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Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives.

Todd Gitlin. Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives. New York: Metropolitan, 2002.

This book explores a wide range of media, from video games to elevator music, action movies to reality shows, billboards to waiting-room TV, and punditry to Internet exhibitionism, to evoke a world of relentless sensation, instant transition, and continuous stimulation. Its author, Todd Gitlin, shows how, in their nonstop quest for novelty, the media foster distraction and inattention; how "all-media, all-the-time" promotes celebrity cults, paranoia, and irony; and how any attempt to fend off media becomes the occasion for more media. Rather than an unambiguously positive "new information age," Gitlin believes the media frenzy encourages disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens the development of an informed electorate.

Gitlin, a New York University professor and the author of Inside Prime Time, The Twilight of Common Dreams, and six more books, argues that when it comes to media analysis we see the trees but not the forest. Media reviews may carefully scrutinize what the media is doing, but they overlook Marshall McLuhan's basic admonition: the medium is the message. And that message is being delivered in an unending stream of manufactured images and sounds that threatens to drown out our ability to think in a rational and reflective manner.

Part thoughtful analysis, and a charged polemic, Media Unlimited asks that we consider media, not just what we see on TV, hear on the radio, or read in the newspaper, as a complex environment--a place where rivers flow with projected images, forests are groves of sounds, and the sky is filled with advertisements. And, while it may be a challenge for adults to construe media in this manner, it is even more of a problem for young people, since they are so susceptible to media's lures. In their case, if I may offer a suggestion, the schools can play an important role by providing media literacy education.

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Title Annotation:Books
Author:Levinson, Martin H.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2003
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