In parts of The Medium is the Massage Mcluhan uses cartoons and parody to illustrate how the common audience internalizes media messages and uses media to teach children.

In The Medium is the Massage, this cartoon parodies the Dick and Jane book series. Someone we presume to be the mother of a young boy reads a book, “See Dick. See Dick protest. Protest Dick! Protest!” This both pokes fun at the white-bread America books we tell our children and demonstrates the nature of protests in the 1970s. By turning the Dick and Jane stories into stories about protest that parents would teach their kids, we question if we teach our children to be passive or to be critical of society.

I came across this The New Yorker cartoon from October 14, 2016 that has a similar message. A mother of a young girl reads, “So the moral is, slow and steady and not being a misogynistic, fearmongering monster wins the race.” This commentary on the current presidential election is used to parody bedtime children stories by not teaching children actual morals, but a bare minimum of decency.

How does media play a role in raising children? Does Mcluhan pose that media teaches children to be complacent? How would he like children to be raised into critical, socially-active citizens? How could media play a part in his vision?


4 responses »

  1. ariatung says:

    I think media plays a huge role in raising children. Before all of this new media, people would only learn things from either reading it or really from other people, whether it be family and/or friends. But now, people can hear something on the radio, or watch a video, or see an ad, etc. and learn anything. Media is such an open outlet and so easily accessible for audiences. For example, topics relating to sex or drugs, or other topics parents are unsure of teaching to their children, media is such an easy platform to learn this kind of thing. There have been so many media outlets, such as television, that when you are young, you don’t realize what message they are giving, but then when you grow up, you realize what they were talking about. Parents obviously still play a huge role in raising and teaching their children, but media has definitely taken over a lot of different aspects. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing though. Maybe both?

  2. ddmaoz says:

    I believe that mass media views all its consumers as passive viewers (active only when it comes to purchasing what is advertised), and children are no different. McLuhan’s statement that character is no longer “shaped by only two earnest, fumbling experts” (14) points to the power of pervasive media to influence children (for the better and for the worst). However, I think the questions you bring up relate to some of the most recent readings we read following McLuhan. Many of the readings talk about the importance of the *process* of creating media, and I believe this applies to children as well. I believe the *creation* of media as part of school\after school programs’ curriculum is such a powerful tool in making youth critical of media content, and enabling them to see themselves as active participants in the creation of knowledge.

  3. oliviaklugman says:

    I think children are the most affected by media because they lack critical thinking skills to distinguish what is being propagated by the mass media. I specifically remember thinking that TV was an accurate representation of real life, and being subject to advertisements for things that are low quality; for example, I always wanted my mom to buy me lunchables because the advertising made them look fun, though I now realize that lunchables are barely even real food.

  4. emacune says:

    I think that media plays a very significant role in the way that children act in society. As very small children who are quite passive, because they simply do not know better, children’s norms are developed through what they are surrounded by, especially mainstream media that prevails the most. These norms of conforming to capitalism and white supremacy become norms that have to be unlearned. The mainstream media has a very detrimental effect on our society.

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