Archive for the ‘Marshal McLuhan’ Category

By Marcus Ray

“The media of communication affect society principally by changing the dominant structures of taste and feeling, by altering the desired forms of experience” (Carey, p.94). James W. Carey speaks of the second of two ‘remarkable insights’ that McLuhan has discussed in his career. The fact that media is able to alter the way we percieve things shows the considerable impact they have in societies.

The use of print and the use of electronic media give two different forms of experience all together. Speaking of print, Carey stated that “no one means of experiencing the world would dominate as printing had among educated classes for centuries” (Carey, p.94). Print created a new thurst for knowledge that didn’t exist before the mass production of books, because people just couldn’t access the information at any time they wanted.

Electronic media, on the other hand, changed the society that print had made. It created a whole new age of ideas, an age where ideas could be shared and discussed at any time with any person. A new experience of media had risen where ideas came from all angles. Carey said that “electronic communication would jumble experience and creatively juxtapose ideas, forms and experiences previously disseminated in different and isolated ways,” he also mentioned that it would “create new patterns of knowledge and awareness, a new hunger for experience, in much the same way that printing, by assembling the sacred and the profane, the new and the traditional, the exotic and the mundane, the practical and the fanciful in the same printer’s workshop led to a decisive alteration in modern taste.”

The large difference between print and electronic media created a major change in how the media could be used. Once electronic media was introduced advertisements were almost inescapable. Corporations took advantage of the new technology as it was assumed to dominate print.

Society is affect by the millions of advertisements all over the internet. It has created a model of humans that see advertisements as part of the environment. It blurs the line between what is true and what is false, as adverisements are always using ‘misleading’ language to attract consumers.

It also creates a false sense of taste as well, as people are given reasons for why they should buy products, as if they couldn’t think of their own reasons themselves. It also toys with emotions, sometimes making the consumer feel guilty about themselves, saying that if they don’t buy the product they either won’t fit in or will have some kind of personal defect.



The Toronto School of Communication Theory


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By Marcus Ray

“The era of instantaneous electronic communications, McLuhan claimed, would engender a ‘discarnate man’ whose identity was no longer contained in a physical body but extended through wires or broadcast through space” (Blondheim; Watson, p.19).

This quote from The Toronto School of Communication Theory sums up an idea that Marshal McLuhan had about the effects of media taking away the private life. He predicted “the loss of both identity and privacy in the era of electronic communications” (Blondheim; Watson, p.19). This theory is more relevant than ever before as social networking sites and retail corporations sell customer’s information to advertisers. Also, the sharing of information in social networking sites reveals more information than should be known.

Signing up to points cards, charge cards, mailing lists, and websites may seem to have benefits, but all of that information that you give away can be a valuable asset depending on the company. “The FTC has acted before to protect consumer privacy on the Web. In 1998, the FTC forced GeoCities to post a notice on privacy after determining the community site misled customers when it asked them to provide personal information it eventually shared with marketing firms,” says Greg Sandoval of Cnet.com. Corporations simply aren’t clear on what they intend to do with the information.

Websites are the absolute worst for selling information. Facebook is a prime example, as some of its privacy policies are in direct violation of Canadian law. Caroline McCarthy of Cnet.com writes that “while it’s easy for members to deactivate their accounts, it’s less clear on how to actually delete them,” meaning that once we think we’re finished with Facebook, it retains our information. “Facebook therefore can retain member data from deactivated accounts for an indefinite period of time, which is in violation of a Canadian privacy law,” states McCarthy, pointing out that the world’s most popular social networking site, with 12 million users in Canada, has gotten away with the violation of this law for so long.

On social networking sites, more information that just addresses, emails, and phone numbers are shared. Entire thought processes of simple everyday events are shared to the world, whether or not anyone cares. We tell everyone what we believe in, who we worship, what we did last night, or even what we’re doing right now. Rather than the individuals keeping to themselves, they extend their personal lives to others through these websites taking away their entire private life. G. Jayashanker of associatedcontent.com says, “what happens unfortunately with the online medium of communication is that people forget their boundaries and begin to extent their comfort zone to far beyond respectable limits for themselves.” They begin to become too comfortable with the impersonal side of social networking, revealing more information to strangers than they ever would in person.






