The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America - Chapter 1 - Introduction - Section III Summary & Analysis

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Boorstin introduces the book with his main thesis about the creation of pseudo-events in America and how they have come to dominate the collective consciousness. He posits that there are two main "extravagant expectations" that Americans hold. The first expectation is that there is always more that the world can provide. The second expectation is that we have unlimited power to fashion the world to our desires. Boorstin asserts that these two expectations lead to the creation of illusions and thus pseudo-events in order to maintain and strengthen those illusions. Finally, he states that our issues with foreign countries have more to do with their unwillingness to believe our illusions and that the greatest domestic changes will arise from dismantling the illusions.

In section I, Boorstin describes how the telling of news has changed from reporting what was seen to actively creating what is seen in order to "make up for the lack of spontaneous events". He introduces the term pseudo-event and describes it as a false event that is intentionally created. Boorstin lists four main aspects of pseudo-events: the event is intentionally created, the event is designed to be "reported or reproduced", the connection of the event to the "underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous", and the event is "intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy".

In section II, Boorstin discusses the impact of the Graphic Revolution, which increased the ease of creation and transmission of several different types of media. He suggests that the newfound ability to transmit images led to the preference of the image over the actual reality of the event, and the temptation to newsmen to make images that were "probable". With the advent of television news programs, there was increased pressure to deliver constant "news" in order to fill the program time as well as to financially support the company. Boorstin suggests that this phenomenon led to the creation of even more pseudo-events, including interviews. Newsmen were given a great deal of power because of the public interest in competing interpretations and commentary.

Section III describes how pseudo-events have affected the political arena. Boorstin states that the Congressional Record, "has had no more than the faintest resemblance to what is actually said there". The actual content of speeches and addresses given by political figures is news only when the speakers depart from the prepared speech. FDR was a major figure of presidential creation of pseudo-events including his solidification of the Presidential press conference and his fireside chats. Joseph McCarthy developed a technique of calling morning press conferences in order to announce afternoon press conferences in order to enhance his prestige. Boorstin also notes that the use of video cameras can give a different perspective to a television viewer than an actual viewer at the event would experience.

This section contains 474 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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