The genre is the message

When one travels between cultures one realises that there is no single way for a medium to be. The medium shapes the message, but it does not determine it. It is only cultural habit which says that television should consist of rolling news or of an over-stimulating mixture of reality tv, soaps, sit-coms and makeover shows. DVDs can be used for things other than movies and porn. Songs can last for more than three minutes and not have 4:4 beats to the bar and they can be about subjects other than violence and sex.

In the West, our primary genre is entertainment. We use our media to amuse and distract us. The media are the opiates of the people.

Elsewhere the very same media are used to inform and educate and to indoctrinate and inflame. The back-story of British Asian terrorists always mentions dvds of western atrocities. Soviet television was notoriously humourless and doctrinaire. You only have to skip through the internet to find an alien and intimidating bredth of human thought and expression.

So I would update McLuhan and say “The genre is the message”.

Or maybe I’m missing the point.


4 responses to “The genre is the message

  1. Speaking of which, I just love the new look.

    And because people are so used to the Meedja being solely entertaining, they have no concept any more of learning and argument being in themselves enjoyable. Just this morning on the bus I was reading a book of essays on the difficulties of being a woman and a writer and therefore being faced with being shoe-horned into a ‘Woman Writer’. A colleague who gets on at the same stop asked me why I was reading it on the bus. I must have looked bewildered because she went on to say ‘It’s not a fun book, so why read it while commuting?’. After all, I disagreed with about 60% of the articles in the book and found several of them annoyingly abstruse But to me it was a fun book. I like ranty polemic academic tomes. I said as much. I may as well said my mother was a hamster and my father smelled of elderberries.

    Or have I meandered right off subject now?

  2. I’d rather read or watch something interesting than something amusing but brainless. Most of the time. Of course, I’d prefer it if it managed to be both interesting and entertaining. To amuse me and make me think. Brecht managed it. Well, sometimes. Maybe I want too much from the various media, but it is exciting to find things that manage to do multiple things at once. I can be bored by the media not being entertaining enough, and by the media being too entertaining. I think I’m rambling as well now!

  3. I like this look too, Ag. I think I’ll keep it – though I may substitute a photo of my own for the rather fabulous night sky, if I take one I like enough.

    I rather like CrapTV(tm) – but I do use it as an analgesic, and I rather like ChickLit for much the same reason. But just chocolates makes you sick, fat, spotty and malnourished.

    Thanks for reading, guys, and thanks for commenting.



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