The Toronto School of Communication Theory by Rita Watson and Menahem Blonheim

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By Jhansher Khan

Well I want to go back to an older theory that McLuhan put forth and analyze it since it can be applied in modern society. Okay so the big question is, do we actually pay attention to advertising? Well of course we do, if we like it or not. There are two types of media that McLuhan proposed, “hot” media and “cool” media. “Hot” media as McLuhan says, takes more of a passive approach when listening. It’s understandable why we tend not to analyze “hot” media, since these mediums such as the television and radio do not require our utmost attention most of the time. We tend to just absorb everything the media or to go even further, “advertising” informs us about. We fail to question advertising, as well as its overall motives. “Cool” media is when we actually actively participate in “filling in the gaps”, with mediums such as the newspaper and literature for example where we can actually filter out messages that are relevant to us. Yes, we can also do this with “hot” media, but not as effectively since it is difficult to go back and review points for example since messages are basically said in short spans of time. For example, the radio, you may hear something that interests you, but you less likely to “fill in the gaps” since the radio already conveys a message to the listener and the listener happens to take on a more passive role in return.

This brings about the question of “audience”, are we dominated or pluralistic? Do we select what we want to hear or do we listen to everything the media conveys? It tends to be a mix of both, it really depends on the consumer. Some consumers of these messages may internalize these messages while others do not. However, it seems that there is more of a transition towards a pluralistic society. During the 1950’s, society was very much controlled by the printing press and not many bothered to question motives of advertisers. However, during the modern age, yes we are still consuming more and corporations are expanding rapidly, but there is more questioning occurring as a result. Take for instance, Morgan Spurlock, the creator of a documentary called, “Super Size Me”, he questioned practices performed by McDonalds and tried to expose their real intentions as a rich and greedy corporation. Documentaries like these in turn also causes consumers to question what they are consuming. Therefore, there seems to be more “Pluralism” in this case. According to an article called, “How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?” by Demetrios Vakratsas and Tim Ambler, there is a certain model that advertisers use to get our attention. The abbreviation known as “AIDA”(26) is proposed to be a model that is behind advertising. It stands for:

Attention——> Interest——–>Desire———->Action

This is an effective model and is actually relevant to how messages are conveyed to us. First they grab consumer attention, get them interested, show them how they would benefit from a product and/or idea and then the consumer acts on it. Within the same article there is a table displaying “A Framework for Studying How Advertising Works”(26)

Demetrios Vakratsas., Tim Ambler. (1999). How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?. Journal of Marketing, Pp.26. 63

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By Marcus Ray

In The Toronto School of Communication Theory, an Marshall McLuhan has an excellent theory mentioned by James W. Carey that states: “Forms of communication such as writing, speech, printing and broadcasting should not be viewed as neutral vessels carrying given and independently determined meaning.” In a pluralistic society such as ours, or even a dominant society, where one only one view exists, it is important to realize that neutral views are a rarity. McLuhan then proposed that “these forms be considered technologies of the intellect, active participants in the process by which the mind is formed and in turn forms ideas.” Every message that is put out through media is no simple message. They all have a purpose to sway opinion and alter thought.

One point of this entry is to claim that no message delivered through any media should be taken as an innocent remark or statement. In no way am I declaring that all advertisements are concentrated evil, that would be a little over the top. I am saying, however, that they all want your attention, and in most cases, your money, so viewer beware. It’s the simple process of socialization that everyone should be aware of: our surroundings shape who we are. It’s this that makes advertising easier for corporations.

That being said, the main point of this entry is to say that an education of media is important in today’s society, so that people may be aware of the intentions and purposes of advertising. Would it not be better to be educated on media before we get educated (or uneducated) by media. Interpreting each and every aesthetic or social aspect in advertisements isn’t what needs to be done, but simply analyzing why the ad is really there. Corporations spend money to make money, and billions of dollars isn’t spent for nothing. To show how bad they want your attention, here is an interesting figure: www.zenithoptimedia.com published a report stating that the advertisement budget for 2009 in the world is an estimated $495 billion. Think about it this way: How much money in comparison to that figure is spent on things that are actually important. Either way, it shows the power and influence behind the media, and the disgusting amounts of money they are willing to spend to get to you.

An article by written by Jessica Shepherd on www.guardian.co.uk states that people need to teach children as young as five to beware of advertisements. There could be quite a few arguments made on how these corporations offer opportunities that they may not have otherwise had, but in the long run, I think they could do fine without them. The main argument against this is that it’s appalling to see that five-year-olds have become such a large target market. It’s difficult enough getting adults to be aware of this concern.

