The Medium is the Message…meh

 

The reading that we had this week by Marshall McLuhan  was very interesting and I think the word “eccentric” is a perfect word for McLuhan and his thoughts. Even after spending almost an entire semester worth of class on “the medium is the message”, it is still something that I find hard to fully understand. What I understand by “the medium is the message”, and what I think McLuhan is getting at is that it is the medium, that a message is sent through, is the most important part of communication and should be the main focus instead of the message, or content, that is being sent through the medium. McLuhan uses a wide variety of examples in order to explain what he means by “the medium is the message.”

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consensus of any medium- that is, of any extension of ourselves- result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology” [1] Here McLuhan is putting so much power into the medium. Media are important, but I don’t think they are more important than the actual medium. It is true that we can get information from the medium itself. Letters, are a private thing with messages that one does not one to be let into the public. Newspapers mean that something is information for the public to read. Books are for entertainment of information depending on what type they are, same with TV shows and movies. But I also think that the same info can be shared in different Medias.

In class we discussed the transition of radio and television. We focused on how radio shows were converted into television shows. Lucille Ball and Jack Benny were translated to TV shows. The Lone Ranger is an example, where McLuhan’s argument might not be strong. I class we listen to he first episode of the Loan Ranger radio show and then the first episode of the television show version of the same exact episode. The dialogue of the show was the exact same in both mediums, the only difference were added visuals to the television show. In my opinion, the same exact message came across both mediums, so the medium did not necessary matter.

McLuhan sees the medium as being the most important piece in communication. I don’t agree with this, the medium is an important part, but not the only thing that matters.

[1] Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (London: Routledge, 1975), Ch. 1.

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3 thoughts on “The Medium is the Message…meh

  1. It took me awhile to get through this reading, too, and I agree eccentric is the perfect word for McLuhan’s writing and style. I feel like the medium is not always THE most important factor in how people perceive media and content. I used a similar example in my post than what you used with the Lone ranger, but to make an opposite point. I do think the medium impacts the message-maybe not as much as McLuhan believes it to be, but it does impact how consumers get information and thus somewhat changes the information. With your example, I do think the medium changes the content in that watching something on T.V and listening to it on the radio can greatly effect how we perceive it- for example, when JFK and Nixon debated and people who watched felt JFK clearly won while those who listened on a radio felt Nixon clearly won.

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  2. McLuhan is still one of the most confusing people I have ever read/listened to. I think you were right when you said McLuhan believed the medium was the most important part of the message but I do not agree with him. There are many instances where the medium has little to do with what the content of the message is. (Theoretically) Reading the news in the newspaper and watching the new on TV should give you practically the same news just as things on the radio and things on TV should be practically the same. I,however do see where there are cases where the medium has a major impact on the content. As Clare mentioned above, the JFK and Nixon debates are a perfect example. Depending on how you heard the debate, your thoughts on who won changes. There was also a difference when it came to listening to FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech. Hearing him say those words is very moving and powerful but when watching him give the speech he is not conducting himself in the same manner. Granted he did have polio so I don’t blame him for leaning and he also didn’t know he was being filmed for people to see, but still, hearing the speech and seeing it give off two totally different vibes.
    Bottom line is: McLuhan, confusing yet makes sense but only on certain occasions, The medium can be the message but it doesn’t have to be.

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    • haha! i really enjoyed your bottom line. He does have a point with putting emphasis on the medium because it is important, but it isn’t the MOST important. Just like the JFK and Nixon debate that you mentioned that Clare mentioned. The medium had a major effect there, but there was still the message that held importance.

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