THE FIVE MYTHS OF TELEVISION POWER by Douglas Davis

THE FIVE MYTHS OF TELEVISION POWER

or, Why the Medium Is Not the Message
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In an impassioned rebuttal to those who complain that TV enslaves millions of zombielike viewers, freelancer Davis (Newsweek, Vanity Fair, etc.) argues that we neither passively receive--nor are much influenced by--our changing and complex TV technology. Davis tries to disprove five common ``myths'' about TV--that it controls our voting; has destroyed our students; is taken as reality; pacifies us; and seduces us into loving it. He's best at analyzing recent political and social events, including the Clarence Thomas hearings, the 1992 presidential campaign, and Murphy Brown's ``pregnancy.'' Lamenting the dependency on Nielsen ratings in gauging TV's power over children's lives, Davis offers instead his own tiny sample--that of his technologically precocious nine-year-old daughter and her friend, who would rather wend their way through complicated verbal instructions in ``interactive'' video games than watch approved PBS educational shows--hardly conclusive evidence, that most children escape the spell of the tube. On firmer ground, Davis points out the protean nature of the medium, which is fast merging with computers as it evolves into a hybrid form that'll demand more vigilance and intervention from viewers. Critiquing the buzzwords of ``real'' vs. ``fictional'' and citing statistics on the rising national interest in fitness to refute the ``couch potato'' premise, Davis shoots down all five myths and is on target in noting that there's as yet no accurate way of measuring to what extent remote-control zapping and the widespread use of VCRs have undermined our love affair with TV. Gracelessly written but stimulating study that could induce TV critics--and addicts--to redefine the meaning and impact of the medium in their lives.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-73963-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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