A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

The Twist is out

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  Isn’t it obvious?

If you want to know how media work you must look at how the world works.  Consider this fact which I ran across in the special “Russia” issue of Life magazine (September 13, 1963).  Apparently the Russians have declared the Twist “taboo” in restaurants and nightclubs.  The explanation for this state of affairs is obvious.  The twist is cool which is inconsistent with the hotness of Russia’s economic development programs that are driving its industrialization.

Me (August, 2010, age 58).  Really?

This explanation for the cool reception of the Twist in cold-war Russia is so wonderfully quirky that it boggles the mind.  And yet it is a remarkably apt analogy if you find analogies persuasive.  The Russian economic development program was focused on the growth of heavy machinery.  The very idea of an economic plan and heavy machinery is hot (low participation, high definition).  The Twist is the epitome of cool (high participation, low definition).  See for yourself….

Of course there are other reasons …

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, pp. 44.

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Michael Hinton Friday, August 27th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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