Tuned in to a Real Threat | Sojourners

Tuned in to a Real Threat

Television as a propaganda tool

Throughout the greater part of this century, the political and military leadership of Western nations seemed convinced that expansionary-minded totalitarian governments posed the most serious threat to American and European democracy. Favored freedoms—the right to vote, to dissent, to pursue one's economic self-interest, and to choose one's lifestyle—were believed to be in constant jeopardy from the regimes of such leaders as Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao.

The members of that feared foursome are now all dead. The Soviet Union is no longer one entity. And China, despite the remonstrations of its twentysomething intelligentsia, is currently being wooed by President Bush and the NATO (or New World) cabal. To be sure, the reunification of Germany and open dialogue with the former Soviets and China hardly presage an era of utopian relaxation. Yet the lifting of animosities attending international relations provides ample opportunity to eye an even more formidable threat to freedom on the domestic front. The enemy is now within; and it is television.

In his book Television and the Crisis of Democracy, philosopher Douglas Kellner examines the historical and present-day relationship between democracy and the television industry, delivering a five-chapter study divided into two separate but equally important parts. Part one of the book delivers a well-constructed post-Frankfurt School theoretical analysis that explores the destructive and regressive (and even totalitarian) role television plays in contemporary society. The second part offers its readers a succinct blueprint of the medium's potentials and "alternative" uses.

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Sojourners Magazine June 1992
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