The book named Four Arguments for theElimination of Television was published in 1978. The book is authoredby Jerry Mander and was published by William Morrow Paperbacks.Primarily, the book advocates that the television as a medium ofcommunication is harmful to the user in various ways. Mander isexperienced in media profession and uses his fondness to explain thebroad effects that television has imposed on the society. He hasdivided his arguments into four major categories that comprise ofhundreds of small cases that fit into the named broad groups.According to Mander, the television has numerous problems that areinherent in the medium and technology thus, cannot be reformed. Assuch, the technology determines television`s interaction with theworld and dictates who shall use it and how they will apply it. Thus,this paper seeks to evaluate the arguments for the elimination oftelevision people should stop watching TV.
After looking at the book`s title, table ofcontents, and the introduction, it is apparent that its theme is aproposed link between dangers posed by television and the rot in oursociety today. The fact that the problems of the television areinherent in the technology itself poses extreme danger to thedemocratic process, environment, and personal health/sanity. Theideologies that individuals get from watching most television contenthave led to societal problems as they can organize the public in acertain way. As such, television ought to be eliminated forever.
In essence, the author presents his ideas in aclear manner and is the first to advocate that television as a mediumof communication is not reformable. By uniting personal experiencesthrough thorough research, the author arrays aspects of thetelevision that have rarely been examined. From his discussion, it isnotable that the ideology that technologies are neutral and caringtools that can be used positively or negatively is profound.“If you accept the existence of advertising, you accept a systemdesigned to persuade and to dominate minds by interfering in people’sthinking pattern (Mander 16).” Inhis discussion, information is presented in a lucid and directmanner. Moreover, the author puts into consideration the reader’sbackground information about the television as he explains its powerto erode an individual’s mindset.
Many ideas are not promptly explained as mostof them are based on weak evidence, which is complicated by the lackof sufficient research at the time of publication. However, hisobservations are comprehensible to any TV watcher. For evaluation,this paper will analyze some of the ideas he presents to argue forthe elimination of TV. To begin with is that complex ideas are lostin the manner that television cannot communicate such points even inlong programs designed to educate the audience. For example, aprogram may try to illustrate the destruction of the environment byshowing pictures of trees being cut down other than explaining whythe land had value in the first place. Televisions trend towardsshowing lust, death, violence, and anger because even if the vicesare presented in a negative way in the program, alternatives are notdescribed.
Profoundly, the author depends on opinion andobservation. He recounts that television dangers cannot be avoided bywatching good shows but through discontinuing TV viewing. Forinstance, an individual who watches too much televisionoverdramatizes and has difficulty in communicating and could onlyshun viewing TV to start conversing in the right way. Besides,television acts as a sensory deprivation whereby it implants newreality to the watcher, which is absorbed into his senses. In suchoccurrences, an individual’s natural awareness is eroded by theevents airing on the TV and they start to perceive things in adifferent way. Moreover, watching a given TV program requires thesubject to sit in a quiet place with little activities going on. Assuch, the activities going on and the images being watched can havean extraordinary degree of influence on the viewer as the urge tocontinue tuning for the same program keeps on increasing.
While the TV may seem useful, interesting and worthwhile, it boxesindividual into a physical and mental condition due to its nature ofthe lack of democratic potential. In the illustration, the mediumchooses its content from a narrow field of opportunities, thetechnology limits on what may pass through it, thus confining peoplewithin an inflexible channel. Besides, the medium is autocratic innature as it seems to dictate to individuals on what they should do,for example, in advertisements. Lastly is the unification ofexperience whereby many people confuse television experience with thereal and direct occurrence of the world. “Those who watched thebicycle act believed their experience was different from those whowatched the gorillas or the flame eater, but everyone was at thecircus” (Mander 42).This may dominate an individual’s mind andinterfere with their thinking patterns.
Mander who was a media practitioner wrote thisbook to bring out the harm that channels particularly the televisioncreates in the society through influencing people’s behavior.During his career tenure as a public relations and advertisingexecutive, he learned that it was possible to speak through mediadirectly into people`s minds and leave images in their thoughts thatcan make them act as they might have otherwise thought. As such, theauthor found the need to present arguments that would influence theelimination of television. Apparently, the author`s professionalknowledge and experience provides useful insights regarding how a TVcan influence an individual`s behavior in a negative way. Theauthor`s arguments are affirmative in nature, and they are areflection of what happens in reality only that the facts are notrecorded. The author uses observation and his experience to assertmost of his arguments thus, they are credible. Moreover, even if onecannot verify the sources, the information given is real and occursin most people’s life.
In principle, the author ends his book byrecounting different reasons as to why the TV should be eliminated.He describes how television expresses programs that are dominated byfeelings of anger, humiliation, hatred, and desire among others, thusciting them as the most emotionally loaded. The fictitiousrelationships on the television stand out from the usual events ofeveryday life, and they would not be able to deliver any dramawithout the crisis that is depicted. The author further asserts thatthrough peak contents aired in the news, people are removed fromtheir direct experience as most of the information is drawn from far.Presenting events as they occur does not fit the requisites oftelevision news since the network story must have a definite order,time, and logic. As such, the events presented on TV areinsufficient thus, may not present a natural sequence of events, hasdigressions and inconsistencies hence, would not constitute reality.Moreover, the camera operators and editors concentrate on the mostaction-packed moment, therefore, may air unnecessary events onlybecause they were marred by action.
The author`s suggestion to eliminate the television provides thereader with freedom to choose what content to concentrate on in theirTV network (Mander 145). He equips readers with knowledge regardingthe truth that television events may erode their morals. As such, theknowledge may help individuals develop better habits in their dailylife.
In conclusion, arguments for the elimination of television aspresented in Mander’s book are insightful literature providing thereader with documented reality about the effects of televisionprograms in an individual’s day to day life. Television problemsare inherent in the medium and technology itself as it determines thebasic form of interaction with the world. The events presented in theTV are autocratic and lack democracy as they dictate what the viewerought to do. Moreover, the information presented in the medium hasthe ability influence directly into people`s mind and their way ofacting. The insights provided in the book provide a broader conceptof the source of some vices that are prevalent in our society today.Therefore, the book is practical, and I would recommend it to variousreaders since it would equip them with useful knowledge.
Mander, Jerry. Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television.New York: Morrow, 1978. Print.