N. E. Marsden, an educator specialized in media research said on www.huffingtonpost.com that corporations now are not only having advertisements placed in television shows, but are paying to alter the scripts to give the product more attention. “The problem cannot be overstated,” she says. “Directly ahead, we face a hostile takeover of the public airwaves — not to mention the invasion of movies, youth novels, videogames, music videos, songs and even comic books. Giddy marketers are gushing about the prospect of controlling media, instead of just sponsoring it.”

If all of this is true, we may have to revise how we watch television, how we surf the web, and how we walk through malls and streets. Their power is taken for granted, and as I mention in my previous blog about manipulation, there are powerful people who’s life job is to discover easy access into the public mind. The only way to prevent this is to educate yourself on the methodologies and epistemologies of the media. It could be much more important than we realize.





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By Jhansher Khan

Determinism, is the idea that we must think in extremes and only through one model or idea. However, when assessing a reason for why anything occurs, there is more likely multiple reasons and explanations that are at hand. The theorist I would like to bring up, whom is very deterministic would be Marshal McLuhan. His type of view is that society changes due to thriving technology and that is the only driving factor in this case. In the book, “The Toronto School of Communication Theory: Interpretations, Extensions, Applications,” the author states, “What about the institutional power and political implications of electronic communication?”(86)

It is true that besides technology, there are political and corporate factors at play. According to McLuhan’s view, society is heavily ingrained in the idea of the printing press, since that is where technology seemed to begin in the media and newspapers were one of the first mediums in society. Newspapers were a source of enrichment and education, as well as an outlook of the outside world. Through this medium, the media was able to exercise its own power and domination over people in society. It could be at times bias or misleading as well, which brings in the idea of how the political and corporate world begin to use these mediums, as well as the idea of cultural factors being imbedded behind messages. If a government for example wanted to use this medium to justify acts of war for example, through the newspaper, a one sided biased article may explain how the government essentially has the right to invade another country. Therefore, the use of mediums can lead to corruption and deceit in society.

As technology developed over time, new mediums were formed and generally the same messages and the idea of control was implemented. The invention of televisions, the radio, and computers for example are used in modern times. All this new technology did was open up a new window of opportunity for the corporate and political world to reach us in society. This idea of reaching us and conveying messages to us has been implemented for years, regardless of technology. The only major change is that it is now much easier to convey messages across to us, since the mediums we use in modern day society can be flooded with advertisements put forth by corporations. Therefore, we are more manipulated now than ever.

An advertisement does not necessarily just sell products, but presents us with certain ideas that corporations want us to absorb in everyday lives. Even the political world may use advertising, it is not just limited by the corporate world. One example that was more prevalent in the past two years was the idea of Barrack Obama running as a presidential candidate in the United States of America in the democratic party. Certain ideas were created in his campaign, such as the idea of “change” during the aftermath of an economic crisis caused by the previous government. There were multiple advertisements for his campaign and he eventually took a stand in popular culture as some sort of political prophet that would take office and would succeed in completely reshaping the United States of America.

“Barack Obama looks more like a movie star than a politician”

Here is an article by CNN, that has already analyzed the idea of Obama as a pop culture figure:

Not only did his reach take effect in North America, in other countries around the world that praised him. Even products that certain companies made had the label of “Obama” on them. (I’ll attach a few pictures to give examples) He was basically seen as a charismatic leader and a sign of hope, much like other political influential leaders, such as Nelson Mandella in South Africa. It wasn’t just a simple election. Something originally intended to be just in the realm of the political world, extended its reach into the corporate world as well. Everyday, before he was eventually elected into power, citizens of the United States of America were always reminded of his change campaign and all of the positive hope he presented to society. Through multiple advertisements presented on T shirts, pins to his face on practically every magazine, advertising was effectively implemented and practically being treated like a pop icon may have tremendously helped him win the election. Yet once again, this is an example of the political world at play and its relation to advertising.

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By Marcus Ray

The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (http://www.gingkopress.com/02-mcl/mechanical-bride.html) is Marshall McLuhan’s first book on media. Although it wasn’t popular, it did outline the three main underlying themes that continue appear in advertisements. The purpose of the book was to both show how corporations put so much effort to gain access into the heads of consumers. By doing this they use messages that stand out, mostly consisting of violence, sex, or death.

Manipulation is the key purpose for these advertisements, as the suggestions made by their powerful messages stand out. They attempt to give more aggressive reasons to purchase products by using models for beauty products, men and women domiating eachother in clothing ads, and list goes on.

