McLuhan and Hansen


It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it.  That, in a nutshell, seems to be what McLuhan is saying when he says “the medium is the message”.  The media one chooses to make a statement, whether radio, TV or—as he describes—putting your message up in lights, is as important to McLuhan as the words/images, etc themselves. It is easy to infer then that he believes that in every message there is the second message, sent by the choice of medium. Even the font we chose to blog in sends a message—and it is up to the person receiving that message to figure out what it is.


  “This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium.” (p.29). This always reminds me of the scene in the movie Animal House –when Pinto smokes marijuana for the first time, and is amazed that he could have a whole world in his little finger. Unscholarly digression aside, McLuhan says that there is no way to separate media, so speech on TV is TV and a speech, which is a thought, etc. In McLuhan’s purview, it seems nothing, not even that light bulb, is pure media, it is all reliant upon something else.


Hansen says that McLuhan’s “medium is the message’ may be oversimplified: “one might even want to say that is neat dialectics was always a bit too neat, that the shift from message to medium never fully takes place…” (p. 298).  Hansen, writing in the Internet age, says that what McLuhan’s theories did was bring together the medium and the person receiving the media (the human and the technical). 


Both McLuhan and Hansen take into account the fact that media cannot be conceived in a vacuum, it is important, I think, in all these studies to really look at not just what the media is saying and how it’s sent, but perhaps most importantly,  how it is received.


2 Responses to “McLuhan and Hansen”

  1. You bring up an interesting point. Media’s effects are really reliant on the consumer. You can send out a single message and it can be interpreted differently by each person who receives it. And not just the message is dependent on the recipient, but the media as well. Media influences each of us in different ways. And, also, as you stated, media is not consumed in a vacuum. So added to the equation are a million other outside influences. And the biggest of these influences is each other. We each are affected by media in different ways and then we affect each other by our differences. We are all constantly being influenced by everyone and everything around us. Everything (and everyone) is a medium with a message.

  2. Hey, no fair, you stopped right when you were getting to the good part! I tease but I think you do have something interesting to say about the audience/reception end of media and message and I am curious to hear what that is.

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