Transcript: Marshall McLuhan's ABC | Dec 03, 2002

(Classical music plays)

In animation, the screen fills up with the letters of the alphabet, which fly by horizontally.

Names appear: Corinne McLuhan, Mike McManus, Eric McLuhan, Tom Wolfe, Marshall McLuhan.

A title reads “Marshall McLuhan’s ABC. The phonetic alphabet.”

Then, Mike McManus sits in his television studio, at a small round table, with Marshall McLuhan.
Mike is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He’s wearing a light gray three-piece suit, white shirt, and black tie.
Marshall is in his sixties, with receding gray hair and a trimmed moustache. He’s wearing a gray suit, shite shirt, and brown tie.

A caption reads “McManus. 1977.”
Then, it changes to “Marshall McLuhan.”

Mike says BETWEEN TODAY'S CHILD WHO'S
BEEN RAISED ELECTRONICALLY, AND
WHO MUST LIVE IN A LITERATE
WORLD, AS WE ARE STILL IN A
LITERATE WORLD, THERE'S A
2,400-YEAR GAP BETWEEN THAT BOY
OR GIRL AND HIS PARENTS --

Marshall says AND HIS PARENTS WHO GREW UP
IN A LITERATE SOCIETY.
WELL, THE ALPHABET, THE PHONETIC
ALPHABET, THE BEGINNINGS OF
WESTERN LITERACY, CAME IN ABOUT
500 B.C., AND BETWEEN THEN AND
NOW IS APPROXIMATELY 24, 2,500
YEARS AND WE ARE THE FIRST
POST-LITERATE GENERATION, AS IT
WERE.
THAT IS WE HAVE BYPASSED THE
LITERATE WORLD OF HARDWARE AND
THE LINEAL LEFT HEMISPHERE
TECHNOLOGY.
WE HAVE BYPASSED IT BY MOVING
ONCE MORE AGAIN INTO THE
ALTOGETHER WORLD, THE HOLISTIC
WORLD OF THE RIGHT HEMISPHERE
PEOPLE WHO ARE THE THIRD WORLD
PEOPLE.
SO, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR
CHILDREN IS WE'RE WATCHING THEM
BECOME THIRD WORLD.

Mike says WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Marshall says WELL, IT MEANS THAT THEY FEEL
MUCH MORE GROUPY AND TRENDY THEN
THEY DO PRIVATE OR
GOAL-ORIENTED.

Mike says I SEE.

Marshall says AND SO THE DISC JOCKEYS
HELPED US ALONG IN A HUGE WAY
AND THERE'S ALL THE NOSTALGIA --
BY THE WAY ONE OF THE BIG MARKS
OF THE LOSS OF IDENTITY IS
NOSTALGIA.
SO, THE VIABLES ON ALL HANDS IN
EVERY PHASE OF LIFE TODAY,
REVIVALS OF CLOTHING, OF DANCES
OF MUSIC OF SHOWS OF EVERYTHING,
WE LIVE BY THE REVIVAL.
IT TELLS US WHO WE ARE OR WERE.

Now a man in his late forties appears in an interview, in a home living room.

A caption reads “Eric McLuhan.”

Eric has short brown hair, a trimmed white beard, and wears a striped shirt.

He says AT THE TIME THAT MY FATHER
MADE THESE REMARKS, WE WERE
WORKING ON THE LAWS OF MEDIA.
REVIVAL IS ONE OF THEM.
EVERY INNOVATION BRINGS BACK
INTO PLAY SOME OLD FORM IN A NEW
WAY, NOT JUST BY RECASTING OLD
FORMS AS ART FORMS, BUT ALSO BY
GIVING THEM A NEW, SORT OF,
SALIENCE.
SO, THE MOTOR CAR, LET'S SAY,
BRINGS BACK THE KNIGHT IN
SHINING ARMOR, THE CAR ITSELF,
THE TIN SUIT IS NOW NOT JUST
SOMETHING YOU WEAR AS CLOTHING
BUT YOU PUT THE HORSE INSIDE IT
ALONG WITH YOU AND YOU HAVE THE
KNIGHT OF THE ROAD.
YOU HAVE THE OLD THING IN A NEW
FORM.
EVERY INNOVATION DOES THIS.
MOVIES COME BACK IN A NEW WAY AS
ART FORMS.
TELEVISION IS A NOW GETTING
RETRIEVED AS AN ART FORM, A
REVIVAL.
THE MINUTE IT STOPS BEING
CASTIGATED IN THE MEDIA AND
BEING REGARDED AS ESTHETIC
EXPERIENCE YOU KNOW THE REVIVAL
IS UNDERWAY AND SOMETHING BIG IN
THE ENVIRONMENT HAS CHANGED.

Back in Mike’s studio with Marshall, Mike says WE'VE REACHED THE POINT NOW
WHERE EVERYBODY 24 YEARS AND
UNDER IS THE T.V. GENERATION.

Marshall says YES.

Mike says DO YOU FEEL THESE YOUNG
PEOPLE OUT THERE UNDER 24 HAVE
BEEN TOTALLY TRIBALIZED?

Marshall says THAT HAVE LOST THEIR SENSE OF
DIRECTION.
THEY DO NOT HAVE GOALS.
THEY DON'T HAVE OBJECTIVES, AND
THAT IS PUTTING IT MILDLY.

Mike says YOU THINK THAT'S NEW?

Marshall says I THINK THAT IS TYPICAL OF
THE 24 YEARS AND UNDER, AND,
YES, I THINK THAT'S NEW.

Now Eric appears and says
THE T.V. GENERATION IS NOW
ENTERING ITS OLD AGE.
THE T.V. GENERATION WAS IN ITS
TWENTIES IN 1975, '77 WHEN MY
FATHER SPOKE WITH MR. MCMANUS
AND THESE PEOPLE NOW HAVE
CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN THAT ARE
ARE 25, AND 27.
THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT SET OF
PRIORITIES AND A DIFFERENT
AGENDA.
WITH THIS HINDSIGHT, WE CAN SEE
THE EFFECTS AND THE NATURE OF
TELEVISION RATHER CLEARLY,
ESPECIALLY NOW THAT T.V. IS THE
CONTENT OF ANOTHER MEDIUM.
SO, WE'RE TAKING T.V. AS AN
ESTHETIC EXPERIENCE AND INSTEAD
OF DECRYING IT ALL THE TIME.
T.V. IS NOW AN ART FORM, A
PROGRAMMABLE ART FORM THAT'S
ALSO NOW THE CONTENT OF THE
COMPUTER AND THE INTERNET.
YOU GO ON THE INTERNET AND YOU
CAN WATCH T.V.
WE HAVE SOMETHING VERY UNUSUAL
HAPPENING.
AT THE SAME TIME WE PUT THE
INTERNET ON THE T.V.
WE HAVE TWO ENORMOUSLY POWERFUL
MEDIA, T.V. AND INTERNET, WHICH
ARE TAKING EACH AS CONTENT.
THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN OUR
EXPERIENCE, THAT I KNOW OF, EVER
BEFORE.
IT'S PRESENTING US WITH A
COMPLETELY NEW SITUATION AND ONE
THAT HAS NO PRECEDENCE AND WE
HAVE TO MAKE IT UP AS WE GO
ALONG.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS?
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE EFFECTS
ARE.
WE'RE LIVING THEM.

(Classical music plays)
A black slate reads “Becoming addicted.”

Back in his studio, Mike says
THE VIOLENCE OF THE MEDIA,
YOU SAY, ITSELF INVADING THOSE
NOT PREPARED FOR IT.
IT'S NOT THE CONTENT THAT'S
PRIMARY.
IT'S THIS INVASION OF PRIVACY
THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR
THAT IS DESTRUCTIVE.

Marshall says THEY RECENTLY HAD THIS TRIAL
OF THE YOUNG MAN WHO APPEALED TO
“KOJAK.”
THAT'S HIS ALIBI FOR MURDER.
THIS IS A PATHETIC THING BECAUSE
NOBODY EVER MISTOOK FICTIONAL
ENTERTAINMENT, VIOLENCE FOR
REALITY.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE.
ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE LEADING
MERELY A DRUGGED AND FANTASY
LIFE COULD DO THAT.
THERE IS THE STRANGE FACTOR THAT
TELEVISION IS QUITE A POTENT
DRUG.
IT IS ADDICTIVE.
IT IS AN INNNER TRIP AND IT IS A
TRANQUILIZER.
RECENTLY THE DETROIT FREE PRESS
OFFERED 500 dollars FOR NOBODY WHO
WOULD STOP WATCHING TELEVISION
FOR A FEW DAYS AND THEY DIDN'T
GET MANY TAKERS.

