Amusing Ourselves to Death and You Just Dont Understand - Essay Example

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The book entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) by Neil Postman is a very thorough analysis of the way that modern media, and specifically television, affects western capitalist societies. …
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Amusing Ourselves to Death and You Just Dont Understand
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"Amusing Ourselves to Death and You Just Dont Understand"

Download file to see previous pages Part one deals with how the American media developed through the ages, with an emphasis on the printed word at first, and then the arrival of the telegraph and radio. These topics are discussed first, in a chronological order, to create a context and fill in the background. Part two looks at modern media, with an emphasis on show business, film and especially television. The structure offers two main arguments: how things have developed first of all, and then what this means for the modern world.
Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand is not arranged chronologically, but rather takes a range of different topics on the subject of men’s language and women’s language and deals with them one by one. It starts very generally, with a description of how women and men are socialized in separate spaces, and develop different techniques. The key phrase “Asymmetry” is introduced (chapter 2) and defined as the gap between the sexes. In the middle chapters more specific topics such as interruptions, and gossip are discussed, and then last chapter (chapter 10) revisits the idea of asymmetry and the author describes what to do about this mis-match, namely to open up lines of communication that both men and women can understand. An afterword written ten years after the first publication reports how successful the book was, and answers some questions which readers and critics have raised. The thematic structure suggests that the subject is being treated as a collection of observations rather than a single line of argument. It allows the author to range freely over many details. Question 2 Postman relies on the earlier ideas of media and culture scholar Marshall McLuhan and notes that “the clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.” (Postman: 1985, p. 8) From this basic observation he moves to a close examination of American discourse, looking at cultural phenomena like Las Vegas, with its focus on high risk and materialism, and the medium of television which offers unintelligent and repetitive material to keep citizens quietly consuming its hidden messages. A key issue for Postman is that dictatorship need not be obvious and violent, like a fascist regime which dominates people’s lives with physical deprivation and misery. A dictatorship can be subtle and deceptive, and television is just such a force. It is not just the message that the media offer, nor even just the medium of presentation that is important, but also the far reaching implications of both of these things together as they impact upon passive viewers. The argument is very convincing because it sums up the commercialization and “dumbing down” of television in the 1980s and 1990s and points out a number of dangers which most people have not been aware of. Deborah Tannen’s book makes many statements about the different ways that men and women use language, and explains that this is often at the root of difficulties which couples have in their relationship. Her argument is based on the discipline of linguistics, and she uses linguistic terminology in quite a technical way, explaining how these features work, and what they imply about male and female gender behaviors. A big feature of the book is its insistence that male and female styles are both equally valid: “Throughout this book, and throughout my work, I take a no-fault approach” (Tannen, 2001, p. 301) This is a laudable aim, but unfortunately the book does not always stick to it, and there is more than a touch of pro-feminist argumentation, for example in chapter on “dominance and control,” which refers to other research but without clear indication of sources. There is a lot ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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I didn’t know how to start my document. "Amusing Ourselves to Death and You Just Dont Understand" helped me out a lot! Especially the list of resources was valuable.
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