Media Unlimited: A Review

Media Unlimited: A Review

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Tonight as I searched for something to watch on television I finally settled with American Idol a new hit show that displays the talent of young individuals on Fox 5. When a commercial came on I thought to myself, "okay what's on next?" I began my second quest of channel surfing, until finally I settle with watching the Parkers on UPN 9. I mentally noted to myself that a commercial last about three minutes and I should turn back to American Idol to see who won. By the time I actually remembered to switch back to channel five I had surfed through almost three hundred channels and twenty minutes had past.

The Author Todd Gitlin of Media Unlimited How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms our lives, would argue that the non-stop images and sounds are central to my life in which I have become accustomed to. I live in a culture of speed and images, which have limited my attention span to false images and fantasy shows. The mass media is controlled by a large number of corporate giants whose main goal and purpose is to sustain a high level of profit. What better what to capitalize on television? Own a lot of broadcast channels and display different shows at the same time all of which will grab our attention with vivid, loud and exciting images. If the media broadcasted television and news based on exactly what is happening in the world, in many instances ratings would drop. The shows would not be watched because the public would find some of the information boring. The purpose of watching the news is to receive useful information about the on goings in society and in the world. Gitlin refers to information provided through the news as a gift. Unfortunately our culture does not appreciate the gift that keeps on giving.

Gitlin notes that broadcasted news does not discriminate. Trivial news and momentous news all fall into the same category, entertainment. The viewers became obsessed with watching reruns of the most recent attack on the world trade center and the damage it has done to our tallest building, yet one question has failed to be asked. How did we get to that tragic point of destruction? Gitlin believes that we only react to supersaturated images and sounds; big pictures, bright lights and headline news. This is all we need to fulfill our hunger for excitement.

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Although the media saturates our lives with over exaggerated images, deceptive stories and limited information it also serves its purpose to fulfill a craving for the need of over stimulated information. Gitlin says we are unable to seek out our own information and develop our own opinions.

Todd Gitlin spends some time naming ways in which we respond to the media. He categorized viewers in one of seven ways; a critic, fan, ironist, jammer, secessionist or abolitionist. The critic tries hard to stay away from being overcome by the media, the fan identifies with the media and the ironist is confident that he media spectacle is nothing more than concocted mechanical devices. The jammer uses the media against it, the secessionist is the one who avoids the media main stream of ell phones and emails and tries to plug his ears directly into the images and sounds while the abolitionist finds definition in trying to bring the system down. I think each of us displays some characteristic of the viewers noted. We respond to each situation differently and we take from what we watch what benefits and excites us.

As the media continues to expand (cable has expanded from one hundred channels to almost eight hundred channels) we find our place in which we feel most comfortable and drawn. Some people still prefer to watch basic channels, while others prefer CNN channels, and I prefer the HBO and Showtime channels. Media is constant; we can find information through the Internet, on the news, when reading newspapers and while listening to the radio. My grandmother's generation was forced to read newspapers and listen to views on the radio regardless of how they felt. Now she and I are able to personalize our television and Internet explorers with our favorite channels. "The torrent of images and sounds" are going to forever be a part of our culture. The media is constantly expanding just as it grows so do we as a culture and as individuals. Therefore our ability to process supersaturated images and discard unnecessary information grows along with it.

Chapter one, the most interesting section of the book focuses on the supersaturating media and it's disposable images. . "Whenever we like, on foot or in vehicles we can convert ourselves into movable notes of communication...the soundscape that others broadcast around us." (Page 19). No matter where we are, communication and connection to fantasy is available. Walking or driving we can become movable forms of contact. Televisions are now being put in the headrest of cars, Discman are becoming smaller and more expensive (the most recent mini Discman cost $300), these electronic devices and many others draw us into the over indulgence in broadcasted media junk. The media news is becoming no different from the soap operates that I record during the afternoon. Both are filled with vague, grasping, never ending story lines, and causing others and myself to tune in everyday for more.

Sadly if the news wasn't shown in such a commercialized way some viewers may not tune in. We have built up expectations for heightened intense and vivid broadcasting network of shows, everything must be fast and bright. Because the broadcasters are trying to capitalize on our attention they have produced a news line up. During different times of the news a time line with specific headlines of what is coming on next is produced. The media is dominated by a few major player most of whose purpose is to make money not to inform. What better way to guarantee high ratings? Show a time line and allow people to surf through your other channels, which you more than likely have, a stock in.

Television is supposed to be used as a tool for the democratic distribution of information. Where is the democracy? There is no democracy when the bases of informational distribution are capitalism.
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