Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bullshit or Not: Marshall McLuhan Edition

Today would be Marschall McLuhan's 97th birthday, a perfect time to go to "bullshit or not."

There's an old sketch film called Amazon Women on the Moon and one of the bits is a parody of the old Leonard Nimoy show, "In Search Of..." called, "Bullshit or Not?" with the tagline "Bullshit or not? You decide." It's a line I like so much that I've stolen it for an irregular series of posts.

From Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man:

"Ideally, advertising aims at the goal of a programmed harmony among all human impulses and aspirations and endeavors. Using handicraft methods, it stretches out toward the ultimate electronic goal of a collective consciousness. When all production and all consumption are brought into a preestablished harmony with all desire and all effort, then advertising will have liquidated itself by its own success"
McLuhan was writing before television had hundreds of niche channels, thousands of slimly tailored blogs could connected on-line communities across the world, and cookies on your computer could allow pinpoint marketing.

Have the new media shaped the advertisers' messages? Is McLuhan's insight here still meaningful or was it tied to his context?

As usual, feel free to leave anything from a single word response to a dissertation. So, bullshit or not? You decide.