Four Arguments for The Elimination of Television

In this introductory passage and first chapter of his book "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television," former adman Jerry Mander discusses how he became disillusioned with advertising, and how modern civilization not only disconnects people from nature but often from the information provided by their own senses.

| September/October 1978

If Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television has any basis in "authority," it lies in the fifteen years I worked as a public relations and advertising executive. During that time, I learned that it is possible to speak through media directly into people's heads and then, like some otherworldly magician, leave images inside that can cause people to do what they might otherwise never have thought to do.

At first I was amused by this power, then dazzled by it and fascinated with the minutiae of how it worked. Later, I tried to use mass media for what seemed worthwhile purposes, only to find it resistant and limited. I came to the conclusion that like other modern technologies which now surround our lives, advertising, television, and most mass media predetermine their own ultimate use and effect. In the end, I became horrified by them, as I observed the aberrations which they inevitably create in the world.

Adman Manque

In retrospect, I can see that an absurd little revolt against my family led me into advertising work. My parents wanted me to choose a profession or to take over my father's business. They felt that while advertising was already a lucrative field by the time I was seeking a way into it in the late 1950s, it was still very chancy for Jewish boys. They were certainly right about that. Directly out of the Wharton School of Business and then Columbia Graduate Business School, I was denied a job in a Park Avenue ad agency because "your hair is a little kinky: you might want to try Seventh Avenue." Seventh Avenue was what I was fleeing.

My parents carried the immigrants' fears. Security was their primary value: all else was secondary. Both of them had escaped pogroms in Eastern Europe. My father's career had followed the path familiar to so many New York immigrants. Lower East Side. Scant schooling. Street hustling. Hard work at anything to keep life together. Early marriage. Struggling out of poverty.

Curiously, success came to him during the Depression. He founded what later became Harry Mander and Company, a small service business to the garment industry, manufacturing pipings, waist bands, pocketing, and collar canvas.

One of the reasons for my father's success during hard times was World War II. He was beyond draft age and so was free to do a successful trade in servicing the manufacture of military uniforms. After the war, the business grew in new directions as the economy spurted forward into an era of rapid growth. Nonetheless, I decided his business wasn't for me.

8/23/2007 11:54:33 AM

amazing! although i was already familiar with Huxley and Orwell, this article gave me more direct insight in the artificiality of our society cant wait to read the whole book!

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