Eric says THE IDEA OF TRYING TO DENY
OURSELVES ONE OR ANOTHER MEDIUM
FOR A PERIOD OF TIME RAISES THE
MATTER OF THE ADDICTIVENESS OF
MEDIA.
ALL OF OUR MEDIA ARE ENORMOUSLY
ADDICTIVE, I MEAN INCREDIBLY
ADDICTIVE.
IMAGINE TRYING TO DO WITHOUT THE
TELEPHONE, OR IMAGINE, FOR
EXAMPLE, IF WE GOT RID OF THE
COMPUTER TONIGHT, ALL OF THEM.
THE WHOLE CULTURE, OUR BUSINESS,
OUR FINANCE, EVERYTHING WOULD
CRASH.
WE ARE ADDICTED AS A CULTURE TO
THESE MEDIA.
THE LITTLE EXPERIMENTS THAT HAVE
BEEN PERFORMED FROM TIME TO TIME
INVITING PEOPLE OR GROUPS TO DO
WITHOUT MEDIA FOR AWHILE JUST
POINT TO THIS LARGER FACTOR THAT
IT IS THE ENTIRE SOCIETY THAT IS
ADDICTED AND PROFOUNDLY
ADDICTED.

(Classical music plays)
A black slate reads “Corrine McLuhan.”

Corinne sits on a couch in a living room. She’s in her late sixties, with short blond hair. She’s wearing a vibrant red blouse and several strands of small pearls around her neck.

She says THERE IS A GREAT RESURGENCE
OF INTEREST IN MARSHALL'S WORK
AND NOBODY HAS BEEN MORE
SURPRISED BY IT THAN I.
I WONDER IF IT HAS ANYTHING TO
DO WITH, FIRST, A NEW
GENERATION, THE PREVIOUS
GENERATION BEING SCARCELY AWARE
OF MARSHALL'S NAME WHICH WAS
VERY HARD TO EXPLAIN.
THERE'S A NEW GENERATION NOW AND
THEY'RE LOOKING FOR
EXPLANATIONS.

A caption reads “Mrs. Corinne McLuhan.”

Corinne continues IT'S ALMOST LIKE HAVING COME
FULL CIRCLE, ISN'T IT?
MARSHALL CONSIDERED HIMSELF
PRIMARILY AS A TEACHER.
HE WAS HAPPIEST WHEN HE WAS
TEACHING AND THE LECTURES --
WELL, THERE WAS A WAY OF
DEVELOPING HIS IDEAS, OF
SPREADING THEM, BUT HE'D LIKED
TO GET STUDENTS.
HE'D HAVE MANY, MANY EVENINGS
HERE JUST SURROUNDED BY
STUDENTS, AND THEY WOULD TOSS
THE BALL BACK AND FORTH.
HE'D GET NEW INSIGHT THAT WAY.
ALSO YOU COULD SEE THE YOUNG
PEOPLES MINDS EXPANDING WHEN
THEY'D GRAB A NEW IDEA AND
EXPAND ON IT.
THAT GAVE MARSHALL, I THINK, THE
MOST SATISFACTION OF ANYTHING
ELSE HE WAS DOING.

(Classical music plays)
A black slate reads “Dis embodied intelligence.”

Marshall says BY THE WAY AT THIS MOMENT WE
ARE ON THE AIR.
ON THE AIR WE DO NOT HAVE ANY
PHYSICAL BODY.
WHEN YOU'RE ON THE TELEPHONE OR
ON RADIO OR ON T.V., YOU DON'T
HAVE THE PHYSICAL BODY.
YOU'RE JUST AN IMAGINE ON THE
AIR.
WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE THE PHYSICAL
BODY, YOU'RE A DISCARNATE BEING.
YOU HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT
RELATION TO THE WORLD AROUND
YOU.
THIS, I THINK, HAS BEEN ONE OF
THE BIG EFFECTS OF THE ELECTRIC
AGE.
IT HAS DEPRIVED PEOPLE, REALLY,
OF THEIR PRIVATE IDENTITY.
EVERYBODY TENDS TO MERGE HIS
IDENTITY WITH OTHER PEOPLE AT
THE SPEED OF LIGHT.
IT'S CALLED BEING “MASS MAN.”
IT BEGAN QUITE A LONG TIME AGO.

Eric says THE DISCARNATE QUESTION WAS A
MAJOR INSIGHT INTO THE EFFECTS
OF ELECTRICITY AND OF ELECTRIC
MEDIA.
WE HAVE SO MUCH MORE OF IT
AROUND US NOW IT GETS VERY HARD
TO SEE, HARD TO TALK ABOUT.
MY FATHER WAS POINTING OUT
SIMPLY THAT ELECTRICALLY YOU ARE
SIMULTANEOUSLY PRESENT BOTH HERE
AND THERE.
ON THE AIR, ON THE RADIO, ON
TELEVISION, AS NOW, OR ON THE
TELEPHONE, YOU'RE HERE BUT
YOU'RE ALSO THERE IN EVERY REAL
SENSE EXCEPT ONE.
YOUR BODY IS STUCK IN ONE PLACE,
BUT THAT DOESN'T STOP YOU FROM
OPERATING.
YOUR DISCARNATE OR DISEMBODIED
INTELLIGENCE IS PERFECTLY
SENTIENT, PERFECTLY ABLE TO WORK
AT THAT END AS WELL AS HERE.
IT MAKES THE BODY OBSOLETE.
THE BODY IS NO LONGER LAYING
DOWN THE GROUND RULES FOR HOW
YOU BEHAVE AND HOW YOU EXIST IN
THIS GLOBAL VILLAGE OR GLOBAL
THEATER.
AT THAT POINT, THE BODY ASSUMES
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SIGNIFICANCE
AND WHEN THAT HAPPENED TO US IN
THE FIFTIES, SIXTIES, SEVENTIES,
WE WENT THROUGH A REVOLUTION OF
ATTITUDES TO THE BODY.
IT BECAME AN ART FORM.
WE DISCOVERED REPLACEABLE PARTS
AND SO ON.
WE STARTED TO PROGRAM OUR BODIES
WITH DRUGS AS NEVER BEFORE
BECAUSE WE HAD THIS NEW IMAGINE,
THIS NEW SENSE OF THE BODY AS
PROGRAMMABLE, AS AN ESTHETIC
OBJECT.

(music plays)
A black slate with a plus sign and a minus sign reads “The Electric World.”

Mike says AND ALL THIS IS SOMEHOW IN
EFFECT OF THE ELECTRONIC AGE?

Marshall says OH, NO, THE PEOPLE IN ALL
TIMES HAVE BEEN THIS WAY, BUT IN
OUR TIME WHEN THINGS HAPPEN VERY
QUICKLY, THERE'S VERY TIME TO
ADJUST TO NEW SITUATIONS AT THE
SPEED OF LIGHT.
THERE'S VERY LITTLE TIME TO GET
ACCUSTOMED TO ANYTHING.

Eric says WHEN MY FATHER TALKS ABOUT
EVENTS OCCURRING AT THE SPEED OF
LIGHT, HE'S USING A METAPHOR FOR
ELECTRIC MEDIA.
WITH MECHANICAL MEDIA, THINGS
OCCURRED AT A MUCH SLOWER PACE
OBVIOUSLY.
I MEAN IT TOOK DAYS TO DO
SOMETHING THAT NOW TAKES SECONDS
OR MINUTES.
ON THE TELEPHONE, ON THE RADIO,
YOU ARE PRESENT INSTANTLY AT THE
OTHER END AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT,
AT THE SPEED OF ELECTRICITY.
WHEN THINGS OCCUR THAT QUICKLY,
WHEN THINGS FROM AROUND THE
WORLD HIT YOU THAT QUICKLY IN
THIS GLOBAL THEATER, YOU DON'T
HAVE TIME TO THINK OR TO BACK
OFF AND BE OBJECTIVE OR
DETACHED.
YOU'RE IMMEDIATELY PLUNGED INTO
THE MEDIA RACE AND IT BECOMES
NOT A MATTER OF COGNITION AND
THINKING OR REACTING MENTALLY
BUT PERCEPTION.
YOU REACT INSTANTLY AND YOU'RE
CHANGED INSTANTLY BY EVERYTHING
THAT IMPINGES ON YOU.
ALEC LATENT SAID TO THE
BLIND, ”ALL THINGS ARE SUDDEN.”
AND IN THE ELECTRIC WORLD
EVERYTHING IS SUDDEN.
THERE'S NOTHING GRADUAL, NO
BUILD UP, NO LETDOWN.
IT'S JUST “BOOM,” RIGHT BETWEEN
THE EYES.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Marshall McLuhan said, ‘I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN VERY CAREFUL NOT TO PREDICT ANYTHING THAT HAD NOT ALREADY HAPPENED.’
And later in the interview with Tom Wolfe he said,
‘The future is not what it used to be.’”

