Critique of Postman

Neil Postman was a scholar who studied mass media and the rise of technology. In his article The Peek-A-Boo World, he argues that our world is diminishing because of technology. He believes that people are taking advantage of technology and how it is used. He believes that it is used for meaningless things such as having a boring conversation over the phone or having the television on while cooking dinner. He puts emphasis on these things to create his main argument which is technology is bad. I disagree with him because technology has done so many good things for our world. It helps us communicate faster, makes hard tasks easier, and gives us more opportunities in every field. I believe that his opinion is ignorant to the reason that technology exists.

He starts his article off discussing the invention of the telegraph. The telegraph was invented so people could communicate messages without being face-to-face. This was supposed to be helpful but Postman saw this invention as an attack on the discourse saying that it introduces “irrelevance, impotence, and incoherence”. I disagree because it allowed people to communicate with the people around them in a faster, more efficient way. A lot of the conversations that were held on the telegraph were conversations to loved ones that are away or to a co-worker about an important thing happening at work. This efficiency allowed people to receive important information in a more timely fashion.

Postman continues his article by going into the negative impact of photographs have done for our society. He believes that photographs lack syntax, offers no opinion, and it is preemptively a word of fact. I disagree because photography is an art which is to be interpreted. A picture says a thousand words and I cannot agree more. Postman is missing the point because a photograph can literally mean anything. The picture itself is a medium but what us behind that medium are many different messages. He also attempts to claim that painting used imagery to better communicate their purpose and the photograph assaulted that premise. I feel like the photograph is an updated version of the painting. Yes, the moment is captured quicker but they still have the same purpose. Both are still art forms that communicate a certain message that can be interpreted by others as much as they like.

He introduces the title concept of a peek-a-boo world at the end of his article. He defines a peek-a-boo world as a self-contained world without coherence that does not make sense that contains a lot of entertainment which is similar to a child’s game of peek-a-boo. He applies this concept with the effects of television and computers. First, he argues that television is a new type of command center. What he means is that we learn what phone system to use, what products to buy, who movies to see, what television programs to watch from the television set. I will agree that he is on the ball here but a viewer does not have to participate in what the television is trying to sell. They have a freedom of choice. They could be influenced or not care about what is being shown. It is up to the viewer to interpret the message being seen. The televisions’ purpose is to use visuals and video to expose us to things that we did not know before.

The final piece of technology that he discussed was the computer. He talked about how the computer has become so dominant that it is mandatory for children and adults to be computer literate in the workforce. This is the world we live in today. Computers are so beneficial to our society and they have done revolutionary work in every field. He also believes that both the computer and television control our knowledge about the ways of knowing our knowledge of the world. That is not entirely true. Yes, both the computer and the television play a dominant role in the way we learn but they are not the only way we learn about our world. We can learn new things by reading a book, going outside, enrolling in a class, and many more. To dismiss the accomplishments of both the television and computer is just silly to me because they are not the mind-controlling things that Postman claims them to be. Both have made huge accomplishments in the technological filed.

Due to these technological advances, we are now more efficient than ever in everything that we do. Postman should be appreciative of how technology has advance but instead he is whining about how it used to be. I do not know if he noticed but things change and if he does not like it, he does not have to comply with it but his critiques are so off-point. He does not understand how technology changed the world for the better. He does not get how technology presents us with opportunities that were not there before. He wants the past to stay in the past and unfortunately that cannot happen. His article was completely off base to the reality that we live in today. Because of these advances, we are in a faster, more efficient society than ever. If Postman does not see this as a positive thing, he is living under a rock.

Me Before You: A Movie Review

Disabilities are a complex thing to understand. Some disabilities affect a person mentally other disabilities affect a person physically. Despite disabled people being present in our society, they are often not present in mainstream media. That was the case until a movie came out that portrayed a disabled man as the love interest. Even though it attempts to be good disability representation, it is far from it. The movie Me Before You is a love story between a disabled man, Will Traynor, and his caretaker, Louisa Clark, as they take on his last few months to live. Although this sounds like good representation, it is not because multiple disability advocacy groups have criticized the movie for enforcing the belief that life with a disability is not a life worth living. This further enforces how the concept of a person having a disability has been misrepresented or nonexistent in the media for decades.

The movie starts out with Will being bitter over his condition. His bitterness is so deep that he calls Dignitas to perform an assisted suicide. This bitterness is softened when he meets and falls in love with Louisa. Things seem to be turning around for him but he ultimately chooses death due to the fact that he could not bear to live with his disability any longer. His decision to die reinforces the concept of having a disability as a burden to society. It also capitalizes on the selfish theme society gives disabled people. Will’s decision to die left Louisa so mad that she did not speak to him for the rest of the vacation. Society basically gives people with disabilities this dangerous rhetoric that they are, at their best selfish, and at their worst inferior. Will’s decision to end his life was based on his feelings towards his disability. Not everyone might agree with his decision but they should not condemn him for making this tough decision. Mainstream media silences any controversial opinion made by a disabled person then proceeds to condemn them for thinking outside the box. That their existence should be focused on fitting into the society’s stereotype of what they should be or they should give up on themselves.

Another thing that I wanted to point out was that the actor who played Will was not a disabled actor. Furthermore, he was white, fit, and good looking. This is the standard lead male role we see in every major motion picture which is extremely problematic in this movie. The media uses their power to make sure that the fit, white male stereotype is used in major motion pictures even if the character they are portraying is not a fit, white male. This hasty casting decision was made because film and television don’t hire disabled people as actors, writers, or behind-the scenes people which hinders accurate disability representation on screen. It makes it harder for the disability to be portrayed accurately because their reference point is always a neurotypical’s interpretation of the disability. The media uses this power to dilute our perception of people with disabilities with hot, white men just to get viewers not realizing that consequences of their actions.

One major stereotype that disabled people have to face is the needy stereotype. People with disabilities are often viewed as lesser then therefore people always assume that they need help. This often comes with disgust, aggravation, and annoyance which was the emotions that Louisa would often express when taking care of Will. Tensions become high when Louisa overhears Will’s mom talking about Will’s suicide attempt. She takes out this anger while taking care of Will prompting Will to feel even worse then he did before. It made it seem like Will was a burden to her even though he could not help that he was in that condition. This theme brings the idea of power which caregivers often have power over the disabled despite caring for them. This is often met with the rhetoric that society’s stigma of people with disabilities incites not only sympathy and pity for the caregivers, but also horror at the neediness imposed on them. The media plays a powerful role in this rhetoric by portraying disabled people as the problem when it’s the stigma against disabilities portrayed by the media that’s the problem.

Overall, the movie Me Before You was a huge misrepresentation of people with disabilities. To have a hunky white male actor portray a disabled man only fuels the fire of the inaccurate representation of people with disabilities. The themes of neediness and selfness come to play to denounce and dehumanize Will. The worst part about this movie is that Will makes the decision to die because his disability is too much of a burden for him. It shows that it is socially acceptable to view death as better option rather than living with a disability. There are plenty of disabled people who make the best out of their circumstances despite the backlash they receive. The stigma is what is pushing disabled youth to become depressed, bitter, and suicidal. This movie could have done so much more for the disability community but instead it succumbed to society’s narrative of what a disabled person’s place in society should be.