ALRIGHTY! Well for this weeks class ,the theme we studied was called “The Medium is the Message”. Now if you’re not confused and thinking, medium wasteline?, medium psychic?, Medium…. Quarter Pounder Meal with no pickles and fries (like me)? , then you my friends are gifted.
Anyway! I’m getting off track; So after some sizeable research and some serious ‘quarter pounder and me time’, I think I have somehow come to terms with a definition that even I can understand. So let’s break it down.
In short, the word ‘Medium’ means –actions made as a way of communication for human thought i.e speaking, moving or writing (something to be expressed), OR the creations of things constructed from human thought i.e material objects of our civilisation formed via human hands and inspired by human thought- like technology and architecture.
So that is what mediums are –Forms of human expression and creation. That is how humans are human, buildings are built and programmes are programmed – ‘Mediums’.
Messages on the other hand, according to a man named McLuhan, are present in every medium. He decided that personal and social consequences occur as a result of every new idea and every new innovation and thus every time a medium is changed, the message a.k.a the social consequence, changes.
So in short the way in which a new message emanates from a medium is in its evolution.
An example I thought captured the gist of this theory really well is the court system; namely in the process of cross examination. I know, who would have thought, a law student talking about law things, Crazy.
Anyway, first it must be understood that Australia’s court system is classified as an adversarial one. This basically means that litigants- people initiating battles in courts- are represented by lawyers who present their case to a neutral third party; The judge. On this platform, lawyers present evidence. Evidence which is tested based on the quality of its merits and used by jurors to come to a conclusion about the truth of a situation and their stance on someone’s guilt. This process of testing evidence is known as cross examination. However, whilst this unbiased system of testing is theoretically simple- it is impossible to ever truly achieve.
Quintessentially this is because of the medium which is integral to its execution; Speech.
Through the medium of speech, each side is presented via different lawyers. Different lawyers, with different skill sets and different levels of acquaintance with the power of manipulation.
This can be seen in the 2015 documentary series called’Making a Murderer‘. This recent Netflix hit stars the very real, very unfortunate Steven Avery, a man wrongly convicted and jailed for 18 years on account of a sexual assault that was later forensically proven he did not commit, and who once released, has been allegedly framed for the brutal murder of a young woman, Teresa Halbach. The trial, mainly filmed during each lawyer’s lecture to both the jury and each other’s witnesses, presented an insurmountable amount of confusion and suspicion of conspiracy, mismatched evidence and testimony – the theme of the prosecution’s case.
Nearing the close of the series Steven Avery was returned a verdict of guilty, an astounding conclusion from a jury that would have had to think beyond reasonable doubt – that is at least 11 out of the 12 jurors- that Steven Avery was the definite murderer.
This finish caused massive shell-shock, blame on the system and most notably on the lawyer presenting the case against Steven, suddenly emerging from the virtual grapevine.
To me, what is so enthralling about this show is not just its authenticity, but the message it sends about the ability of our justice system to be manipulated by; unfair tactics, falsified evidence, misleading statements and motives other than uncovering the truth.
‘Making a Murderer‘ is relatable to McLuhan’s theory as it so obviously points out the true power of mediums. This is not just in their mechanism (in this case through speech) to present evidence, but in the way the medium is changed- time and time again, to change the opinions of people holding the fate of someone else’s life, or wellbeing in their hands! ; the change of the medium changes the social consequence.
SO! What have we learnt here? Well I’m hoping that your answer is that you know what ‘The Medium is the Message’ means because if not! I have just officially reaffirmed that I should never, never- ever become a teacher; so thank you for that instead.
Once again thanks for reading folks,
Header Image: “President Of The United States: Free Steven Avery”. Change.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.