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Medium VS. Message

Marshal McLuhan once said, before appearing in Best-Picture-Winning Annie Hall (1977), "the medium is the message" to his fellow communication philosophers and subsequent generations who would have to take a Media Theory course at liberal arts college.

What McLuhan meant by this was simply: the way in which you absorb a thing (mostly media in this case, so movies in a theater, TVs in your house, cell phone's in your pocket) has an affect on the thing you're absorbing and how you absorb it. McLuhan was well known for describing it by way of the light in a light bulb. The medium (gas reacting within the confines of the bulb) is the message it's sending out (the light itself).

So, in terms of media and communication, McLuhan proposes that if you were to learn something, the way in which you learn that thing has an influence on how you are going to respond to the thing, or even IS the thing itself.

Imagine, if there wasn't radio, how would most people have heard about Pearl Harbor? Without TV, how would people have watched the Moon Landing or found out about JFK? There were most definitely people who read the article and watched the video regarding Edward Snowden and what he discovered working for the CIA on their computers, phones, or tablets.

But, are those things the actual means by which they were or are presented? The news, being brought to the people, is their right, which is why most people who are alive now have heard about most of these events from parents and teachers, which is a very particular medium and message. Media, and specifically film, is no different.

It's hard to avoid articles about how more people are watching movies and TV this day in age and the ways in which it's possible to do that is become more various (think HBO-GO, Hulu Plus, and obviously Netflix). So, of course, the thing itself does change. The physical properties of your experience will be different if you watch a film on a 20-foot screen in a theater as opposed to the 15-inch screen of your laptop, assuming you have one.

It's up to you to decide whether you agree or disagree with McLuhan, but as someone who also writes fiction, this writer would be hard pressed to say their words meant something different if read in a book or on a computer or through a phone, as any writer, or film director about their work, would. It's the words themselves that matter, not where you read them, right? Or is that too much of a Millennial mentality?

Nevertheless, continue to watch the vast majority of new films and television from their laptop whilst further growing their DVD collection, this writer will.

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