Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Lure of the Big Screen TV

Glenn and I recently turned part of our basement into a podcast studio and media center, and just bought a big screen tv for it, actually this one, which is 46 inches long. I do watch some TV, but usually dvd's or shows like Sex and the City that I record. But watching the news on the big screen tv with high definition has a different feel than watching it on my small one without high def. It is more personal and engaging, like I know the people who are coming up on my screen. The news seems more "real" and urgent than it does on a small tv. I wonder how this feel plays into our psyche. Given the more personal feel of newer and better TVs, I wonder if people are more swayed by the media images that they see, since it sounds and feels more real than in years past. I wonder how this plays itself out in politics.

My patients, regardless of political party, often come in and parrot to me the news they hear on tv without question. You know, the Dems are great, the Republicans evil and such. When I watched the news just now with Nancy Pelosi and Wolf Blitzer, it seemed that they were right in my media room, talking to me personally. TV encourages people to think by linking images in their brains. Are these images stronger and more persuasive on a big screen with high def like the new ones out than they were on the smaller less clear ones? Now that tvs are getting cheaper and cheaper as well as bigger and clearer, will the emotions of viewers become even easier to manipulate? And if so, how will that play out in a medium that is captured by the liberal media? As tv's get bigger, clearer, and cheaper, will we start to see blue everywhere?


Blogger Mercurior said...

i think of big brother, and a brave new world, tv will soon be the only thing in the world you wont go outside and experience life, you will see a sanitized daytime tv version, no swearing no sex, education will be done via TV, its starting now.

soon people wont go out because they get all they need, governement everythings OK, no need to look outside we have everything you need right here on you 50 inch tv

3:30 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Cham said...

46 inches? Sounds great. HDTV giant size in everyone's rumpus room, 400 channels and if that isn't enough download whatever you want off the net. More people watching TV means less people outdoors, which brings me to my happy place.

4:55 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Its interresting that as the media get more distorted and unbalanced the picture in our living room, become clearer. One can argue that this makes the message in the box a little sharper in some minds.

5:22 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, perhaps sharper in some minds that are sharp to begin with, but I wonder about those who are easily swayed or manipulated by images. I imagine if the brighter, clearer image with a more personal feel might make them feel closer to, and identify more with the point of view of the speaker.

6:10 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

I love our HDTV. And most of what I watch is a little sports, 24, and HDTV stuff like concerts and Discovery Channel type stuff.

I watch more tv than I used to, but still not much. But it did change what I watch as the picture is SO good, that I even like Sunrise Earth.

But I still don't watch the news.


6:48 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

The crowd that watches the nightly news are already swayed by the network's presentation of the days events. But the lines on the face of the concerned news reader may make the message seem more personal. Its easier to relate and connect with a person face to face then it is on a telephone. If High Definition makes it seem like a real person is in the room with you, I say, yea, one may identify more readily with the point of view of the speaker. But on the other hand we interact with multiple world views everyday in the form of living breathing human beings and are not quick to forsake what one believe.

8:41 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well here in Canada our two state funded tv stations ( one in English and one in French ) usually show images of wounded middle eastern kids and crying middle eastern mothers right after they have shown Bush's face.

They want to make sure Canadians associate - either consciously or unconsciously - Bush ( or the US in general ) with the misery of children and mothers... but somehow this trick is never used for Fidel in Cuba or Amhadinejd in Iran,
Anyone surprised?

I think the better image of a high definition TV will only help the liberal media better brain wash people.

On a high definition tv misery will look well...more miserable.

Those images will be more heart breaking, and it is with emotions that you manipulate people - not with facts.

People with bad intent always "recuperate" technology to use it to do bad things,

Terrorists use cell phone to detonate bombs,
When they don't have bombs they use airplanes full of fuel to kill 3000 people,
and the Liberal Media will use high definition tv to better brainwash people, to better tarnish the right and so on.

As long as we are not showned the good things acomplished in Iraq, it does not matter how clear the image is.

As long as we are not showned the latest despicable thing the left has done, it does not matter how clear the image is.

