Within your breakout room, describe your interpretation of the quote from Douglas’s essay. Assign someone in your room to discuss the interpretation when we rejoin the full class session.
Page numbers are from Laurie Ouellette, ed. The Media Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2013).
“If television news, in particular, bears special responsibility for squandering its ability to enhance a global awareness despite its ever-augmented capabilities to do so, reality TV, colonizing television as it did between 2001 and 2005, insisted that the most productive way to use communications technologies was to focus them on individual Americans in confined and controlled spaces hermetically sealed from foreign peoples and cultures” (94).
“News routines interacting with increasingly orchestrated and rigid government news management and the battle for ratings powerfully governed the scopic range of what communications technologies could show people, and thus, in fact, blunted what these technologies could permit people to see and feel” (98).
“In the hands of reality TV producers and network executives, cheap, portable, interactive communications technology in the service of this genre privileges self-absorption, self-scrutiny, the intricacies of interpersonal interactions and an obsession with the private and personal at the expense of any broader public issues” (101).
“The preferred discourse of the whole genre is one that celebrates a determined isolationism, a luxuriant self-absorption. It was the discourse of reality TV in particular that legitimated, after the initial aftermath of 9/11, a preference for the microscopic rather than the telescopic properties of communications technologies” (102).
“In this era in which the word globalization is used so constantly, and profligately, and is linked to an automatic assumption that communications technologies undergird the shrinking of the world, we need to address the scopic capabilities of these devices, and analyze which political and economic structures encourage their microscopic versus their telescopic capabilities” (102).
“Communications technologies do have some inherent capabilities that privilege some senses - and thus some cognitive and behavioral processes - over others. As we in American studies consider the ways technology and society affect each other in the digital age, we need to examine how these inherent capabilities are enhanced or thwarted by the institutional structures that regulate, profit from, or are even surprised and destabilized by scopic technologies” (102-103).