A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan continues. If he had lived Marshall would have been 100 on July 21, 2011. Join me in the countdown to his centennial, and an exploration of more of his observations on the way media work in the electric age in which we live.

Archive for January, 2011

Who is doing the teaching?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  The ad men.

“The thoughtful observer will find some cause for dismay in the disproportion between the educational budget of the advertising industry and that for the education of the young in school and college.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  And what are they teaching?

This for instance.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Permalink Business, Communication, Education No Comments

The problem with teachers.

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  Americans don’t respect them.

The fundamental problem with American education is that teachers are looked down upon in the community because they have turned down the opportunity to earn the high incomes their education would have allowed them to in the private sector.  The assumption is that teachers are weak or anti-American or incompetent.

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  So what?

What hope is there for the education of our children if parents view teachers as failures?  Here is one teacher’s view of the problem today.


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 126.

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Michael Hinton Friday, January 14th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Education No Comments

Why do men like Westerns?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  It’s their security blanket.

The world is changing so fast men are unsure of exactly what their role is.  “For millions of such men horse opera presents a reassuringly simple and nondomestic world in which there are no economic problems.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  The medium as medicine or poison?

In the Western violence is a natural, peaceful, and healthy way to release tension.  Here we see clearly what a man’s role is, what he’s got to do, and that when he does it the world is a better place for it.  This weekend in Arizona we saw what can happen when an unstable man in the real world takes this kind of role playing for role modeling.  The medium must take part of the blame.


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, January 13th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Want to understand America today?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  You need to understand its two grand traditions, the frontier and the home town.

The home town is about society, feeling, home and women.  The frontier is about business, action, office and men.  And believe me, the two will never meet until they have achieved their greatest opposition!

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Do we still?

In the 1940s McLuhan thought America had divided along the lines of its two great traditions and the best place to see those traditions in action was on Soap Operas (the home town) and Horse Operas or Westerns (the Frontier).

In the 1960s he seemed to be saying that under electric conditions the two were finally meeting.  Business and society, feeling and action, home and office, and women and men were now increasingly switching positions, fusing rather than splitting.

Today where are we?  On TV the soap opera has given way to the talk show and the western to fantasy and science fiction.  Have the two traditions merged or simply reappeared in these genres?

The new home town?


The new frontier?

Albeit with some changes.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

Had your dose of nostalgia yet?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40). The faster we go the more we look back.

Societies like ours are profoundly nostalgic.  Things change so rapidly “a twenty-five-year-old can get wistful about reminiscences of ten years ago.  In such a world the lasting qualities of horse opera with the fringe on top have great appeal.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Not surprisingly, the western is back.

After a period of neglect in the popular imagination the western appears to be back.  True Grit is doing extremely well at the box office.  A change Marshall would not have been surprised to see, nor the continuing popularity of the remake.

  • The remake’s trailer
  • The original’s trailer

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture No Comments

Newspapers don’t make news.

Marshall McLuhan (1965, age 53).  You do.

“The only connecting factor in any newspaper is the dateline… . When you enter through the dateline, when you enter your newspaper, you begin to put together the news – you are producer.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  If so, it doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin couldn’t name a paper she’d read:

Their names are irrelevant.  If you don’t like the sense Sarah Palin makes of the stories that flash past her eyes don’t blame it on the newspapers she reads or doesn’t read.  It’s not what she reads but what she does with what she reads.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, “Address at Vision 65,” in Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Technology No Comments