No technology can compensate for people with bad intent, and the left does have bad intent.

Other wise why would they have taken control of the media, Academia and almost everything else from book stores well... to almost anything that can influence how people think?

Propaganda will now be in high definition, but it will still come from the left,

and I can not imagine when that will change.

9:22 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a great read on how the TV age influences culture, politics, etc, read "amusing ourselves to death" by neil postman.

10:53 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you aren't that sympathetic, engaged, or interactive with the real people in your life, people who "seem real" on big-screen television aren't going to engage your interest either.

10:57 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might read (going back 30+ years to undergrad days) Marshall McLuhan, who argued that the medium is, or is a vital part of, the message. Electronic media create a global village in which something gory that happens rarely, and a thousand miles away, is now happening, tonight, and in your front room. Celebrities are someone people refer to by their first name because, after all, they are their nightly house guests, etc.

As far as the android media, a trait I find rather annoying when I bother to watch is the training of newscasters to always flash a big smile. Schoolbus goes over cliff, 40 kids die in fiery crash, flash a smile. Terrorists loose in our community, you are probably next for beheading, flash a smile.

11:07 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. I have no idea if this is fact or not.but I read that 67% of the jewish population voted democratic in the last election.I have read at least 25 different authers trying to understand why most,at least of the northeast,and western parts of the country do this.It seems that they ignore the danger to themselves.the arabs will not bomb in the flyover only in the large cities,and and if given the chance will certainly attack the jewish population first.?thank you

11:27 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Dr. Helen,

I think you are correct. It reminds me of people who grew up with special effects in movies and TV who seem to think people easily survive being shot and are assured of walking away from serious car crashes. Apparently the more real TV gets, the more surreal our perceptions become.

Normally, when we see compelling events firsthand or discuss important matters in person, we experience a cascade of reactions that causes us to focus and hopefully results in critical thinking. Watching TV makes it easier to respond emotionally rather than critically because we are divorced from personal involvement in the event or topic. So while there is a feeling of more personal involvement with the participants, there is also a buffer that separates us as passive participants from the active participants.

It is also easier to detect lies when you listen to someone than when you see them, so we are all more susceptible to being deceived by the talking heads on TV than by radio commentators.

Of course, this could all be a bunch of BS. After all, I was a liberal arts major so it's fair to say I have a degree in BS.

11:49 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger Barry Dauphin said...


This seems to be a continuation of a trend with TV. TV has often managed to create an intimacy and familiarity with those who appear on it. Witness the colume of entertainment shows that make the "stars" seem approachable and intimate with us (even though they are far from it). My own take has been that we live in an age of tantalization, and I even connect it to the myth of Tantalus. I think we will continue to see the blurring of these kinds of boundaries, and it will take a fair amount of self control and perspective about oneself (and a sense of humor) to keep one's head on straight.

12:03 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Barry Dauphin said...

oops..... volume of TV shows

12:05 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger kentuckyliz said...

Well, I've been lounging around the house watching way too much telly this last week, recuperating from gall bladder surgery, and strung out on percocet.

I have satellite telly, with hundreds of channels of absolute crap.

I can't wait to get back to my real life and away from the telly!

12:06 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen:

I tend to agree with you about being influenced by faces on the screen, how they can fool you into thinking you know them. In 2004, I dropped cable except for basic service because I was more interested in blogs. Cable had nothing I wanted to see.

In March of this year, I bought a music DVD and have played it for 97 consecutive days, still paying it. Now I feel like I *know* every person in the orchestra, the singer, and most of the audience in the first six rows. If I went to Brussels I'm sure I would meet them on the street and in stores.
It's that kind of music, it's a great show I never tire of.

But TV does not hold my attention the same way. I wouldn't be impressed by Wolf Blitzer if he was standing in my media room, except to ask him to leave or, 'How in hell did YOU get in here?!'

I've known many politicians, personally, in my time and don't believe anything they say. When they introduce themselves I think they are lying.

No, I would not like news anchors being more real than they are. Thanks to your spous and others I have learned how to *read* the news as they speak. Too bad many others haven't done the same.

