Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Marshall McLuhan: Film Critic, Political Strategist

Marshall McLuhan:  Film Critic, Political Strategist

Rod Dreher bites into media ecology, at long last…

“Cultures shaped by the printed word prized logic, reason and dispassion. But a global culture conditioned by television—which is to say, by the power of sound and image—to process information a certain way, Mr. McLuhan taught, will revert to pre-modern modes of thought. It will be more emotional, more tribal, less trusting of traditional authority and more inclined to privilege individual judgment. And it will have more political and religious extremism.

If you want to see what can happen to leaders who don’t understand the political effect of the revolution in consciousness Mr. McLuhan prophesied, go see the Oscar-nominated film The Queen. The drama, which concerns a crisis in the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, is a McLuhanesque parable of how traditional authority and the power that comes with it can slip through the fingers of those who don’t understand how television and mass media have utterly transformed everything they’ve touched.”

phlog ::: from publisher :::



It thinks its hardly appropriate to call Mr. McLuhan a “conservative” in its current usage.  And incredibly inappropriate to link his sentiments to those of the current administration.

The author adeptly realises the current administrations inability to account for changes in new media.  What he doesn’t realise is that the current administrations foreign policy in Iraq is in direct opposition to this media trend.  As electronic media continue to spread and become more involving, the ties of nationalism,patriotism, and imperialism(a product of the written word) dissolve. 

to quote mcluhan:

“in an electric media environment minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other.  Our new environment compels commitment and participation.  We have become irrevocably involved with and responsible for eachother.”

in essence:  public consent to the war was a product of the old forms of mass media.  A medium in which the author correctly acknowleges the administrations mastery. 

the eventual loss of the war in iraq will be a testiment to the power of these new electronic media, which decentralise power by design.  Much like guerrila warfare defeated and replaced the old “stand in a line and get shot at” method.

And, not even Goebbels with a cell phone and a Myspace profile could stop it.

Posted by OnTheMend on 24 Feb 07 at 04:31 AM

Nice post—who is calling McLuhan a conservative?  And who is aligning him with the current administration?  I seem to be missing your point, because neither I nor the writer of the linked article, so far as I can tell, is a fan of either the war or the current administration.  But to note the ongoing relevance of Master McLuhan, well, that’s always worth linking, no?

Posted by publisher on 24 Feb 07 at 06:31 PM

perhaps i was a bit quick to judge, yet it seems like the author , by mentioning mcluhan’s religion and politics at the begining is attempting to annex mcluhan into the religious right…which annoyed me.

to quote the article:

“America needs to deploy a commander with the conceptual depth of a Marshall McLuhan and the ruthless brilliance of a Joseph Goebbels”

its seems to me his version of what the administration “should” do lies somewhere between intense propaganda and genocide.

aside from this the author makes use of “the war on terror”...refers to iraqis as “jihadis”...and uses “we” several times to refer to the administration

All this aside the article was thought provoking and funny at times.

My beef is with his arguement that the administration might find some use in manipulation of the more decentralised forms of electronic media…which goes against mcluhans argument of how those media may function

it seems like he author is advocating a change in content…the basis of mcluhan’s “medium is the message” is that content is irrelevant.

Anyhow, any reference to mcluhan’s relevence is definately worth linking
and I thank you for doing so. It’s given me an interest in seeing “the queen”.


Posted by OnTheMend on 25 Feb 07 at 06:16 AM

The author is Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons, which is itself a bit of genre-blender, or else an old-school oxymoron, take your pick.  Either way, he’s a smart writer who’s not so easily pigeonholed, though I could certainly see your case for “reading into” some portions of his article.  But the evidence that Crunch Conservatives exist, and are growing, is well documented in Dreher’s book, even if you gag on the coyness of his term (which in all likelihood, is a publisher’s marketing hook, and not much more).  Full Disclosure:  Dreher quotes me in his book, and so I’m especially impressed that he’s now writing articles which reference chapter and verse of McLuhan.  I’d like to take all the credit for turning Dreher on to McLuhan, but alas, no.  I merely reconfirmed his existing knowledge and ongoing interest in the media guru.

Posted by publisher on 26 Feb 07 at 07:24 PM
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