Alexa Lorraine DePablo Assignment 2 Critical Perspective Team 10

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Critical theory refers to the conception concept of new approaches aiming to question and denounce ideas that oppress humanity. In Marshall McLuhan’s 1969 Playboy Interview, he proposes that “the medium is the message”. By questioning previously held ideas, creating room for debate and wanting to better society he cements his theory as being a critical theory. strong thesis

One of the determining factors in identifying whether an idea can be categorized as critical theory is if it questions previously held assumptions.  Marshall McLuhan sets himself up as an individual bent on disrupting common thinking within the first few lines of the interview when he states “I want to map new terrain rather than chart old landmarks.” A self-proclaimed investigator, McLuhan begins to elaborate on his theory of the medium being the message and the sentiment that the medium is more altering than the content it contains.

By simply introducing his theory of the medium is the message, McLuhan is creating room for debate. Introducing any new idea into the world is cause enough for talk, but introducing a concept that disturbs peoples blissful ignorance is an invitation for  profound discussion. The interviewer poses a question early on regarding what McLuhan’s critics have to say about his methods, presenting us with evidence that he has already started a debate. McLuhan goes on to counter multiple points the interviewer shares as the article proceeds, producing thoughtful discourse.

Finally, McLuhan’s purpose for sharing his theory is simple: to better society. His goal is education and describes a state of self-hypnosis called ‘Narcissus narcois’, a syndrome in which man is unaware of the effects that new technology is creating, much like a fish who is unaware it is surrounded by water. Snapping man out of this state would alert him of his surroundings and that’s precisely what McLuhan wants. He knows that ignorance towards mindlessly consuming and participating in electronic media makes man susceptible to pain and identity loss therefore conscious awareness of it is what will save mankind. His theory aims to save man from the oppressive and anxiety-inducing hold that electronic media can cause.

McLuhan’s theory disrupts society’s routine act of being engulfed by media without even realizing it, but does so through educating and hoping we do better.