Sunday, July 30, 2006

aaaaa! amusing ourselves to death was right!

I just got a chill. I realized that the science and general idea of global warming/climate change, a complex and huge topic even to the scientific experts, came on to the cultural rader in a big way through a movie. Think about that. I'm sure there are many deep scientific debates, but the standard mode of the public is indifference. Until...it's a movie. The movie has not contributed anything strictly factual to the discussion; all the movie did was present it in a different medium.

The reason for my chill was that I've read Amusing Ourselves to Death, which was written in the 80s, before the rise of the WWW for example, but its material is eerily prophetic of the current time. The point of the book is that our dominant mode of discourse switched from mass-produced documents like books and newspapers to mass-produced (transmitted) motion pictures like TV and movies. Along with that shift came a shift in thinking style, literacy, and even our entire lifestyle. In the age of "show business", people form opinions differently. "A picture is worth a thousand words" is not just a quaint saying, but the motto of this age. If you wish to make your point, you don't write a pamphlet like Paine's Common Sense and distribute it around. You make a documentary in which you carefully present all footage so that it supports your cause *cough* Michael Moore *cough*. The name of the game is not reasoned debate, but the manipulation of immediate emotional reactions, by both sides.

I could go on and on about this, but I bet you got the point, since you haven't switched to a different website/channel already. It can't be good when the predictions of this book, which seems to claim that we are losing the skill of coherent thought, are coming true.

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