While I agree with the basic tenets of Postman's claims, I do believe television is a much more sophisticated modality than he seems to purport. Indeed, television is popular in my home for its ability to entertain, provide information, and for the ease and convenience with which it can be consumed. Favorite shows at our house include "Good Luck Charlie," "Twilight Zone," "Orange is the New Black," and "Saturday Night Live." Though the majority of TV viewing is spent on news.
Postman goes on to say that "technology becomes a medium as it employs a particular symbolic code, as it finds its place in a particular social setting, as it insinuates itself into economic and political contexts." Now I feel that Postman's ideology is getting somewhere. While there is indeed a demand made of television to provide entertainment, I believe television is an industry that generates so much more.
Local and community television captures local culture and offers opportunities for communities to display various skill sets. At Southern Utah LIVE Television Network based in St. George, Utah, I served as executive producer and program developer for a handful of locally produced shows. Leading the pack in terms of viewership, audience size and budget was a little gem of a show, "Southern Utah Chef."
Each episode is designed to be – yes – entertaining. Also, episodes showcase skills of southern Utah's highest rated chefs from restaurants including Painted Pony, George's Corner, Benja Thai & Sushi, Red Rock Grill, and premier dining locations in Springdale, Utah. The shows host, Ms. K, is a dynamic and fun local personality, and she is entertaining. She banters throughout the episodes with chefs as they cook. The show is taped before a live studio audience and episodes are live streamed and made available on the local community television streaming site. The show captures community culture and offers a cook-at-home demonstration and recipe for viewers interested in trying the chef's favorites.
Additionally, audience members were invited to sample the chef's works after the taping of the show. Each episode required a great deal of community collaboration, script writing, directing and editing. Again, while it was designed to be entertaining, the show was also educational and informative. Just as much of television is.
|Southern Utah Chef audience members enjoy sampling|
recipes prepared by Benja following the taping of an
episode of Southern Utah Chef.
I use this example to illustrate a point. From a small community cooking show to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" or "Modern Family," television is a communication industry that operates at many levels. As a whole, it has the ability to educate, encapsulate culture, drive economy, and to unite.
When Postman claims, "American television, in other words, is devoted entirely to supplying its audience with entertainment," I have to disagree. Such a position minimalizes a complex modality.
Do you agree with Postman that television is devoted entirely to supplying entertainment?
And if so, do you agree that such an attribution minimalizes television as a medium? Why or why not?