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 Head Line: fear and rage

McLuhan on the Headline

  • Wares and rumors of wares in a time of Trump.
  • The story content becomes the merchandise.

From The Mechanical Bride

But the headline is a feature which began with the Napoleonic Wars. The headline is a primitive shout of rage, triumph, fear, or warning, and newspapers have thrived on wars ever since. And the newspaper, with two or three decks of headlines, has also become a major weapon. …
Any kind of excitement or emotion contributes to the possibility of dangerous explosions when the feelings of huge populations are kept inflamed even in peacetime for the sake of the advancement of commerce. Headlines mean street sales. It takes emotion to move merchandise. And wars and rumors of wars are the merchandise and also the emotion of the popular press.

The headline is designed to gain attention : a string to take you away from what you were thinking to what else you could think. Anything that attracts attention is a commodity. Merch. Wares.

McLuhan would see in Trump a return to the telegraph press - pre-mosaic.


See McLuhan’s remarks on Time.

mcluhan_on_the_headline.txt · Last modified: 2021/02/16 22:32 by morgan