How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives
By Todd Gitlin
(Metropolitan Books, Hardcover, 9780805048988, 288pp.)
Publication Date: March 2002
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A provocative new exploration of our media-saturated lives-a worthy successor to Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media.
Everyone knows that the media is all around us, but no one quite understands its effect on our lives. Critics and analysts focus on this show or that celebrity, but they miss the true import of our total immersion in a fast-moving sea of sounds and images. As he did with television in Inside Prime Time and with the culture wars in The Twilight of Common Dreams, Todd Gitlin once again recasts the world we think we know. In Media Unlimited, a remarkable and original look at our media-saturated, speed-addicted world, he makes us stare, as if for the first time, at the biggest picture of all.
Ranging from video games to elevator music, action movies to reality shows, punditry to Internet exhibitionists, Gitlin evokes a world of relentless sensation and nonstop stimulus. Far from signaling a "new information age" or a rescue from passivity, the media torrent, as he shows, fosters disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens to make democracy a sideshow.
A charged polemic, Media Unlimited reveals the glut of manufactured images and sounds as one of the defining features of our civilization, and as a perverse culmination of Western hopes for freedom.
Todd Gitlin is a professor of culture, journalism, and sociology at New York University and the author of eight previous notable books, including Inside Prime Time, The Whole World is Watching, The Sixties, and The Twilight of Common Dreams. His commentaries on media and politics appear frequently in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Dissent, and Salon, as well as on National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.
Praise for Todd Gitlin:
"Candid, courageous, and eloquent....Strong stuff, badly in need of saying."-Tamar Jacoby, The New York Times Book Review on The Twilight of Common Dreams
"Admirable....Tells more of the truth about its complex, quintessentially American subject than any book I know."-Susan Sontag on The Sixties
"Perhaps the best book ever written about the thinking of the insulated men and women in the executive suites of Century City, Burbank, and Television City."-Los Angeles Times on Inside Prime Time