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Future.”

Corinne says HAVE YOU EVER READ ANY OF
MARSHALL'S ATHYRITHMS?
SOME OF THEM ARE, BANG, RIGHT ON
THE BUTTON.

She reads quotes from a book and says
“THE ANSWERS IS ALWAYS INSIDE
THE PROBLEM NOT OUTSIDE.”
“INVENTION IS THE MOTHER OF
NECESSITIES.”
“ONLY PUNY SECRETS NEED
PROTECTION.
BIG DISCOVERIES ARE PROTECTED BY
PUBLIC INCREDULITY.”
“ALL ADVERTISING ADVERTISES
ADVERTISING.”
“WHEN YOU ARE THE PHONE OR ON
THE AIR,” YOU HAVE NO BODY.”
“TODAY THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS
IS THE CONSTANT INVENTION OF NEW
BUSINESS.”
NOW THIS I THINK IS QUITE
APROPOS OF OUR TIMES NOW.
“VIOLENCE IS THE EFFORT TO
MAINTAIN OR RESTORE A WEAKENED
PSYCHE.”
HE COULD SEE RIGHT INTO THE
HEART OF A MATTER.
NO PROBLEM, NEXT.
(LAUGHING)
OH, HE WAS AN AMAZING CRITTER.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Cognition.” The word then transforms into “Recognition Pattern.”

Eric says PATTERN RECOGNITION IS A KEY
TO A LOT OF MY FATHER'S WORK.
HE GOT THE IDEA IN STUDYING
MEDIA.
THERE'S NO SEQUENCE, NO LOGICAL
APPROACH THAT WORKS.
YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE ENTIRE
FIELD, THE WAY CHANGES ARE
PLAYED OUT OR OCCUR IN ALL SORTS
OF AREAS AT ONCE.
THAT IS CALLED “PATTERN
RECOGNITION.”
“IBM” HAD A PHRASE THAT HE USED
TO USE A LOT WHEN HE WAS TALKING
ABOUT TELEVISION AND PEOPLE
COMPLAINED ABOUT INFORMATION
OVERLOAD.
HE SAID, “THE ANSWER TO
INFORMATION OVERLOAD IS THAT
DON'T TRY TO LEARN THE THINGS.
YOU LOOK AT PATTERNS AND THE
INFORMATION.”
NOWADAYS WE CALL THAT KNOWLEDGE
MANAGEMENT.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Canada, my home sweet home.”

Back in the original interview, Mike says
ON BEING A CANADIAN, I THINK
NORTHERN PRIDE SAYS THAT ONE OF
THE THINGS CANADA GIVES YOU IS
THE CHANCE TO BE AN OBSERVER.

Marshall says YES, BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT TOO
DEEPLY INVOLVED IN OTHER
PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS, AND OUR OWN
PROBLEMS ARE RELATIVELY SMALL
COMPARED TO OTHER PEOPLE'S
PROBLEMS.

Mike says IT GIVES YOU A CERTAIN
FREEDOM THEN?

Marshall says YES, IT DOES SO YOU CAN BE AN
ANN LANDERS TO THE WORLD.

Eric says ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS MY
FATHER LIKED CANADA AS A PLACE
TO LIVE AND WORK WAS THAT IT WAS
A BACKWARD COUNTRY AND HE FOUND
THAT A VERY VALUABLE POSITION.
THE DISADVANTAGE OF LIVING IN A
FORWARD AREA LIKE THE U.S. WAS
THAT YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY THE
THINGS THAT YOU WANTED TO STUDY
AND THEY TEND TO BE INVISIBLE.
WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT IT OVER
THE FENCE AS IT WERE FROM NEXT
DOOR, THEY BECOME VERY VISIBLE,
VERY EASY TO SEE.
HE FOUND THAT POSITION NOT ONLY
REMARKABLE BUT MOST USEFUL.
WE WOULDN'T HAVE WANTED TO LIVE
ANYWHERE ELSE OR WORK ANYWHERE
ELSE.

Corinne says HE CHOSE TO STAY IN CANADA
BECAUSE HE WAS A CANADIAN.
OH, HE WAS MUCH MORE APPRECIATED
IN THE STATES IN THOSE DAYS THAN
HE WAS IN CANADA.
CANADA TENDED TO, AND MAYBE
STILL DOES, UNDERVALUE ITS OWN
SONS, WHEREAS MARSHALL WAS
BEGINNING TO BE WIDELY ACCEPTED
IN EUROPE AND CERTAINLY IN THE
STATES, BUT HE WANTED TO COME
BACK DESPITE ALL MY PULLING.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Identity.”

Marshall says ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE ARE
QUESTS FOR IDENTITY.
WHEN YOU LIVE OUT ON THE
FRONTIER, YOU HAVE NO IDENTITY.
YOU'RE A NOBODY, THEREFORE, YOU
GET VERY TOUGH.
YOU HAVE TO PROVE THAT YOU ARE A
SOMEBODY, AND SO YOU BECOME VERY
VIOLENT.
SO, IDENTITY IS ALWAYS
ACCOMPANIED BY VIOLENCE.
ORDINARY PEOPLE FIND THE NEED
FOR VIOLENCE AS THEY LOSE THEIR
IDENTITIES.
SO, IT'S ONLY THE THREAT TO
PEOPLE'S IDENTITY THAT MAKES
THEM VIOLENT.
TERRORISTS, HIJACKERS, THESE ARE
PEOPLE MINUS IDENTITY.
THEY ARE DETERMINED TO MAKE IT
SOMEHOW, TO GET COVERAGE, TO GET
NOTICED.

Eric says WE HAVE SOME RECENT EXPERIENCE
WITH TERRORISTS.
THE TERRORIST DOESN'T WANT TO
BECOME SOMETHING.
HE DOESN'T HAVE A GOAL.
HE'S NOT TRYING TO ESTABLISH
ANYTHING.
WE WANTS TO DISESTABLISH.
HE WANTS TO, ABOVE EVERYTHING
ELSE, WORK WITH BEING, NOT
BECOMING.
HE'S TRYING TO BE SOMETHING AND
HE DOESN'T LIKE WHAT WE BE.

(music plays)
A black slate with a colourful joker face reads “The Joker is wild.”

Mike says NEW TECHNOLOGY, YOU SAY, IS A
REVOLUTIONIZING AGENT.

Marshall says YES, SIR.
IT CREATES NEW SITUATIONS TO
WHICH PEOPLE HAVE VERY LITTLE
TIME TO ADJUST.
THEY BECOME ALIENATED FROM
THEMSELVES VERY QUICKLY, AND
THEN THEY SEEK ALL SORTS OF
BIZARRE OUTLETS TO ESTABLISH
SOME SORT OF IDENTITY BY
PUT-ONS.
SHOW BUSINESS HAS BECOME ONE WAY
OF ESTABLISHING IDENTITY BY JUST
PUT-ON, AND WITHOUT THE PUT-ON
YOU'RE A NOBODY.
SO PEOPLE ARE LEARNING OF SHOW
BUSINESS AS AN ORDINARY DAILY
WAY OF SURVIVAL.
IT'S CALLED “ROLE PLAYING.”

