Presidential debates might be the single political event where Marshall McLuhan’s infamous phrase “the medium is the message” rings most true. Candidates know well that content takes the back seat, perhaps even stuffed in the trunk, during these hyper-performative news events. The video above of McLuhan on the Today show analyzing a Ford-Carter debate from 1976 is well worth a watch. The professor’s points still ring provocative this morning after the first Obama-Romney debate of 2012; a debate that treated the Twitter-prosumer as a television-consumer and thoroughly failed the social medium. more...
Check out The Big Ideas podcast over at The Guardian UK today for a quick discussion of his work. The CBC has a very good article. Also, check out some Cyborgology posts on McLuhan, including his 1969 Playboy interview, Sheppard Fairey’s redesign ofThe Medium is the Message and perhaps most interesting is a website cataloging McLuhan’s video appearances.
How relevant is McLuhan today? In which disciplines? How about outside of academia?
Shepard Fairey, that designer most famous for creating (stealing?) the iconic Obama image, has designed the cover for the new edition of Marshall McLuhan’s famous book, The Medium is the Massage. Fairey is known for creating art that often makes reference to the way propaganda is used by the powerful to control the masses into obeying. In fact, Fairey’s famous “OBEY” graphic is a reference to John Carpenter’s brilliant 1988 film about consumer culture, They Live (plot: with the help of special sunglasses, advertisements are revealed as actually reading, “obey,” “consume” and so on). Be it advertising, print, television or social media, McLuhan’s points remain important.
“Electrical Information Devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know”. more...
I am a big fan of Marshall McLuhan and think he is due for a well-timed comeback in this the year of his centennial. I posted this great Playboy interview a while back and am now fixated with a new website called McLuhan Speaks. This site archives short video clips of our media prophet in action.
Click the images below to watch some of my favorite short clips from the site.