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.

What did McLuhan mean by that?

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

“Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.”

Me (August, 2010, age 58).  Who’s looking at who?

In Understanding Media McLuhan says this old saying illustrates the fundamental principle “that distinguishes hot and cold media.”  That principle being that cold or cool media demand participation because they are low definition (providing little data) while hot media demand relatively little participation because they are high definition (providing much data).

If you’re wondering how this proverb illustrates this hold on to your hat.  McLuhan says, “Glasses intensify the outward-going vision, and fill in the feminine image exceedingly, Marion the Librarian notwithstanding.  Dark glasses, on the other hand, create the inscrutable and inaccessible image that invites a great deal of participation and completion.”  In other words, girls who wear dark glasses get the passes, not because they’re hot but because they’re cool.  And perhaps, also, boys who wear glasses don’t make passes, because they’re getting way too much information.  Seriously, somebody should study this.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, pp. 49.

Tags: ,

Michael Hinton Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Uncategorized, Vol. 1 No Comments

Leave a Reply