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Chapter 5: The Age of Show Business (Amusing Ourselves to Death)

Chapter 5: The Age of Show Business

The supra-ideology for all television conversation is entertainment. No matter what is depicted, the main presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure. When news shows provide us with fragments of tragedy and barbarism, we are urged by the news anchors to “join them tomorrow.”

What for? You would think that several minutes of murder and mayhem gives us enough material for a month of night without sleep. but we accept the news anchor’s invitation because we know that the “news” isn’t to be taken seriously – it is all in fun. Everything about a news show suggests this, the good looks and likeability of the cat, the friendly banter, the exciting music that opens and closes the show, the funny commercials – these and more suggest that there is no cause for weeping.

A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis. And we must not judge too harshly those who have framed it in this way. They are not assembling the news to be read, or broadcasting it to be heard. They are televising the news to be seen. They must follow where their medium leads.

This is not a conspiracy, but merely a recognition that good television has nothing to do with exposition or other forms of verbal communication and everything to do with what pictures look like.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show BusinessChapter 5: The Age of Show Business (Amusing Ourselves to Death) 1

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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