An Interview With Jerry Mander
When Jerry Mander suggested in his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, published in 1978, that television was not reformable no matter who controlled the medium, it represented the first time anyone had dared suggest that we do away with television altogether. Mander argued that television is a primary tool in the ongoing mediation of human experience, the visual intoxicant that entrances the viewer into a hypnotic state and thereby replaces other forms of knowledge with the imagery of its programmers. It infuses young children with high-tech, high-speed expectations of life, so that a walk in nature would likely seem interminably boring. It is the tool used not only to sell the resources that have been dug up, melted, forged, and otherwise appropriated from the earth, but to sell us back our feelings, which the entrancement has eclipsed. Television colonizes its viewers by way of an artificial reality replete with its own values. From a political point of view, it is particularly dangerous because “it is the one speaking to the many,” as Mander describes anyone from the corporate sponsor to the nightly anchorperson. And it is bad for our bodies as well, creating mental and physical sickness by the mesmerizing phosphorescent glow of its artificial light.