Summary: To help the audience to leave with a heightened awareness of the way their homes are impacted by the media and to take aggressive action to prevent them from harming their homes
I want you to be aware that a little dwarfed man who was running a scam here locally was recently caught by police. He was pretending to be a channeller, a spirit medium – someone who can communicate with the dead – and he was scamming people. So, they put him in our local prison. But he’s so small, he actually slipped through the bars and escaped. Right now, local authorities want us to be on the lookout for a small medium at large.
I’m actually going to use the word “media” a lot – that just means the same as “mediums” – but not spirit mediums! It describes the ways that are used to deliver a message – like TV, music, radio, the internet, smoke signals, books, and public speaking. These are “the media” that we use today to communicate, and they’re an important part of our lives.
The media are powerful. Are they just reporting what’s happening, or do they affect what will happen? There have been a lot of discussions concerning just how much the news should report and how much it should withhold; Wikileaks was introduced 5 years ago, and has led to a long list of controversy over media. The news media have to be careful, because they have the ability to incite panic.
Ill - It happened the day before Halloween, on Oct. 30, 1938, when millions of Americans tuned in to a radio program that featured plays by Orson Welles. The performance that evening was an adaptation of the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, about a Martian invasion of the earth. But Welles made an important change: under his direction the play was written and performed so it would sound like an actual news broadcast about an invasion from Mars. It was supposed to heighten the dramatic effect. It did. Thousands of people across the US went into a panic, thinking that the US was actually being overrun by Martians, starting in New Jersey.
In the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson wrote: "…Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time. They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.”
I’ll tell you what, a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can still convince masses of people of totally unreasonable, completely fantastic propositions today. And they are!
Radio was a mainline medium in 1938. And it proved just how powerful it could be. It was the next year in NY that the World’s Fair showcased television, and regular broadcasting began and hasn’t stopped since. 1957, Sputnik was launched and opened up the space age and the beginnings of global communications. Sometime after that, Al Gore invented the internet, and now I can instantly communicate with someone on the other side of the world for next to nothing.