High Concept, Thought Style and Media Determinism

I hope you’ve all been enjoying Spring Break.

The timing of our break, following a snow-cancellation, means that we will return to class next week still trying to complete our (now, seemingly-distant) engagement with McLuhan, while also making sense of the culture industry readings (scheduled for, but unengaged, last week) and the readings on audience (slated for next week).

So, gang, in a word: we face some challenges (!)

To help us better work through and with the material, I would encourage thinking together on a few disparate (though consonant) threads.

The first is the optional article assigned for last week on “The High Concept Presidency”. Let’s ask: “how, if at all, this notion of ‘high concept’ might apply not only to politics, but to other areas of social communication today?”

And what of the future? To the degree that the notion of ‘high concept’ has crept into the present, what might the uses and effects of it be–now and moving forward, into the future?

And, looking at a question that will come to take on greater meaning when we discuss genre, narrative devices and rhetorical approaches in cultural productions, to what degree can we link the presence and use of ‘high concept’ to media form, itself? In short, is the way of thinking and explaining part and parcel of the medium it appears in, itself (or is it merely an artifact–a coincidental/accidental element)? . . . obviously examples would be beneficial in addressing this query.

Next, I was intrigued by this article on “president as publisher”. My interest was less in Donald Trump and the specifics of his live-tweeting the Comey hearing before the House Intelligence Committee than with the simple McLuhansque take on medium as message. Applied to this situation, what message does Twitter (the medium) send? What “effects” does the platform exert on society? And, is this medium merely a blip on the historical radar, or does it possess the ability (like, say, the telephone or television) to remain with us, thereby altering human practices and patterns in profound ways? In answering this question, think about the media determinism angle. What is determined, how and why?

Finally, on this matter of determinism (and in a final why-the-hell-not leap toward the kitchen sink), you might consider this article, which (taken to its extreme) might enable us to argue something in the grander scheme of things. Is it possible that this article might lead toward theorization about media form (and also content)–at least particular sorts of media. What sorts? The kind that are computationally-based (which, increasingly, comprises a growing number of media and media content). In turn, these forms (and their contents) are predicated on (hence, determined and regulated by) a particular system of thought: logical and probabilistic.

Letting the string play out, one might ask: “are all (such) media beneficiaries, but also potential victims, of a fixed way of thinking/approaching/perceiving/operating in the world?” And so, too, is our media theorization also at risk of being overly determined by reference to, fixation with, a particular thought style?

3 thoughts on “High Concept, Thought Style and Media Determinism

  1. I think that Twitter is supposed to send the message that Trump keeps up with the times and is social media savvy. I think that it fails to do so, because Trump doesn’t use Twitter wisely and continuously tweets without realizing the mass effect that one short tweet can have on a country. I don’t think Twitter possess the ability to change communication like the telephone or television because it is only one form of social media. I think that the group of social medium as a whole do change the scope because they change the way that people interact. I think of dating. First, there was talking in person, then telegrams, then telephone calls, then cell calls, and now it’s direct messages and fb friends that show a person that you like him or her. As for media determinism, I think that Twitter (an all other forms of social media too) is special because it automatically determines that your message will be shown to all of your followers. That’s extraordinary and something that was never really known to man before the age of social media.

    As for the Aristotle article, I’m sorry but I’m not sure what you’re asking.

    I think that we all can be media beneficiaries as well as potential victims because different media send different messages and within the different media there is different content. While sometimes, people can benefit from the large variety of messages out there because one is likely to resonate better, I think that it’s also likely, like in the TV audience article, that there is also an audience that is preferred by the producer of the media so that others are left out. Although I don’t think that it’s possible to make a one message fits all scenario, I do think that media producers should focus on diversifying th media scope and targeting different groups equally—instead of one primary group with a little effort into others.

    As for our media theorization, I think that it is at risk of being over determined to a thought style because all media messages are influenced by one’s surroundings. For example, media theory, as we see in this class, is primarily studied by sociologists and anthropologists that tend to lean further to the left of the political scope. I think that sometimes, the theories have missing pieces because they don’t look at media from both sides of the political scope and are almost always trying to see how the media exploit people. A person who leans further to the right would talk about how the media benefits those who are better educated and more liberal minded over those who have a more conservative lifestyle and are less likely to use it. Also, a person that falls further to the right would bring in sides of capitalism and media in a more positive light—which could be useful to understand. I think that sometimes universities and other liberal higher learning institutions are like a bubble from the real world where only one side of the story is told.

  2. I believe Twitter (as a medium) sends the message that communication can occur between different socio-economic groups. Instagram allows you to communicate with images, but Twitter is communication through personal ideas and concepts. What is unique about Twitter is that it thrives as a platform where one can express themselves precisely and unprofessionally. A blue-collar worker in Michigan is able to read the President’s true feelings about different subjects. It connects people like never before. However, because it is a social media platform, it isn’t noted the caliber of television or radio so it won’t stick with us. Similar to how Myspace was the most popular social media platform until it was overtaken by Facebook.

  3. I think that the message Twitter sends, as a medium, is similar to what Seb was saying. Thee barriers that were in place to distinguish groups are now being dismantled and allowing people of various demographics and socio-economic groups to converge on these platforms. With these convergences there are often times lots of hate thrown towards people who come from different areas and different experiences, but Twitter still allows for lanes of communication to be open that weren’t necessarily there before.

    I believe something like Twitter will be able to remain with us only if people still find resourceful information through it. For instance, Donald Trump tweets more than Obama ever did it seems and that is definitely helping Twitters popularity among citizens. And also the fact that he is putting out his own personal opinion is interesting too because people may not hear what he says on twitter in a press conference. It has the effect that people feel like they are talking to the president rather than watching the news.

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