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.

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

1 Comment to Want to understand America today?

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