our world looks at learning, and expects a more "instant gratification" style of learning, with a high entertainment value. Back before the days of television, people had to learn by reading, and working towards attaining knowledge, instead of just having it handed to them in a 30 minute program.

Disagree - "We accept the newscasters' invitation because we know the "news" is not to be taken seriously, that it is all in fun, so to say." (pg87). I don't believe that the newscasters portray the news with lightheartedness all the time, and second of all, newscasters show a wide range of emotions about the news. The main reason for not showing the appropriate fear or apprehension about explaining a topic is a good deal in part to the concept of "mass hysteria" which could be caused by this. Since we trust our newscasters, for the most part, we tend to base our reactions off of their emotions. If the newscasters did not seem to think something, like Y2K, was a horrible threat, the public would not, for example, go out and buy tons of groceries to be prepared.