Eric says THE NEW TECHNOLOGY MEANS A NEW
WAY OF SEEING, FEELING,
THINKING, PERCEIVING.
IF YOU LOOK AT YOUR WORLD AND
THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU
DIFFERENTLY IN EFFECT YOU ARE
DIFFERENT, JUST AS DIFFERENT AS
THEY ARE.
SO, A NEW KIND OF IDENTITY IS
ESTABLISHED AND THAT -- WELL,
THE NEW IDENTITIES ARE ALL
GROUPS.
GROUP IDENTITIES MEAN ROLE
PLAYING.
UNLESS YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE, YOU
DON'T HAVE A ROLE.
UNLESS YOU'RE PARTICIPATING IN A
GROUP, YOU DON'T HAVE A ROLE.
YOU MAY HAVE A JOB OR A PRIVATE
IDENTITY BUT THE ROLES COME WITH
THE GROUP AND WITH THE AUDIENCE.
NOW, MY FATHER SAID SOMETHING
ABOUT ROLE PLAYING BEING
SURVIVAL, BUT HE WAS THINKING OR
ANTICIPATING IN HIS THINKING THE
IDEA OF THE GLOBAL THEATER,
WHICH IS WHERE EVERYBODY IS
ENROLLED ALL THE TIME AND UNLESS
YOU HAVE A ROLE YOU ARE NOBODY.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “He was a farce, not force.” Charles Dickens.

Now Marshall and another interviewer sit outdoors in a park on a sunny day.
A caption reads “Brave new worlds. 1972.”
Marshall wears a flowery yellow shirt.
The interviewer, Tom Wolfe, is in his forties, clean-shaven, with straight blond hair. He’s wearing a striped shirt and white tie.

Marshall says YOU KNOW THERE'S VERY LITTLE
PROSE THAT YOU CAN READ OUT
LOUD.
MOST PROSE HAS NEVER BEEN
WRITTEN BY FOR THE EAR AT ALL,
AND WHEN YOU HAVE TO SUDDENLY
READ IT IN PUBLIC, A QUOTE, YOU
SUDDENLY REALIZE YOU'RE READING
THE WORK OF A MAN WHO NEVER
HEARD WHAT HE WAS WRITING.

Tom says WELL, A LOT OF DIALOGUE IS
VERY CONVINCING IN NOVELS.
WHEN SOMEONE TRIES TO PUT IT ON
THE SCREEN, IT'S TERRIBLE, AND I
WOULD IMAGINE THAT DICKENS MIGHT
SUFFER THAT FATE.

Marshall says I'M NOT SURE.
THERE HAVE BEEN QUITE A NUMBER
OF MOVIES MADE OF HIS WORK.
I SUPPOSE THEY'VE BEEN ADAPTED,
NONE OF THEM JUST REPEATED.

Tom says I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THEY'VE
ACTUALLY USED THE DIALOGUE.

Marshall says THERE IS A REAL ORAL
TRADITION BEHIND DICKENS.
HE'S NOT A LITERARY MAN AND ONLY
BECAME RESPECTABLE AS A LITERARY
FIGURE IN THE THIRTIES, FORTIES.
IN FACT, I DON'T THINK UNTIL
TELEVISION DID THE ENGLISH
CRITICS ACCEPT DICKENS AS A
SERIOUS LITERARY FORCE.
HE WAS FARCE, NOT FORCE, UP
UNTIL T.V.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “The literate. Natural suckers for propaganda.”

Mike says DO YOU FEEL THAT THE FACT
THAT YOU AND I HAVE ENJOYED THE
REWARDS OF LITERACY THAT WE ARE
MORE PROTECTED AGAINST
TELEVISION THAN --

Marshall says YEAH, I THINK YOU GET A
CERTAIN IMMUNITY, JUST AS YOU
GET A CERTAIN IMMUNITY FROM
BOOZE BY LITERACY.
THE LITERATE MAN CAN CARRY HIS
LIQUOR.
THE TRIBAL MAN CANNOT.
THAT'S WHY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
OR IN THE NATIVE WORLD YOU
CANNOT -- BOOZE IS IMPOSSIBLE.
IT'S THE DEMON RUM.
HOWEVER, LITERACY ALSO MAKES US
VERY ACCESSIBLE TO IDEAS AND
PROPAGANDA.
THE LITERATE MAN IS THE NATURAL
SUCKER FOR PROPAGANDA.
YOU CANNOT PROPAGANDIZE A
NATIVE.
YOU CAN SELL HIM RUM AND
TRINKETS BUT YOU CANNOT SELL HIM
IDEAS.
THEREFORE, PROPAGANDA IS OUR
ACHILLES' HEEL.
IT'S OUR WEAK POINT.
WE WILL BUY ANYTHING IF IT'S GOT
A GOOD HARD SELL TIED TO IT, AND
SO PROPAGANDA IS THE GREAT BIG
SOFT SPOT IN THE MAKE-UP OF THE
LITERATE MAN.

Eric says MISSIONARIES FOUND MANY, MANY
YEARS AGO, A CENTURY OR TWO AGO,
THAT THEY COULDN'T CONVEY THE
MESSAGE OF BIBLE UNTIL THEY HAD
TAUGHT THE NATIVES TO READ AND
WRITE.
IT WASN'T THAT THEY NEEDED TO
READ THE BIBLE, BUT THE FACT IS
THAT LITERACY SPLIT
CONSCIOUSNESS FROM THAT OF THE
GROUP AND WITH LITERACY,
SPECIFICALLY THE ALPHABET, WITH
THAT POWER TO BREAK THE GROUP
BOND THAT WAS THE WEDGE THAT THE
PROPAGANDIST NEEDS.
UNTIL YOU CAN BREAK THE
INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS OFF,
THERE'S NO WAY IN.
THEY ARE IMPERVIOUS TO OUTSIDE
IDEAS.
THEY LIVE IN A WORLD OF
PROPAGANDA OF THEIR OWN, OF
THEIR MAKING AND THEIR OWN
BEING, AND UNTIL YOU CAN SPLIT
THEM APART WITH LITERACY THERE'S
NO WAY TO PROPAGANDIZE OR GET
ANY NEW IDEA HERE.
THE MOMENT THEY BECOME LITERATE,
THEY ARE SUCKERS FOR PROPAGANDA.
THEY'RE READY FOR IDEAS.
IT'S A PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE WITH
THE KIDS NOW WHO ARE BECOMING
IMMUNE FROM PROPAGANDA FROM THE
OLDER GENERATION, FROM THE
ELDERS IN THE WORLD.
THE REASON THEY'RE IMMUNE IS,
AGAIN, THEY'RE NOT VERY
LITERATE, BUT THEY'RE VERY
STRONG IN THEIR GROUP IDENTITY
AND GROUP SENSE.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “The multi-culture Mosaic.”

Mike says WHAT ABOUT THE MULTI-CULTURE MOSAIC?

Marshall says THAT IS AN AMAZING PLOY TO
PRESERVE THE CULTURAL IDENTITY
OF QUEBEC AND OTHER MINORITIES.

Mike says WHY DO YOU CALL IT A “PLOY”?

Marshall says WELL, IT'S, SORT OF, AN
OFFICIAL ENDING OF MELTING POT.
THE QUEBECOIS ARE TERRIFIED
BEING MERGED IN THE AMERICAN
CULTURE.
I THINK IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT,
AND I THINK THEY'RE RIGHT.
THEY'RE ABSOLUTELY VULNERABLE.
WE'RE ALL VULNERABLE TO THE
AMERICANS, AND THEY'RE A VERY
ATTRACTIVE AND WONDERFUL PEOPLE
AND I THINK WE COULD EASILY
BECOME MERGED IN THEIR LIVES, AS
WE ARE CONTENT TO BE ANYWAY.

Mike says WELL, DOES THAT MEAN THAT IN
ORDER TO LESSEN THEIR FEARS WE
ATTEMPT TO PARALYZE DIFFERENT
IMMIGRANT GROUPS COMING IN, THE
STATE OF THEIR ARRIVAL.

Marshall says AND KEEP THEIR CULTURES
INTACT AND SEPARATE.
THAT IS THE MEANING OF THE
MULTI-CULTURAL MOSAIC.
THE MOSAIC IS STATIC.
IT ISN'T IN A STATE OF CONSTANT
INTERANIMATION OR INTERPLAY.
NOW, IT'S STATIC AND THAT'S
EXACTLY THE WAY FRENCH WANT TO
REMAIN.
THEY WANT TO EXIST JUST THE WAY
THEY ARE.
SO, IT'S NOT THAT EASY.
IT'S AN AMAZING PLOY DEVELOPED
TO MAKE THIS POSSIBLE.
I DON'T KNOW IF IT WILL WORK,
BUT I CERTAINLY DON'T WISH THEM
ILL ON THIS MANOEUVRE.
IT IS A, KIND OF, MEDIA ECOLOGY,
YOU SEE.
IT'S A WAY OF USING OUR
AVAILABLE RESOURCES IN
COMMUNICATION TO KEEP PEOPLE
APART AND TO KEEP THEM INTACT
WITHOUT MERGING.
I THINK IT'S A DRASTIC MOVE.
I NEVER HEARD OF IT OCCURRING IN
ANY OTHER COUNTRY, DID YOU?
I NEVER HEARD OF THE
MULTI-CULTURAL MOSAIC AS AN IDEA
FOR IMMIGRATION.
IT'S AN AMAZING STRATEGY OF
SURVIVAL.
SURVIVAL, HOWEVER, IS A
LEGITIMATE GOAL IN LIFE,
ESPECIALLY IN A FAST-CHANGING
WORLD.

