A Return to Understanding Media

 

 To understand the phenomena that is Donald Trump, I went straight to the source. The source in terms of understanding media is Marshall McLuhan.  McLuhan wrote Understanding Media over 50 years ago, and I wanted to find out if the ideas that were revolutionary then might still apply in the Computer Age.

 
Sure enough, some of the controversies and media hype surrounding this campaign season were things that could be plugged in to the ideas McLuhan wrote about in the sixties. For example, the idea of subliminal acceptance was one that McLuhan equated to be like a prison without walls. “If you cannot see where you are going, how can you be free?”, he asks. In that sense, the type of mindless pabulum that we, as viewers and consumers of mass media, have been subjected to, not only in the political campaigns, but through television and electronic devices and mass media at large come into question.

 
We have become numb and disbelieve practically everything we hear or read! That’s one of the take-aways from this election season. It’s no wonder that the Pied Piper in the form of Donald Trump has mesmerized people by telling them to wake up. He is figuratively slapping people in the face and telling them to stop the subliminal acceptance that is around us. Bernie Sanders has done the same.

 It’s thinking outside the box that people profess to admire. And it’s akin to one of my favorite films. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lives in a black and white world until she opens the door to Oz and discovers this beautiful new world surrounded by bright flowers and little people wearing gorgeously colored clothes. That is the figurative reasoning for the 21stCentury acceptance of the Trump phenomenon.

 

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