12:35 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Around here, since we got a big HDTV, we're watching more programs that look especially pretty in HD: sports and nature shows. We're not watching nearly as much news as we used to, so I would say TV news has less effect on us now that we have the big HD panel.

Another thing to consider is that when watching a talking head in HD, you suddenly notice a zit, a wrinkle (or conspicuous lack of wrinkles), or precisely how strange that anchor's hair is. It's also that much easier to see them reading the teleprompter. Then maybe you think, "Heck, this is just an ordinary person. All that beauty is fake! Maybe all that knowledge is fake too. Do I really need to pay attention to this twit with a little bit of lipstick on her capped teeth?"

In other words, does more human necessarily mean more authoritative? Or might familiarity breed contempt?

12:38 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Tim's comment, which I think is quite good, reminds me of a recent discussion at the blogs of GM Roper and Assistant Village Idiot. I think Republicans tend to be more policy-driven so they focus on the message, while Democrats are more likely to be people-driven and they focus on the messenger instead of the message.

Perhaps the better that visual images become, the more they focus us on the messenger rather than the message.

1:20 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

A 46 inch hi-def TV?

Mrs. Reynolds, you shouldn't be worrying about the news media. Rather, you should be worrying about how much popcorn you'll need on hand when you invite all your readers over for a marathon viewing of all the Lord of the Rings movies (director's cuts, cause you love us).

"No one tosses a dwarf!"

1:39 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

I suspect that people will become more believable as they spout news/opinions, at least for a time until we adjust, but the question is who are we going to be watching? If Apple's upcoming iTV becomes as popular as the iPod, when it is released in Q1, 2007, for houses with broadband, news is likely to be much less MSM than you'd think.

1:58 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Smith,

I don't agree with your thesis that a larger, sharper image of a newscaster makes them, at least on a subliminal level, more credible.

I recently bought a high-def, flat-screen 32-inch TV (I couldn't go over 40 inches, because I couldn't abide the thought of paying more than $2,000 for a television set).

When it comes to television newsreaders and reporters, my new gear has made me more aware of their physical appearances (and visual oddities) than I was before. I thought, why do they look so washed out? Why does that one woman/man look older than I recall? I noticed that the narrowed eyes of one of the local TV newscasters made him look like a space alien, a feature that wasn't as pronounced on my old 21-inch, low-tech screen.

The television images are more striking on high def, of course. But the audio information being conveyed, at least in my experience, is not any more or less persuasive. In fact, I'm more likely to be distracted from what they're saying because I'm studying the TV person's appearance.

2:22 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

I have a 32 inch Samsung (phnarr!) and it's great. 46 inches of TV is just too BIG.

The best thing about HDTVs? You can plug your computer into them! Games look gr8.

4:30 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Kevin Marks said...

Neal Stephenson's Interface said that HDTV would change politics:
"All of the politicians currently in power will be voted out of office and we will have a completely new power structure. Because HDTV has a flat gamma curve and higher resolution, and people who look good on today's television will look bad on HDTV and voters will respond accordingly. Their oversized pores will be visible, the red veins in their noses from drinking too much, the artificiality of their TV-friendly hairdos will make them all look, on HDTV, like country-and western singers. A new generation of politicians will take over and they will all look like movie stars, because HDTV will be a great deal like film, and movie stars know how to look good on film."

4:33 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a student of the media the question Helen and several other readers seem to me to be asking is HDTV a distinct medium from ordinary TV. Only having seen HDTV in stores I certainly seems that it might be at first blush. It is like looing through the viewfinder of a good SLR. You can actually see the effect of the f-stop on depth of focus. I think McLuhan would say that it is a different medium because it is no longer the highly participatory mosaic that the brain has to assemble or supply detail to make sense of it. I'm not so sure and will wait until these large HD screens become commonplace. I think it may just be a temporary effect and that the shock of greater detail might wear off and in fact make the fakeness of the whole experience more obvious. What hasn't changed is the emotional manipulation. Interesting that one reader said they valued it for sports and nature shows, but not news.

5:55 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Melissa Clouthier said...