Eric says ONE EFFECT OF THE NEW
MOVEMENT ELECTRONICALLY AROUND
THE WORLD, ON THE INTERNET, IS
THAT IT MAKES EVERY NATION
MULTI-CULTURAL.
EVERY NATION IN THE WORLD IS NOW
FILLED WITH PEOPLE FROM
EVERYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD
ELECTRONICALLY.
EQUALLY, EVERY CULTURE BECOMES
MULTI-NATIONAL.
WE ARE ALL NOMADS.
WE ARE ALL WANDERING AROUND THE
UNIVERSE AND WE ARE ALL IN A
STATE OF DESPERATE NEED FOR
IDENTITY.

(music plays)
A black slate shows a newspaper clipping titled “Making the news.”

Back in the interview with Tom Wolfe, Marshall says
MOST NEWS IS LITERALLY FAKE
BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE MADE THEN
SELECTED.
THESE VERY, VERY TINY BITS THAT
ARE ACTUALLY WRITTEN UP AND
RECORDED AND PRESENTED TO THE
PUBLIC ARE FICTIONS IN EVERY
SENSE OF THE WORD, AREN'T THEY?
THAT IS, THEY'S FICTIONS IN THE
SENSE THAT THEY DO NOT
CORRESPOND TO ACTUALLY WHAT'S
GOING ON, BUT THEY ARE MADE
LITERALLY CREATED.
THE MEDIA THEMSELVES CAN NOW
CREATE EVENTS THAT ARE SO MUCH
BIGGER THAN PEOPLE, SO MUCH
BIGGER THAN THE AUDIENCE THAT IT
REALLY IS A NEW MYTHIC FORM.
THE COVERAGE OF THE VIETNAM WAR
IS DONE BY MORE PEOPLE WHO ARE
ACTUALLY FIGHTING IN VIETNAM.
THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE COVERING
THE VIETNAM BUSINESS AROUND THE
WORLD AND PARTICIPATING IN IT
THROUGH NEWSCASTS, THE NUMBERS
ARE MANY, MANY MILLIONS.
SO WAR THEN BECOMES A FICTION, A
COLOSSAL FICTION.

Eric says THE IDEA OF FAKERY IN THE
MEDIA IS A VERY APPEALING ONE.
THE WORD “FAKE” ACTUALLY AND THE
WORD “FACT” ARE THE SAME WORD.
THEY BOTH COME FROM LATIN
“FACTIO” MEANING TO MAKE.
BOTH FAKES AND FACTS ARE THINGS
MADE, AND THE NEWS -- WHAT IS IT
THE NEW YORK TIMES USED TO HAVE
ON THE MASTHEAD, “ALL THE NEWS
FIT TO PRINT”?
DARN RIGHT IT'S FIT.
IT'S FIT TO THAT MEDIUM OR
PRINT, ONLY NOW WE HAVE NEWS FIT
TO THE INTERNET AND NEWS FIT TO
TELEVISION AND NEWS FIT TO RADIO
AND SO ON.
THE MEDIA FIT THE BATTLE, BUT,
OF COURSE, ALL OF THE NEWS IS
FAKE IN THE SENSE THAT IT'S
MADE.
IT'S CONSTRUCTED.
YOU DON'T HAVE THE EVENT.
YOU HAVE A NEW SITUATION, A NEW
EVENT CALLED “NEWS.”
IT HAS ITS OWN PROPERTIES AND
ITS DYNAMICS.
THE CONTENT OF THE NEWS IS SOME
OTHER EVENT OR PLACE, BUT THE
NEWS ITSELF, OF COURSE, IS
ALWAYS FAKE.

Marshall says I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY REPORTERS
FROM THE NORTH OF IRELAND THAT
WHEN THE NEWS IS NOT ON AND THE
CAMERAS ARE READY TO GO, THE
PUBLIC IS ALL OUT IN THE STREETS
READY TO GO INTO ACTION AS SOON
AS THE CAMERAS ARE.

Tom says THAT'S MARVELOUS.

Marshall says THAT THEY ALL RETIRE INSIDE
TO WATCH THE NEWS AND THEN COME
OUTSIDE TO PARTICIPATE IN
COVERING THE NEWS AND IN ACTING
IT OUT THEMSELVES.
NOW I THINK THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN HIRED ACTORS AND THE
PUBLIC ITSELF IS TENDING TO
MERGE.

(music plays)
A black slate shows a drawing of an old-fashioned radio and reads “Return of the oral.”

(Radio static and MUMBLING noises)

A BROADCASTER says “AT THE SOUND OF THE TONE FOLLOWED BY THE LONG DASH, THE EXACT TIME WILL BE...”

Tom says I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO TOOK
OFF FROM POUND AND ELLIOTT AND
WHO WERE WRITING AFTER THE WAR
REALLY NEGLECTED THE ORAL SIDE
OF, SAY, SOMEONE LIKE ELLIOTT OR
POUND AND WERE MORE IN LOVE WITH
THE FACT THAT SOMEONE LIKE POUND
WAS FILLING HIS WORK WITH
SCHOLARLY ILLUSIONS, WITH
MYTHICAL ILLUSIONS AND IT BECAME
A TOTALLY --

Marshall says MYTHIC STUDY AND VERY
ANTHROPOLOGICALLY ORIENTED,
ARCHEOLOGICAL ORIENTED, VERY
LEARNED, BUT THE FACT IS THOSE
POETS THEMSELVES CAME OUT OF THE
AGE OF RADIO, AND WOULD HAVE
BEEN UNTHINKABLE WITHOUT THAT
RADIO GROUND AROUND THEM.
THE WHOLE OF THE ENGLISH
LANGUAGE TOOK ON A TREMENDOUS
NEW ORAL LIFE FROM RADIO.
I'M SURE THAT THIS WAS CARRIED
STRAIGHT ON INTO JAZZ AND ROCK
MUSIC.

Eric says ELECTRIC MEDIA CONTRIBUTED TO
THE RETURN OF MORALITY SIMPLY BY
BYPASSING WRITING AND
LITERATURE.
LITERACY IS NOT A PRECONDITION
FOR ANY OF THESE MEDIA.
THEY WORK EQUALLY WELL IN
SOCIETIES THAT DON'T HAVE
WRITING.
THEY'RE NOT AT ALL IMPEDED IN
THEIR OPERATION BY THE PRESENCE
OR ABSENCE OF LITERACY.
THEY SIMPLY IGNORE IT.

A black slate reads “The put-on.”

Marshall says A COMIC, WHEN HE GETS UP IN
FRONT OF PEOPLE, PUTS PEOPLE ON
BY TWISTING THEIR ARMS.
THE JOKES A COMIC TELLS ARE THE
ONES THAT CUT VERY CLOSE TO THE
WERE BONE AND CLOSE TO HOME.
UNLESS THE JOKES COME CLOSE TO
HOME THEY DON'T HAVE ANY
RELEVANCE AND DON'T HAVE ANY
PUT-ON VALUE.
SO, THE ETHNIC JOKES ARE THE
ONES THAT ARE CLOSEST TO HOME.

Marshall says WHEN MY FATHER USED THE TERM
THE “PUT-ON” HE WAS USING A TERM
FROM THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES,
BUT IT RELATES TO A SUDDEN NEW
AWARENESS OF AUDIENCE.
YOU CAN'T PUT ON UNTIL YOU HAVE
SOMEONE OR SOMETHING TO PUT ON,
AND THE ONLY PERSON WHO PUTS ON
ANYTHING OR ANYBODY IS A ROLE
PLAYER.
SO, IT'S A VERY COMPLEX THING.
IT RELATES TO ROLE PLAYING AND
TO THE EFFECTS OF THE NEW MEDIA
AND TO THE DEMANDS THAT THEY PUT
ON US ALL THE TIME, TO BE AWARE
OF AUDIENCE AND TO BE AWARE OF
THE SOCIAL DYNAMICS OF EVERY
NUANCE, EVERY GESTURE, EVERY
ACTION.

