Watching-As-Knowing Vs. Reading-As-Knowing

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Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book written by Neil Postman, assesses the efficacy of print and visual media consumption. The book begins by arguing that the current world is completely committed to the concept of entertainment (Postman 3). The author also points out that the vision of Aldous Huxley in the book Brave New World is one that deserved increased focus since the author predicted that the downfall of the world will be dependent on what human beings love most. The thesis of the work written by this article is that the television and visual media channels have influenced the level of public communications in the contemporary world (Postman, 1985). The purpose of this research is to test the validity of Dr. Postman_x0092_s thesis in relations to the media by analyzing and comparing the phrases _x0093_watching is believing_x0094_ and _x0093_reading is believing_x0094_ (Postman 3). The analysis will be from the novel Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and the 1940 film adapted from the novel.

Postman argues that the contemporary world is made up of individuals who love leisure, laughter, and entertainment and hence seek information from television _x0093_which has put us in a position where we are "slowly amusing ourselves to death_x0094_ (Postman 3-4). To determine the truth behind Postman_x0092_s thesis, I read Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and the 1940 film adapted from the novel. The Grapes of Wrath is the story narrating the experiences of the family of Tom Joad from the time they are evicted out of their farm in Oklahoma to the time their experience their first winter in California. Reading the book had more influence on my mind compared to watching the film. At the beginning of the book, the narrator provides a vivid description of the appearance of Oklahoma. The narrator describes the last time it rained in the region and the current drought experienced. From the description, as a reader, I can picture how the land is dry and the how the area is excessively hot. On the other hand, filming merely portrays to the viewer the short story described as one unit. From reading the novel, I was able to understand that even though Tom has committed murder, his experiences have assisted him to gain a new insight in life. By reading the novel, I have been able to obtain an understanding that Tom now acknowledges that he should be concerned about the welfare of all of the community that is undergoing mistreatment within the farms in California.

Given the fact that I support Dr. Postman_x0092_s thesis that argues that printed data is more efficient in delivering information compared to television, I started by reading the novel written by Steinbeck then afterward watched the film adapted from the book. I had never read the book before, so I was forced to start my reading from the beginning of the book while paying attention to every aspect of the narration process. The narrator in the novel is Tom hence the story is portrayed in his context while providing detailed information about his thought process while giving an insight into the reasons for some of his actions. I decided to concentrate on one particular instance while comparing the portrayal in the book and the film. The scene narrates how Tom hitched a ride on a truck. First, the narrator reveals that Tom is wearing all new but cheap clothes indicating he had to get new clothes since he came out of prison. The appearance of the truck driver and the restaurant is clearly portrayed. Tom uses manipulation to trick the driver into giving him a lift even though he is well aware it is against the company policies. When it comes to the movie, it is up to the viewer to pay attention to Tom_x0092_s clothes to notice they are new. Moreover, the attentiveness of the audience plays a major role in making them see the appearance of the restaurant as well as the succession of events unlike in the book where it is clearly indicated. The book also explains the physique and appearance of Tom unlike in the film.

His upper lip was long, and since his teeth protruded, the lips stretched to cover them, for this man kept his lips closed. His hands were hard, with broad fingers and nails as thick and ridged as little clam shells. The space between thumb and forefinger and the hams of his hands were shiny with callus (Steinbeck 5).

The chapters in the novel narrate how the landowners are dominant over the powerless tenant farmers. Tom_x0092_s family is tenant farmers who are evicted out of the farm as the land owners value the function of tractors over people. Tom_x0092_s narration of their experience clearly depicts the exploitation of the migrants as they head towards their promised uncorrupt land full of abundant opportunities. The narrative portrays the trains of Tom as a microcosmic representation of the injustices and misery that numerous of American living during that time experienced by being mistreated by the powerful in the community.

It's not me. There's nothing I can do. I'll lose my job if I don't do it. And look -- suppose you kill me? They'll just hang you, but long before you're hung there'll be another guy on the tractor, and he'll bump the house down. You're not killing the right guy (Steinbeck 49).

However while reading the novel; Tom appears to be an aggressive person who can easily commit murder. For instance, in the case that he decides to kill a police officer after the brutal beating of Casey portrays him as a violent individual. However, from reading the novel, one can easily relate to Tom_x0092_s frustration watching his friend unfairly mistreated both those in power. Initially, I had expected that the setting of the site in the movie and the series would be similar. I expected that the characters would be similar to their description in the novel but however, they would naturally not fit my exact imagination.

From the analysis of the two sources of data, it was evident that film made it easier to understand activities in a scene as it has an immediate and more direct relationship with events described. Moreover, sounds in the movies also enhance the viewer's understanding of a scene. However, the film failed to explain people_x0092_s inner thoughts and worlds. The camera only has the capability of shown the surface and hence has to adopt other methods to express the feelings of individuals. Readers and viewers, therefore, have different experiences in one story. When it comes to narration, the film was only able to show the story while the novel told the story in details, step by step.

In conclusion, I have endorsed Dr. Postman_x0092_s thesis as reading the novel written by John Steinbeck unquestionably constructed a different idea of the narrated story compared to the conception that came from viewing the film. Postman argues,

Together, this new ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world _x0096_ a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is the world without much coherence or sense; the world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; the world that is, as the child's game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining (Postman 77).

I could easily relate this statement to the movie, unlike the novel. The movie is simply a series of endless entertainment scenes while reading the book. I was able to have an insight in the thought and feelings of Tom about the events and activities taking place around him. I could relate to the narrator's experiences and hence can understand that the aggressive nature of Tom played a significant element in teaching that for there to be fairness in the world, the oppressed have to come together and work as one unit towards protecting their rights. Similar to the argument of Dr. Postman, while reading the novel, I was able to weigh, compare and contrast idea.

_x000c_Works Cited

Ford, John, director. Grapes of Wrath. Twentieth Century Fox, 1940.

Steinbeck, John. Grapes of Wrath. The Viking Press, 1939.

Postman, N. Amusing Ourselves to Death. Penguin Books, 2005.

October 12, 2022
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Communication Biology

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