Robert Munoz,

Exactly what I was thinking! When we got a big flat-screen, we watched all our favorite movies (LOTR extended was our first, of course)again.

The news, not so much. In some ways, the grand size emphasizes the cartoonishness of TV news. Everyone looks like they are over-acting. I think TV people will have to learn the restraint that movie actors possess.

Also, because of the image perfection, the anchors, actors are more concerned about physical perfection which also heightens the cartoonish nature.

Maybe the news will eventually be done by an animated character and read by a voice actor. Why not? It's almost that plastic now.

What I'm not sure about is whether people will believe the news more. I think the messenger will get more and more important. Look at hotties like Anderson Cooper and Cambell Brown.

8:55 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same reason why a movie has more impact if you see it on the big screen than if you see it on TV. The effect is known as "hot medium" (big screen) vs "cool medium", and I believe it was first discussed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964.

9:47 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Something I had not thought of till now is that our youngers like their media smaller, not bigger. The whole ipod culture is about transportability. While some of that generation do have large tvs, they tend to play games on them. So maybe the big tv culture is primarily for us old farts.

Cause while I love my ipod for the car and work, I am a big stereo and records guy at home. I am even saving up for some tube amplifiers, which make me way retro I guess. Perhaps that is the contiuum, flat earthers who like tubes and moon kids who prefer to never touch their music and video purchases. If so, the next generation of voters will watch their podcasts on a less than 3 inch screen. Visions of talking headlettes.


11:08 AM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Eric Grey said...

I have a 55" HDTV so I can watch tv from the couch without my glasses on. It's definitely worth the extra cost. I bet quite a few people get one for the same reason.

12:30 PM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger Jim Hu said...

Since you don't seem to have trackbacks. Some thoughts on this, and a post from Ann Althouse, here.

12:45 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My patients, regardless of political party, often come in and parrot to me the news they hear on tv without question. You know, the Dems are great, the Republicans evil and such.

I find it quite unprofessional of so-called professionals to speak negatively about their clients/patients in open forums.

1:44 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had my first experience with large screen TV in the home when I had dinner with a famous songwriter way back in 1974. He had a projection TV (in his mansion) and we all sat there watching it and I was amazed, transfixed...a Wells Fargo commercial just blew me away. It all seemed so much more important. I became obsessed with having one of my own someday but didn't have the room or the money. By the time it became practical I realized I did not want TV to assume such proportion in my life. It's true: the bigger the TV screen, the more *important* its content seems.

I can only imaging how it affects people's political views nowadays...God, how depressing..

3:39 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question the validity of anyone who wants to lump conservatives and liberals into homogenous groups and make generalizations about anything other than their stated political beliefs. As someone who is a libertarian with a populist bent, I don't see my viewpoint represented anywhere in the "liberal media." Do you really think CNN, CBS, et al are truly liberal? The most liberal national viewpoing I see is when i read The Boondocks in the comics.

4:57 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course bigger is better - that is the fundamental component of the American gestalt. Even though you're a psychologist and your questions might be rhetorical, I'll take them at face value for the sake of references.

Americans like bigger cars, bigger houses and of course bigger bombs. We want our drinks in giant sizes since just the extra large isn't adequate. Bigger bank accounts are obviously quite desirable and bigger egos result from all this bigness. Look at our biggest states and the braggadocio that ensues.

Now as for "bigscreen news" being somehow more poignant (and arguably effective in brainwashing ability) I'd have to say "definitely yes" as opposed to a kind of wishy-washy "yeah, maybe".

However, when it comes to movies, the larger screen definitely makes a larger difference, and obviously for the vision-challenged it's not just a bragging game in essence.

I would also argue that the emotions of most TV enthusiasts are quite easy to sway. After many years of brainwashing, the news becomes a drug where the addict will do anything to get their fix. However, at a certain point, when the mind-conversion is complete, the larger screen has little or no additional effect, so we're back to the bragging game explanation.

The part about seeing blue everywhere I don't quite understand because that term means many things to many different people. The Blue Screen of Death means something slightly different than the States going Blue or feeling Blue or listening to the Blues.

