This provocative new exploration of our media-saturated lives is a worthy successor to Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. Everyone knows that the media is all around us, but no one quite understands its effect on our lives. Critics and analysts focus on this show or that celebrity, but they miss the true import of our total immersion in a fast-moving sea of sounds and images. As he did with television in Inside Prime Time and with the culture wars in The Twilight of Common Dreams, Todd Gitlin once again recasts the world we think we know. In Media Unlimited, a remarkable and original look at our media-saturated, speed-addicted world, he makes us stare, as if for the first time, at the biggest picture of all. Ranging from video games to elevator music, action movies to reality shows, punditry to Internet exhibitionists, Gitlin evokes a world of relentless sensation and nonstop stimulus. Far from signaling a “new information age” or a rescue from passivity, the media torrent, as he shows, fosters disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens to make democracy a sideshow. A charged polemic, Media Unlimited reveals the glut of manufactured images and sounds as one of the defining features of our civilization, and as a perverse culmination of Western hopes for freedom.
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