Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Susan J. Douglas Article: Another Viewpoint

The "Listening In: Radio End the American Imagination" interested me as well, but in a different way. I agree with Joshua Rosenzweig that language is what is not spoken, but I agree with Douglas that the radio expands the imagination. Without a visual of the radio host or singer, our minds can do the imagining for us. For example, when I hear St. John's voice on 99.7 I think of someone who might look like the famous rapper Pitbull ( Caucasian, bald, young. But in reality, St. John looks nothing like that ( In fact, I am still surprised that he looks like! The radio allows us to forget about the physical characteristics of the host out and instead, let's us focus on the content of what is actually being said.  While listening, it doesn't matter if the radio host is good-looking, a red-head, Asian, or in their 50's. What matters is that we can relate (positively or negatively) to what they are saying.

Douglas says, "radio has worked most powerfully inside our heads, helping us create internal maps of the world and our place in it, urging us to construct imagined communities to which we do or do not, belong". In our society today, so many things are superficial and materialistic that we tend to lean towards what is considered the "best" or "prettiest" or "popular". The radio connects listeners from different places, different social classes, and different races with real conversation. Instead of making assumptions or being biased about someone, our imagination can paint us our own picture of who is talking based on what we are hearing. These ideas are more pure because we can only judge them on what they say without real connection to definite person or thing. 

1 comment:

  1. Karen, I appreciate the alternative viewpoint on Douglas. Your points about radio are worth keeping in mind as we proceed to a discussion of the World Wide Web & the Internet next week, since the latter are an even more dramatic example of "anonymous" communication.

    Another criterion that might be worth adding here is the idea of interactivity. Up until recently, radio certainly seemed to have television beat on this front (since you can call in to a local station and even request a song). Of course, Klinenberg's pieces call this kind of listener-inspired radio into question today (is it all scripted?).