There are two kinds of people: those who lump everyone into two categories and those who don't.

8:04 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when at home we had black-and-white TV and my grandparents got a big console color TV. That color TV probably cost them in real-dollar terms what a mid-range HDTV setup costs today. Grandma and Grandpa has color TV, yes, but it was more like colorized TV -- it took many years and some improvements in the circuits to get tolerable color rendition.

Another example is from Accidental Empires where Cringely talks about someone showing the lastest hi-res printed material from a desktop publishing setup and was going on about how great it was to a non-computer person from the printing biz who was singularly unimpressed.

Techno-geeks have this suspension of belief when they immerse themselves in their own technology. It is not that their elephant dances that well; it is that that elephant can dance at all.

I am quite unimpressed with HD. Instead of a uniform, squarish, smallish, somewhat soft-focus image, you get this big image with motion blur, bad camera lens work, and coder artifact.

Like talking to someone on a cell phone? I don't. I am in the speech signal processing biz, and I hear the data compression at work -- call me back on a land line! My image processing colleagues pat themselves on the back on how good the fruits of their labors look on HD -- I see naked emperor syndrome where engineers have looked at the same jagged images enough times and pronounce them good.

Have you really looked closely at HD television? Do you like what you see? Does it even remotely compare with theatre movie projection from film?

10:40 PM, November 13, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Anon 10:40 asked: "Have you really looked closely at HD television? Do you like what you see? Does it even remotely compare with theatre movie projection from film?"

Yes, I have BATV, 61 inch, and I look at it closely the nights when I watch it. I do indeed like what I see. Good programming is immersive, sports are much more exciting, and Lord of the Rings and Rear Window look great on it.

Does it even remotely compare to film? No. Not even close. I am an old photographer who loves Kodachrome, and my tv does not approach the nuance and shadow detail of well presented film.

Not that I have seen many movies presented well lately. First, getting out with my wife is complicated. Second, the last three times we went to see a film in a theatre it was poorly focused, scratched, and the theatre was noisy. Don't get me started on the popcorn.

At my house, the video is always focused, the picture is impecable (thanks to the Avia set up disk) and the sound is wonderful. It costs very little to see wonderful movies (thank you NetFlix)and great films that I really like, things like The Seven Samurai, Apocalypse Now, Brazil, and others, are always playing.

So in the final analysis, it is not a difficult decision.


11:38 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If there is no left bias on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the BBC then how do you explain that FoxNews is beating records in numbers of people watching?

If other tv stations are not bashing the right constantly, then why are about 3 times more people watching FoxNews than CNN?

What do people find at FoxNews that is not available at other news sources?

If your store sells the product you want and need, then why would you drive all the way to the next store to buy it?

There is a reason why people watch FoxNews.
Or more to the point, there is a reason why people have stopped watching ABC, CNN & all...

But there will never be a TV image clear enough, there will never be a high difinition TV with high enough definition to make liberals see the left bias of TV news.

And if some of them ever see it, then they'll lie about it.

11:23 AM, November 14, 2006  
Blogger TMink said...

Extreme right wing bias? Not even close. For extreme right wing bias you need to go listen to Michael Savage. That will reorient your compass so that you recognize Fox as mildly right of center.


2:34 PM, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who see FoxNews as extreme right are so far to the left that anything to their right seems extreme to them.

Kind of like a muslim radical when he sees a woman's elbow or a woman's shoulder; to him a woman showing "so much skin" is extreme.

What is reasonable seems extreme to those who live at one extreme...

FOxNews is no more to the extreme right than a woman is extreme in showing her elbow or shoulder.

If anything is extreme it is leftist's reaction to FoxNews, or to anything mildly to the right for that matter.

5:01 PM, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never was much of a Fox watcher, but after the O.J. thing they can kiss my big media-saturated hemispheres.

5:34 PM, November 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

視訊做愛視訊美女無碼A片情色影劇kyo成人動漫tt1069同志交友網ut同志交友網微風成人論壇6k聊天室日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞UT視訊美女交友..........................

10:48 PM, May 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:57 PM, June 07, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home