The media and consumerism go hand in hand. We, and the characters in the book consume media, they are not separate. When the characters sit and watch TV, they are doing the same thing as when they go to the supermarket. Hundreds of channels to choose from with an endless variety, and all sorts of different food, from name brand to generic. They are surrounded by endless choices and bright colors. Both are giving out rays of what Murray in White Noise calls “psychic data” and make the characters feel alive. Both places bring the characters into the world of mass media that they live in, making them feel a part of it, connected, and safe from being different.
Jack Gladney, the book’s main character, is interested in mass media in a very different way than we are used to it today. Death is put in front of him in all aspects of his life. He teaches the Nazi image through propaganda films at the College-on-the-Hill. Alongside these films he watches natural disasters with his family on television. Along with studying Hitler, watching disasters on TV put death right in front of him each day. These deaths, he is told, by historians, or the media, mean something. Hitler’s death is meaningful because people are still talking about it ...
... middle of paper ...
...t of social media makes this quote especially true. The more people someone follows on twitter the more influenced they become, and therefore they become less themselves.
The novel ends with a scene of watching a sunset, then at a supermarket. The sunset scenes are the closest Jack gets to being his own person, just enjoying the things around him without having to attach value to it, but he comes up just short. The people watching are in awe, but do not know whether to be amazed or afraid. They are not told what to think of sunsets. Everything now has a price attached to it, a value based on ad space and air time. Natural beauty does not have this, so they wonder what it means and what its value is. Then the book ends with the supermarket, and Jack articulates exactly what it is and what it means. Natural has become unnatural and unnatural has become natural.
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