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The Great God Unclothed: or The Five Myths of Television Power

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The Five Myths of Television Power is a provocative and controversial book. It challenges the conventional assumption, repeated every day, that television dominates American life - if not the life of the entire world. Douglas Davis takes on this belief with arguments that will change the way we all view television. Is TV-as-we-know-it dying? Douglas Davis contends that television's perceived power is just that - only perception, not fact, grossly exaggerated, and damaging to our national life. In The Five Myths ...
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1993 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Brand New. Gift Quality. Pristine. Never Read. No Marks. Originally twenty dollars. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. Audience: ... General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The Five Myths of Television Power is a provocative and controversial book. It challenges the conventional assumption, repeated every day, that television dominates American life - if not the life of the entire world. Douglas Davis takes on this belief with arguments that will change the way we all view television. Is TV-as-we-know-it dying? Douglas Davis contends that television's perceived power is just that - only perception, not fact, grossly exaggerated, and damaging to our national life. In The Five Myths of Television Power, Davis shatters the following myths: TV controls our voting. TV destroys our students. TV is (our) reality. TV pacifies us and keeps us at home. We love TV. Davis analyzes many of television's most famous "events," from the home tapes that recorded the beating of Rodney King and, later, the Los Angeles riots, to the Gulf War, to the Clarence Thomas hearings, to Murphy Brown's illegitimate child and the surprising 1992 elections. Throughout he proves that the medium is hardly omnipotent, crushing all resistance in the viewers who turn it on. Rather, it is "a fat-bellied emperor unclothed, ready to succumb to leaner, looser, more invigorating competition." He warns that "traditional" television, if it remains complacent and unwilling to change, will self-destruct before a host of media and print challengers. The Five Myths of Television Power will stir debate within the TV networks, the new cable TV empires, and among editors, publishers, students of media and the arts, and liberated TV viewers everywhere. Americans are tired of being told that they cannot think for themselves - the hidden message of Marshall McLuhan's books. The Five Myths of Television Power refutes McLuhan. It recasts the relationship of the viewer to television in an entirely new direction - one that empowers the viewer, and one that television executives should heed.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``I love this thing that I also hate,'' declares freelance writer Davis at the beginning of his provocative, sometimes overwrought attack on received wisdom about television in America. He sets out to debunk five popular notions: that TV determines elections; that it makes students lazy; that it is our main news source; that it encourages passivity; and that we love it. His contention that TV plays a smaller role than we believe in voting is propped up with case studies and scholarly findings, but other discussions are less convincing. Turning to TV's effect on students, Davis generalizes from his own child's interaction with a single educational program--and fails to address TV's impact on reading. The author's interviews as well as national polls and other studies support his conclusion that, ``rather than a god, TV has become something like a little brother or sister.'' Full of allusions--literary, philosophical and sociological--Davis is clearly spoiling for a fight; perhaps he hopes to debate the issue on a TV talk show. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Davis, a sometime contributor to the New York Times and Vanity Fair , sets out to fell the following ``myths'' about television: TV controls our voting; TV destroys our students; TV is our main source of news; TV pacifies and encourages us to stay at home; and TV is loved by most. Through an analysis of the television coverage of several recent events, such as the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, the Gulf War, and the beating of Rodney King, as well as an account of the role television played in the last presidential election, Davis deftly skewers the critics responsible for this questionable quintet of beliefs. Especially interesting is his account of the drop in ratings that occurred when Nielsen, Arbitron, and other viewer estimation services went from diaries to the more accurate ``people meter'' system. This is a worthy addition to media and popular culture collections.-- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Denise Perry Donavin
"The American intellectual's certainty that television is not a legitimate subject of analysis either as an art or as a science remains a wonder to me to this day," according to Davis. He takes issue with the conventional notions about TV's perfidious influences, such as its effect on elections, education, physical well-being (by creating generations of couch potatoes), and people's concept of reality. Davis found very few respondents who liked television, and he claims, also, that individuals are well aware of the dubious quality of what they are watching. He says that network television actually crashed in 1990, when Nielsen ratings showed that the "HUT [Houses Using Television] dropped like a rock." Davis reports that these ratings were found unacceptable by the networks and distorted to maintain advertising revenues. A thought-provoking change from the plethora of "Let's cure ourselves of TV addiction" guides.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671739638
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Pages: 256

Table of Contents

Prologue: That is, The End 13
Thesis: The Medium As Myth 17
Myth One: TV Controls Our Voting 39
Myth Two: TV Has Destroyed Our Students 93
Myth Three: TV Is (Our) Reality 114
Myth Four: TV Pacifies Us (We Are Couch Potatoes) 152
Myth Five: We Love TV 187
Epilogue: A Beginning 218
Contrarian Stats: An Addendum 221
Notes 231
Bibliography 237
Index 245
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