Assignment 2: McLuhan Critical Perspective

Rosy, your essay is very well done. Articulate, flowing. You touch on major tenets of the McLuhan doctrine.

I think the essay would have been even stronger if you had dived right into the subject:

McLuhan questions society’s assumptions, expands the bounds of debate, and aims for the betterment of society.





I think you can dispense with a lot of the stuff in blue below. Just go right for the heart of the issue.

You’re a good writer. This is just advice for future essays.


Rosy Ayala



Professor Pearson

Team 5

Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher, professor, and public intellectual that left behind the foundation of Media Theory. With his astounding insight, we use our knowledge of today’s technological advancements to decipher what he meant when he coined the term “the medium is the message” in the ‘70s. What’s made McLuhan’s teachings so memorable, and continuously relevant in today’s society, is his approach to mediums with respect to critical perspective in delivering his message. McLuhan invited questions towards his assumptions, expanded the bounds of debate, and aimed for the betterment of society.

After reading the 1969 interview by Playboy magazine, and listening to his 1977 ABC Radio lecture, McLuhan’s message remains the same: the form of a medium embeds itself in any message—influencing how a message is perceived. McLuhan does this by answering questions and understanding his demographics. His ability to connect to the audience is a demonstration of critical perspective—comparing and contrasting different attitudes and interpretations towards a subject. For example, in his ABC Radio interview below, McLuhan gives his perspective on radios, televisions, and the effect it has on literacy. McLuhan does not shy away from the audience, but instead questions and invites reporters to give their opinion, and to contribute to the conversation. Unfortunately, there weren’t any in the audience, yet this was an example of inviting inquiry towards his assumptions that “radio people are far more literate than T.V. people.”

With statements described as “pithy,” “simple,” and “provocative to the point of being outrageous,” by the ABC Radio host, McLuhan had no trouble expanding the bounds of debate. In the interview, a woman questioned that “if the medium is the message, and it doesn’t matter what we say on T.V., why are we all here tonight?” McLuhan reassures her otherwise, that what he meant was that “the message is quite independent of the program.” In other words, it is the usage of the product/technology (in this case T.V.) that determines the value, not the other way around         McLuhan has always promoted the betterment of society. He describes media as the “folk art of the 21st century,” and stresses media as “extensions of [the] physical.” Particularly in McLuhan’s Playboy interview, when his interviewer asks him why he is “attempting to dispel [media] and alert man to the changes in his environment,” McLuhan makes a valid observation. McLuhan emphasizes that society has a “rearview” perspective on life, and “if we understand the revolutionary transformations caused by new media, we can anticipate and control them; but if we continue in our self-induced subliminal [narcissistic] trance, [we risk becoming their] slaves.”

All in all, McLuhan’s foreshadowing has come to pass. Regardless of what critics had to say about him, McLuhan’s thinking utilized critical perspective to his advantage, and was never arrogant when questioned. His insight for media was far beyond his era, which is why he’s still such an important figure studied in media today, allowing us to question assumptions, expand debate, and recognize media’s effect.




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