Marshall says A “PUT-ON,” THEREFORE, TENDS
TO BE A WAY OF HURTING THE PUBLIC.
IT'S AN ACT OF AGGRESSION
AGAINST PEOPLE, AND I THINK A
WRITER, WHEN HE PICKS UP HIS
PEN, HAS TO PUT ON HIS PUBLIC
THAT WAY.
IF HE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY, IT'S
GOING TO HURT.

Eric says YOU DON'T COMMAND THE
ATTENTION OF AN AUDIENCE BY
BEING NICE TO IT.
YOU HAVE TO TWIST THE ARM.
ONCE YOU'VE GOT THEIR ATTENTION,
YOU'VE GOT TO TWIST THEIR ARM
AND JAB THEM A FEW TIMES IN
ORDER TO KEEP THEM, PARTLY IN
ORDER TO MAKE THEM AN AUDIENCE,
AND PARTLY IN ORDER TO PEEP
THEIR ATTENTION.

Marshall says ROLE PLAYING HAS BECOME THE
NORMAL MODE OF SURVIVAL IN THE
BUSINESS WORLD.
JOBS HAVE DISAPPEARED, AS IT
WERE, BUT ROLE PLAYING HAS COME
IN ON A HUGE SCALE AND IT'S MUCH
MORE FLEXIBLE THAN JOB HOLDING.
JOBS ARE RATHER STATIC
REPETITIVE THINGS, WHEREAS, ROLE
PLAYING IS VERY FLEXIBLE.
YOU CAN PLAY MANY ROLES, BUT YOU
CAN ONLY HAVE ONE JOB AT A TIME.

Eric says THE IMPORTANT THING FOR THE
ROLE PLAYER IS THE AUDIENCE, IS
TO GROUND, THE OTHER PEOPLE.
THE ROLE IS NOT PERFORMED IN THE
ABSTRACT.
IT'S ALWAYS IN RELATION TO A
GROUP OR TO A SITUATION.
IN THESE DAYS OF GLOBAL THEATER
AND INTERNET, ROLE PLAYING IS
EVERYTHING.

A black slate reads “QUEST for identity.” The Q, U and E in “quest” are painted blue.

Mike says IN QUEBEC, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY
DEFINE AS THE QUEST FOR
IDENTITY.

Marshall says I SHOULD THINK THEY ARE
FEELING VERY ABRASIVE ABOUT THE
ENGLISH COMMUNITY AND ABOUT THE
WAY THE AMERICAN SOUTH FELT
ABOUT THE YANKEE NORTH A HUNDRED
YEARS AGO.

Mike says BUT IS IT A NEED FOR SPACE?

Marshall says NO, IT'S A NEED FOR LESS
ABRASIVE ENCOUNTER AND A LITTLE
MORE SPACE BETWEEN THE WHEEL AND
THE AXLE.
WHEN THE WHEEL AND THE AXLE GET
TOO CLOSE TOGETHER THEY LOSE
THAT PLAYFULNESS.
THERE'S NO PLAY LEFT, AND SO
THEY HAVE TO HAVE A BIT OF OIL,
A BIT OF DISTANCING FROM EACH
OTHER AND SO ON.

Mike says THIS DISTANCING, IS THIS
GOING TO BE A PATTERN RIGHT
AROUND THE WORLD?

Marshall says APPARENTLY, SEPARATISMS ARE
VERY FREQUENT ALL OVER THE GLOBE
AT THE PRESENT TIME.
EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IN
THE WORLD IS LOADED WITH
REGIONALISTIC, NATIONALISTIC
LITTLE GROUPS.
EVEN BELGIUM HAS A BIG
SEPARATIST MOVEMENT.

Eric says WE'VE SEEN SOME EXAMPLES IN
THE LAST FEW YEARS IN EUROPE, IN
ASIA AND AROUND THE WORLD OF
SIMILAR SEPARATIST MOVEMENTS
OCCURRING, COUNTRIES BREAKING
UP, OLD TRIBAL GROUPS
REASSERTING THEMSELVES.
THIS IS ALL EXACTLY PART OF THE
GLOBAL THEATER AND THE WAY IN
WHICH ELECTRIC MEDIA REVIVE
THESE OLD ANTITHESES.
WHEN YOU THROW PEOPLE TOGETHER,
ESPECIALLY PEOPLE WITHOUT
IDENTITIES OR IF YOU RUB OFF THE
IDENTITY AND YOU THROW THEM
TOGETHER CLOSELY, THEY HAVE TO
BECOME VIOLENT.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “The instant replay.”
(TAPE REWINDING)
The title multiplies by 3.

Marshall says IT'S LIKE THE PLAYBACK IN
MODERN SPORTS.
THIS IS SURELY ONE OF THE
GREATEST ART FORMS OF OUR TIME,
THE INSTANT PLAYBACK, THE
INSTANT REPLAY, WHICH
CONCENTRATES ATTENTION ON THE
ACTUAL PROCESS OF THE GAME.
I'VE ASKED VARIOUS FOOTBALLERS,
“WHAT'S THIS DONE TO YOUR
ACTUAL PLAY”?
THEY TELL ME, “WE'VE HAD TO
CHANGE THE PLAY, OPEN IT UP A
BIT SO THAT PEOPLE CAN SEE IT AS
IF IT WERE REPLAY.”

Eric says HE REGARDED THE INSTANT
REPLAY AS AN ENORMOUSLY POWERFUL
AND INFLUENTIAL ART FORM,
BECAUSE UNTIL THE T.V. INSTANT
REPLAY, WE HAD NEVER HAD A WAY
OF REVISITING IMMEDIATELY AN
EXPERIENCE.
T.S. ELLIOTT POINTED OUT IN ONE
OF HIS POEMS, ”WE HAD THE
EXPERIENCE BUT MISSED THE MEANING.”
THE REPLAY GIVES YOU THE
MEANING, MINUS THE EXPERIENCE.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Surveillance.” A distorted shadow under the word “surveillance” reads “invading privacy.”

Mike says THE INVESTIGATIONS NOW, THE
C.I.A. AND THE F.B.I., AND EVEN
OUR OWN, GOD FORBID, R.C.M.P.,
HAS THIS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE
ELECTRONIC AGE?

Marshall says WELL, YES, BECAUSE WE NOW
HAVE THE MEANS TO KEEP EVERYBODY
UNDER SURVEILLANCE.
NO MATTER WHAT PART OF THE WORLD
THEY'RE IN WE CAN PUT THEM UNDER
SURVEILLANCE.
IT HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MAIN
OCCUPATIONS OF MANKIND JUST
WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE AND
KEEPING A RECORD OF THEIR GOINGS
ON.
THIS IS THE WAY MOST BUSINESSES
ARE RUN.
EVERY BUSINESS HAS A HUGE
ESPIONAGE SECTOR, AND THIS IA
CALLED “PUBLIC RELATIONS” AND
IT'S CALLED “AUDIENCE RESEARCH.”
AND THIS IS AROUND THE CLOCK.
THIS HAS BECOME THE MAIN
BUSINESS OF MANKIND JUST
WATCHING THE OTHER GUY.

Mike says AND INVADING PRIVACY?

Marshall says INVADING PRIVACY AND, IN
FACT, JUST IGNORING IT.
EVERYBODY HAS BECOME POROUS.