The thing that troubles me most is not the sex or the violence, but the death. Looking through advertisements its frightening how death is portrayed in them. In the context of the advertisement some of them might be able to taken as funny, but some are just dark. It is interesting how these ads succeed. How does a woman, pale in the face and

At least she died wearing Versace?

 unconscious, lying on a pile of crumpled up newspapers, sell diamond necklaces? Of course she’s wearing the necklace, but when I see this advertisement I’m not thinking about diamonds, I’m thinking “why hasn’t anyone helped this woman?” That is one form of advertising I will never understand. Whether it represents some artistic form of natural beauty or diamonds as a form of revitalizing an image I can’t tell, but these advertisements should reconsider their approach.

Both sexuality and violence is portrayed here, as a man in "Diesel" jeans gets whipped

Manipulation in the forms of sex in violence is something more understood by me, but still unnecessary. It is so easy to use advertising to attack the self-esteem of target markets, and thats where these two topics thrive. Jean commercials are prime examples, as women slightly more broad than a twig pose under unreal circumstances, such as surrounded by fire, or being chased by an army of sweaty mean. The ideas that are placed into consumers minds from these are all too hopeful for an article of clothing.

McLuhan speaks of educated professionals dedicating all of their time towards creating these ads to manipulate us. The consumption of these ads can be dangerous for a society because it gives new meaning to products. It changes  our perspectives by exposing us to unrealistic ideas. These ideas make people want to be more like the people in the advertisements, so they purchase the product and begin to create a false identity, losing a part of themselves in the process. So not only do these advertisements manipulate small thoughts of whether or not to purchase certain items, but for some they can manipulate our whole identity.

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By Marcus Ray

“We’re more concerned with what the group knows, of feeling as it does, of acting with it, not without it” –Marshall McLuhan


This video is a CBC interview of Marshall McLuhan from 1960 where he talks about his idea of the global village. It is interesting to see how that idea, now almost 50 years old, is more accurate than ever. More specifically on that idea, McLuhan spoke about how the media changed the individual man and woman into the tribal man and woman. The individual is a person who reads books to gain knowledge of the world, while the tribal person is one who gains knowledge of the world through new forms of media.

The individuals read by themselves, acquiring knowledge word by word and taking time to decode it. It requires no other person to learn.

The tribal ones are described by McLuhan as frequent users of the media. They learn of events through the television, and they learn all at once, rather than individually. As McLuhan put it, “The World is now like a contually sounding tribal drum,” and by this he means that in relation to the tribal aspect, everyone now hears everything at once. He goes further into this by saying that world has become a single unit, and we feel and hear things all at once. We have become tribal because we have slipped away from being individualists and have turned into people who are concerned more with the group than the individual.

When the main medium was the book information was mass produced, however, it wasn’t produced in such a way that all recievers would hear it at the same time. With television and radio we see and hear events all around the world at the same time as thousands or even millions of viewers, and the news is heard by world.

To use Haiti as an example, because of modern day media the whole World was aware of these traumatic events within a few days. Even irrelevant information about celebrities makes its way around the world just as fast. Rather than information staying in a country, state, city, or village like it would in the past, the entire world hears nearly everything, whether or not it is important. That is why the World has become one. Borders and boundaries will begin to lose their importance, and the idea of the individual will disappear.

Now to bring this all back to advertising. Today tribalism in McLuhan’s view has taken over in Western societies. If you are still an individualist, you wouldn’t even be reading this, and you basically wouldn’t even be able to go outside. Although books are important the idea of the individual has become more or less a part of the tribalists. Advertisements everywhere become a part of the day’s conversation as we see controversial signs or billboards. We talk to our friends about funny commercials. We go by the beat of the drum that McLuhan speaks of in the video. Once the drum is struck, everyone hears it and responds to it. Similar to once a movie or album comes out, it can be the main topic amongst friends for weeks at a time.

The Washington Post stated in 2007 that in the prior year, one of four Americans had not read a single book (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/21/AR2007082101045.html). Meanwhile the tribal side of humans is running rampant, and Csun.edu reveals this by stating that the percentage of households that %99 of Americans own at least one television (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html#tv_stats). And even more frightening, the average American watches 28 hours of television per week, which equals two full months of non-stop televsion per year. With all of this time spent watching television, it is obvious that the beat of the drum is heard by nearly everyone today, and as advertising grows more powerful, the beat of the drum gets increasingly louder.

In our modern day society, we can’t help but just watch this ‘global village’ grow at a rapid pace. The individual in McLuhan’s eyes has disappeared, seeing as it is impossible now to live a life without exposure to advertisements.

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