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

By robertsm1 Nov 05, 2008 363 Words
Amusing Ourselves to Death: A Public Discourse in the Age of Bussiness, is a book by Neil Postman. Postman’s objective in writing this was to shed light on the role media (mostly television) plays in the medicating of the common people and their abilities to distinguish between wht is actual news and fact from what is simply amusement. Throughout his book, Postman attempts to distinguish between three different worlds; Orwellian, Huxleyan, and what he (Postman) sees as the world of today and the world that is to be. The Orwellian version of the future sees the world dominated by totalitarian government(s) where everyone has been stripped of their individual rights and freedoms. Aldous Huxley’s version sees the future as one in which the people have medicated themselves into an ingnorant bliss while they are voluntarily surrendering their rights as individuals. Postman’s view, however, incorporates some of both but leans more towards Huxley’s versions. Postman’s interpretation of what he sees as the future is one in which entertainment (especially T.V.) have become a drug for the world and sees all peoples throughout the globe giving up their rights and freedoms all for the sake of entertainment.

From his visions and insights into what he sees as the decline of the rational and self-capable human, Postman builds his essential argument, which he uses to build other arguments. The argument is this; that a particular medium, like television, can only espouse parallel ideas. This means that by giving up your rights in favor of entertainment and amusement, you are only allowing yourself to be influenced by one thing (media) and thus can only entertain ideas derived from that. Rational, competant argument is a fundamental factor in wirting, which cannont be communicated through visual mediums like television. Because of this, Postman argues that topics like politics, business, economics, and religion become watered down and diluted, essentially making the, “news of the day,” nothing more than a product for consumption. The quality therefor becomes less important which inturn makes all data nothing more than mere components in the creation of satisfying entertainment for the blissfully ingonorant and medicated masses.

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