Eric says PRIVACY WAS A SIDE EFFECT OF
THE PHONETIC ALPHABET.
MY FATHER OFTEN SPOKE ABOUT
PRIVACY AS IT RELATED TO THE
ALPHABET AND TO THE SEPARATION
OF NOWHERE FROM KNOWN WHICH IS
THE MAIN EFFECT OF THE ALPHABET.
ELECTRICALLY THERE IS NO LONGER
ANY SEPARATION AND, THEREFORE,
THERE IS NO LONGER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCE THAT WILL GIVE RISE
TO PRIVACY.
THE ONLY CULTURES IN THE WORLD
THAT HAVE EVER DEVELOPED PRIVACY
OR PRIVILEGE IDENTITY ARE THOSE
WHO HAVE LEARNED TO READ WITH
THE ALPHABET, THE ONLY ONE.
THERE IS NO IMPETUS IN THE NEW
MEDIA TO GO IN ANY OF THOSE
DIRECTIONS.
THEY ARE ALL MORE ORIENTED
TOWARDS IMAGERY AND TOWARDS
GROUP IMAGINE AND GROUP
IDENTITY, BUT PRIVATE IDENTITY
AND PRIVACY GO TOGETHER.
IF YOU REMOVE ONE, YOU REMOVE
THE OTHER OR THE CONDITIONS FOR
THE OTHER.
WE ARE NOW SO MUCH UNDER
SURVEILLANCE -- I MEAN, WE EVEN
HAVE GLOBAL POSITIONING
SATELLITES THAT MONITOR WHERE
YOU ARE OR CAN TELL YOU WHERE
YOU ARE WITHIN A FEW FEET OR A
METRE.
THERE IS NO PURPOSE FOR HAVING
PRIVACY.
IT WOULDN'T SERVE ANY FUNCTION
IN THAT WORLD.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “The TV image.” A small TV set appears behind the word TV.
(static)

Marshall says POINT OF VIEW REQUIRE STANZAS
AND THAT'S NOT INVOLVEMENT.
SO, THESE NEW MEDIA DEMAND THAT
YOU GET INVOLVED AND BECOME PART
OF THE ACTION.
THE T.V. IMAGINE IS NOT LIKE THE
FILM IMAGINE, A SIMPLE
SNAPSHOT.
IT IS AN ACTUAL LIVE VORTEX IN
ACTION, AND IT IS, I THINK,
BEHIND WHAT WE CALL THE
“HAPPEN.”
T.V. ITSELF IS A KIND OF
HAPPENING, TECHNICALLY, AND IT
TENDS TO INVOLVE PEOPLE IN ITS
OWN VORTEX.

Eric says MY FATHER WAS PARTICULARLY
TAKEN BY THE TELEVISION IMAGINE,
BECAUSE IT WAS DIFFERENT FROM
ALL OF OUR OTHER EXPERIENCES OF
IMAGERY.
DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT WASN'T MADE
OF PICTURES.
THE T.V. IMAGINE IS A
CEASELESSLY FORMING MOSAIC OF
DOTS OF LIGHT THAT THE VIEWER OR
THE USER HAD TO RECONSTITUTE IN
HIS OWN IMAGINATION FROM MOMENT
TO MOMENT.
WE'VE NEVER HAD THAT KIND OF
PROCESS OR DEMAND PLACED ON US
BY ANY OF OUR OTHER MEDIA UP TO
THAT POINT.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “The user is the content.”

Corinne says I DO REMEMBER AN INCIDENT.
IT'S VERY FUNNY WITH THE
EXPRESSION “MEDIUM IS A MESSAGE.”
JERRY ANKLE IN NEW YORK HAD
PUBLISHED THE LOW VOLUME, “THE
MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE.”
WHEN IT CAME OUT, THERE WAS A
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR.
THEY PRINTED “THE MEDIUM IS A
MASSAGE,” AND HE PHONED MARSHALL
AND HE SAID, “WE MADE A MISTAKE,
MARSHALL.
WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO RECALL
THE WHOLE PRINT, THE WHOLE
PRINTING OF THE BOOK.”
THEY HAD MADE THIS MISTAKE.
MARSHALL SAID, “NO, HOLD OFF
JERRY.”
AH, THE MEDIUM IS A MASSAGE,
YES, THE MEDIUM IS A MASSAGE
BECAUSE THE MEDIUM MASSAGES
PEOPLE, THEY'RE THINKING AND THE
INFLUENCE OF ALL MEDIA.
HE SAID, “LEAVE IT, IT'S
WONDERFUL.”
SO, THAT'S HOW IT BECAME “THE
MEDIUM IS A MASSAGE.”

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Global village.”

Corinne says I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT
MARSHALL CAME UP WITH THE
EXPRESSION “THE GLOBAL VILLAGE.”
AFTER HIS ASSOCIATION WITH BUCKY
FULLER.
I THOUGHT HE GREW OUT OF THAT.
ERIC SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK SO.
WE DISCUSSED IT AT SOME LENGTH
AT ONE POINT, BUT THAT WAS
BUCKY'S BELIEF THAT THE WORLD IS
A GLOBAL VILLAGE.
NOW, WHETHER BUCKY PUT IT INTO
THOSE TERMS, I DON'T KNOW.
IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME AGO.

Mike says WAY BACK IN THE EARLY
FIFTIES, YOU PREDICTED THAT THE
WORLD WAS BECOMING A GLOBAL
VILLAGE, WE'D HAVE GLOBAL
CONSCIOUSNESS, AND I'M WONDERING
NOW IF YOU THINK IT'S
HAPPENING?

Marshall says NOW, WE'RE PLAYING
BACKWARDS.
WE'RE GOING BACK INTO THE
BICAMERAL MIND, WHICH IS TRIBAL
COLLECTIVE, WITHOUT ANY
INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.

Mike says BUT IT SEEMS, DR. MCLUHAN,
THAT THIS TRIBAL WORLD IS NOT FRIENDLY.

Marshall says OH, NO.
TRIBAL PEOPLE ONE OF THEIR MAIN
KINDS OF SPORT IS, SORT OF,
BUTCHERING EACH OTHER.
IT'S A FULL-TIME SPORT IN TRIBAL
SOCIETIES.

Mike says BUT I HAD SOME IDEAS AS WE
GOT GLOBAL AND TRIBAL --

Marshall says THE CLOSER YOU GOT TOGETHER
THE MORE YOU LIKED EACH OTHER?

Mike says YEAH.

Marshall says THERE'S NO EVIDENCE OF THAT
IN ANY SITUATION THAT WE'VE EVER
HEARD OF.
WHEN PEOPLE GET CLOSE TOGETHER
THEY GET MORE AND MORE SAVAGELY
IMPATIENT WITH EACH OTHER.

Mike says WELL, WHY IS THAT, BECAUSE OF
THE NATURE OF MAN?

Marshall says YEAH, HIS TOLERANCE IS TESTED
IN THOSE NARROW CIRCUMSTANCES
VERY MUCH.
VILLAGE PEOPLE AREN'T THAT MUCH
IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER, AND THE
GLOBAL VILLAGE IS A PLACE OF
VERY ARDUOUS INTERFACES AND VERY
ABRASIVE SITUATIONS.

Eric says WELL, IN 1977, HE WAS
THINKING OF THE WORLD AS
TELEVISION HAD LEFT IT.
WE DIDN'T HAVE REALLY VERY MUCH
IN THE WAY OF SATELLITES OR
SPACE TRAVEL, AND THESE HAVE
TRANSFORMED THAT YET AGAIN.
THE GLOBAL VILLAGE HAS BECOME A
MONSTROUS THEATER IN WHICH WE
ALL PLAY ROLES.
JUST CONSIDER THE INTERNET AND
THE WAY WE ALL HAVE IDENTITIES,
CORPORATE IDENTITIES, ROLES,
ADVERTISE, IMAGES THAT WE USE OF
OURSELVES IN ORDER TO PLAY IN
THAT STAGE AND THAT'S A SMALL
PART OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE.
THE GLOBAL VILLAGE MAYBE STARTED
WITH THE TELEGRAPH WHEN PEOPLE
BEGAN TO BE INSTANTLY AWARE OF
WHAT WAS GOING ON AROUND THE
WORLD AS IF IT WERE NEXT DOOR.
THAT WAS EXACERBATED ENORMOUSLY
BY RADIO AND BY TELEVISION, BUT
NOW HERE WE ARE WITH A VERY
DIFFERENT, MUCH MORE INTENSE
SITUATION FULL OF TERRORISTS WHO
ARE SEARCHING FOR IDENTITIES AND
TRYING TO DESTROY OURS.
THE GLOBAL VILLAGE IS NOT A
HAPPY PLACE.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Watch much TV?”

Mike says HOW MUCH TELEVISION DO YOU WATCH?

Marshall says WHENEVER I GET A CHANCE --

Mike laughs.

S continues
WHICH IS NOT TOO OFTEN.
I MISSED “REGALITO” LAST NIGHT.
I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED.

Mike says BUT YOU DON'T WATCH IT THAT OFTEN?

Marshall says NO, I DON'T HAVE THAT MANY OPPORTUNITIES.

