Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978) is a book by Jerry Mander, who argues that many of the problems with television are inherent in the medium and technology itself, and thus cannot be reformed.
Mander spent 15 years in the advertising business, including five as president and partner of Freeman, Mander & Gossage, San Francisco, a nationally-known advertising agency.
In an interview with Nancho.net's W. David Kubiak, Mander summarizes his book:
Well, one of the points of the book is that you really can't summarize complex information. And that television is a medium of summary or reductionism - it reduces everything to slogans. And that's one criticism of it, that it requires everything to be packaged and reduced and announced in a slogan-type form.
But let me say this: the book is not really four arguments, it's really hundreds of arguments broken down into four categories. And the categories have to do with a variety of effects that are not normally discussed. Most criticisms of television have to do with the television program content. People say if there is less violence on television or less sexism on television, or less this or less that, television would be better. If there were more programs about this or more programs about that, then we'd have "good television".
My own feeling is that that is true - that it's very important to improve the program content - but that television has effects, very important effects, aside from the content, and they may be more important. They organize society in a certain way. They give power to a very small number of people to speak into the brains of everyone else in the system night after night after night with images that make people turn out in a certain kind of way. It affects the psychology of people who watch. It increases the passivity of people who watch. It changes family relationships. It changes understandings of nature. It flattens perception so that information, which you need a fair amount of complexity to understand it as you would get from reading, this information is flattened down to a very reduced form on television. And the medium has inherent qualities which cause it to be that way.
And the book is really about television considered from a holistic point of view, from a biological point of view - perceptual, environmental, political, social, experiential, as well as the concrete problems of whether a program is silly or not. But other people deal with that very well. My job was to talk about television from many of these other dimensions which are not usually discussed.
- Media psychology
- History of television
- Social aspects of television
- Television studies
- Luddites as an example of a social movement which opposed specific applications of technology on political and social class grounds.
- Mander, Jerry (1978) [First copyright 1977]. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. New York, New York: HarperCollins. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-688-08274-1.
- W. David Kubiak. "Nancho Consults Jerry Mander". Retrieved 2010-11-09. "They give power to a very small number of people to speak into the brains of everyone else in the system night after night after night with images that make people turn out in a certain kind of way. It affects the psychology of people who watch. It increases the passivity of people who watch."
- A review by Ron Kaufman
- Arguments for the Elimination of Television - part one on YouTube - a 9-minute video of Jerry Mander talking about television
- A summary, by George Karras, of the book
- A review by Michael Rollins, December 28, 1998