Presentation on theme: "Lesson 14 - The Un-TV Experiments Robert Wonser. TV and the Social Construction of Reality What is the purpose of TV? To entertain or to sell us stuff?"— Presentation transcript:
TV and the Social Construction of Reality What is the purpose of TV? To entertain or to sell us stuff? Does the content depend on what you answer is? Who is in charge of what is on TV? The Technical Events Test (T.E.T.) dramatically reveals the functions of the political institution of television (far seeing or ‘seeing far’).
Technical Events Test The T.E.T. reveals TVs purpose: –A) training us to shorten our attention span –B) making ordinary life appear dull –C) injecting a hypnotic quality into our ordinary awareness –D) coercing us into its reality.
Shorten Our Attention Span What were we talking about? Or right… The creation of the jumpy, volatile, scattered and hyper, monkey-mind is reinforced because it is believed to be optimal in generating the consuming type of lifestyle… “…people use the consumption levels and patterns portrayed in TV advertising to elevate their levels of personal well-being while those same consumption patterns are simultaneously devastating the environmental and resource base on which our future depends.” (Elgin 1990:10)
Ordinary Life is Made Dull When you watch TV you are seeing images that are utterly impossible in nature. TV changes the way we experience reality. We become so conditioned into believing what is shown on TV as real, we become skeptical of that which we only personally experience. TVs power lies in disguising its true purpose in our lives People on TV become our reference groups. Most important message from TV? That you need TV. TV is saturated with what our lives are not: sex, violence TV never gives us an opportunity to be bored like real life does.
Hypnosis Unlimited Hypnosis = turning off thought How many of you noted the hypnotic quality of TV?
Coercing us into “reality” Our culture conditions us to need reassurance from the media to reinforce our actions and feelings, our self-perceptions. When we do this we both acknowledge and assume that our personal experiences are not qualified as reality any longer. We no longer do, we watch, and reality is someone else’s creation. Not ours. Have you noticed it’s not until an event flashes across the TV that it becomes reality?
TV without Sound TV programs us not to notice the technical events. Not to notice the details, not to pay attention To watch TV is to become programmed. The TV is an object not a communicator. It is not communicating, but programming. We do not perceive/experience the TV as a device, which it is, but as a reality, which it is not.
The Nature of News: Why No News is Good News Newscasters are no more real than characters on other entertainment shows. Only unusually tragic or triumphant is shown –not the mundane (i.e. “newsworthy”), ordinary routines of our daily lives. The news has fewer technical events—for good reason. Fewer technical events makes the news show appear more realistic relative to other TV shows. It appears super-realistic compared to commercials In TV, technical events weave a narrative, in the news we witness the reduction of worldly news events into a narrative…. Whose narrative?
So what? The problem: not that TV presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that TV presents all subject matter as entertaining. Spills over into post-TV life. In any event or person we seek the entertainment in them, not the social significance, beauty, etc. In the absence of entertainment we usually entertain ourselves with plans for future entertainment. What do you do in class? Why do you get bored? Are you seeking entertainment while ignoring learning? While watching the TV while off how many of you thought about what TV you were missing or how boring it all was? As a result, do we devalue the ordinary? Real life?
TV and the Illusion of Knowing “We love TV because it brings us a world in which television does not exist” – (Ehrenreich 1992). Have you ever noticed how little you see people watching TV on TV? Overall and cumulative effect of TV: heighten our insensitivity to reality. Instead of actually leaving the Platonic cave and going up into the sunlit reality, we merely watch an image of ourselves doing this—and think that that is the same as doing it.
Watching TV with the TV off We have been trained to be bored if we don’t have something entertaining us. TV creates the fantasy of intimacy. You’re “there” while always also being in your familiar surroundings. We identify with the persons in the show: not our co- viewers. We each lock into what TV creates, not each other. We are an audience of one. We are, as a community and as a mass audience, “individualized.” We do not experience ourselves as a member of an audience, or as a member of a community. We have no sense that millions of us are simultaneously engaged Our relationship to the TV replaces our relationship with other spectators.