Eric says MY FATHER NEVER WATCHED VERY
MUCH TELEVISION BECAUSE,
FRANKLY, HE NEVER GOT THE HABIT.
HE WAS RAISED IN A TIME WITHOUT T.V.
HE'D SPEND THE EVENINGS, OH,
GRADING PAPERS, READING.
HE READ A PRODIGIOUS AMOUNT.
I SUPPOSE HE READ THROUGH TWO OR
THREE OR 400 BOOKS A YEAR,
WHICH, AT THE TIME, WASN'T
CONSIDERED THAT MUCH BUT TODAY
IS RATHER INCREDIBLE.

Corinne says WORK WAS HIS LIFE.
IT WASN'T ANYTHING HE FELT
PRESSURED TO DO.
IT WAS JUST HIS LIFE.
AS A GARDENER, FOR EXAMPLE,
THINKS OF FLOWERS ALL THE TIME
AND ARRANGES AND REARRANGES
THEM, HE WAS THINKING OF
DEVELOPING IDEAS WITHOUT
VERBALIZING WHAT HE WAS DOING.
IT WAS HIS INTENSE INTELLECTUAL
CURIOSITY, REALLY, THAT DROVE HIM.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “X equals the mask.”

Marshall says WHEN AN AMERICAN GOES
OUTSIDE, HE IS HIMSELF.
HE IS HIS PRIVATE SELF.
HE DOES NOT PUT ON A MASK.
OTHER PEOPLE, WHEN THEY GO
OUTSIDE, TEND TO PUT ON MASKS IN
SPEECH OR IN DRESS FOR IN
ACTIONS.
I SUGGEST THAT THERE ARE NO
AMERICAN SYMPHONY CONDUCTORS.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN HAVING GROWN
UP IN HIS EARLY YEARS, AT LEAST,
IN VIENNA, THAT AN AMERICAN
MUSICIAN, NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE
KNOWS ABOUT ORCHESTRAS OR ABOUT
PUBLICS IS NOT ABOUT TO
DRAMATIZE HIMSELF IN THE WAY OF
PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ORCHESTRA
AS HIS PRIVATE MASK OR CORPORATE
MASK, NOR IS HE ABLE TO PUT ON
THE WHOLE PUBLIC AS A MASK.
WHEREAS A EUROPEAN DOESN'T EVEN
THINK ABOUT THIS AS A PROBLEM.
WHEN HE STANDS UP IN FRONT OF
THE ORCHESTRA, HE CEASES TO BE A
PRIVATE PERSON AND BECOMES AN
ACTOR, INSTANTLY.
NOW AN AMERICAN NOT ONLY DOES
NOT LIKE ACTING OR PUTTING ON A
PUBLIC, BUT HE DOES NOT PUT ON A
CORPORATE OR STANDARD VOICE WHEN
HE SPEAKS.
HE USES HIS PRIVATE VOICE, AND
THIS, OF COURSE, ENABLES THE
AMERICANS TO HAVE NO CLASS
CONSCIOUSNESS AND NO CLASS
STRUCTURE.

Eric says THERE'S NO PRIVACY IN AN
AMERICAN HOME, EVERY KID KNOWS THIS.
YOU WANT PRIVACY, YOU GOT OUT TO
A RESTAURANT, YOU GO OUT ON A DATE.
YOU GO OUT.
YOU GO OUT TO THE THEATER, TO
THE MOVIE.
WE CAN SEE THIS NOW ENDING IN
OUR WORLD, THIS PATTERN OF GOING
OUT FOR PRIVACY, BECAUSE WHEN
YOU GO TO A THEATER NOW YOU GET
ADVERTISEMENTS AND
ADVERTISEMENTS ARE ALL PRIVACY
INVADERS.
WHEN YOU GO TO A THEATER NOW YOU
GET ADS, AND THAT MEANS THIS
PATTERN OF AMERICANS GOING
OUTSIDE FOR PRIVACY IS COMING TO
AN END.
IT'S COMING TO AN END FOR
ANOTHER REASON, AND THAT IS
OUTSIDE IS NOW ALL THEATER, THE
GLOBAL THEATER.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “You play, you act.”

Marshall says WELL, I THINK ANYBODY WHO'S
HEARD HIS VOICE ON A RECORDING
IS APPALLED AT THE CONDITION OF
VOCALIZING, AND THE SAME WHEN HE
SEES HIMSELF ON T.V.
I THINK HE RESOLVES HE NEVER
WANTS TO LOOK AT THAT OR LIKE
THAT AGAIN.
IN OTHER WORDS, I THINK THE NEED
THAT THE MEDIA CREATES IS FOR
ACTING.
PEOPLE REALIZE THAT JUST THEIR
PLAIN PRIVATE SELF IS NOT
ADEQUATE TO THE MEDIA, AND I
THINK THIS DRIVES PEOPLE TOWARDS
DRAMATIZING.

Eric says THE ELECTRIC MEDIA RIPS OFF
ANY POSSIBILITY OF PRIVATE IDENTITY.
THE ALTERNATIVE IS ROLE PLAYING,
AND A ROLE PLAYER, GIVEN AN
AUDIENCE OR IN NEED OF AN
AUDIENCE BEGINS TO ACT.
HE BEGINS TO ACT OUT.
HE PUTS ON THE SITUATION AND THE
PEOPLE AND THE GRIEVANCE AND
BEGINS TO PLAY IT.
THESE PEOPLE ARE DRAMATIZING A
GRIEVANCE IN THEIR LIVES, A
GRIEVANCE OF THE LOSS OF
IDENTITY AND THE LOSS OF
COMMUNITY AND THE CONSEQUENCE IS
DISORIENTATION.
IT ISN'T THE CONTENT THAT'S
MAKING THEM VIOLENT AT ALL.
IT'S THE SITUATION PERPETRATED
BY THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT HAS
BROUGHT THIS VIOLENCE INTO THEIR
LIVES AND THEIR IMAGINATIONS.
SO, THEY RESPOND BY DRAMATIZING
AND PLAYING IT OUT, PERHAPS, AS
A WAY OF EXERCISING IT.

(music plays)
A black slate reads “Zo long!” The word “Zo” is written with a Z.

Tom says COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISES HAVE
CAUGHT ON TO THE FACT THAT ALL
THE NETWORKS WANT ON THE SIX
O'CLOCK NEWS THE LAST ITEM TO BE
SOMETHING FUNNY.
I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHY THIS IS
TRUE.
MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE YOU'VE JUST
BEEN SLOTTED FOR HALF AN HOUR,
AND THEY WANT A LITTLE KICKER.
SO, THE LAST ITEM ON THE NEWS
EVERY DAY IS ALWAYS, REALLY, A
COVERT ADVERTISEMENT, PURE AND
SIMPLE.
THE LAST ONE I REMEMBER SEEING
IN NEW YORK BEFORE LEAVING WAS A
GROUP OF MODELS IN BIKINIS
DRESSED UP IN APE SUITS.
THEY WENT TO THE CENTRAL PARK
ZOO AND FED THE MONKEY.
IN THEIR APE SUITS, THEY FED THE
MONKEYS BANANAS, AND EVERY
SINGLE, LOCAL NEWS STATION AND
EVERY NETWORK IN NEW YORK RAN
THIS THING AS THE LAST ITEM ON
THE SHOW, AND IT WAS AN
ADVERTISEMENT FOR “THE CONQUEST
OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.”
UNFORTUNATELY.
SO, IT'S NOT SO MUCH THE
NETWORKS MANIPULATING THE NEWS.
IT'S JUST SETTING UP THIS SYSTEM
AND THEN OTHER PEOPLE USE IT.

Marshall says THIS RAISES SOMETHING WE
HAVEN'T REALLY TALKED ABOUT, BUT
THAT IS THE NEWS HAS TO BE A
PUT-ON.
IT HAS TO PUT ON A PUBLIC, AND
SO THE LAST COMIC TWIST IN THE
NEWS WOULD BE A WAY OF
DISMISSING THE PUBLIC AND SAYING SO LONG.

(Mournful music plays)
A black slate shows a picture of McLuhan in a garden, with a caption that reads “1911-1980. The truth shall make you free.”

The end credits roll.

In order of appearance:
Mike McManus.
Marshall McLuhan.
Eric McLuhan.
Mrs. Corinne McLuhan.
Tom Wolfe.

Executive Producer, Rudy Buttignol.

Producers, Rudy Buttignol and David Sobelman.

Writer and Director, David Sobelman.

Original Music, Don Thompson.

Cordial thanks to The Family of Marshall McLuhan and The McLuhan Estate.

Marshall McLuhan’s ABC. A production of TVOntario.

Copyright 2002, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Marshall McLuhan's ABC