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Moses Znaimer’s 10 Commandments of Television

If you’re read my post about Mary Hutchinson’s “10 Random Thoughts” about Christian media, I found these from Canadian media mogul Moses Znaimer. He’s a founder of CityTV in Toronto, an experimental TV station that I’ve been a fan of for many years. In many ways Moses invented reality TV, and today he owns a museum where he indulges his collection of rare, vintage TV’s. For all your media thinkers out there, here’s his list. It’s taught in media programs throughout Canada. It’s unusual, and I’d be curious about your thoughts:

1. Television is the triumph of the image over the printed word.

2. Print created illiteracy. Television is democratic, everybody gets it.

3. The true nature of television is flow, not show. Process, not conclusion.

4. As worldwide television expands, the demand for local programming increases.

5. The best TV tells me what happened to me, today.

6. TV is as much about the people bringing you the story as the story itself.

7. In the past, TV’s chief operating skill was political. In the future it will be – it will have to be, mastery of the craft itself.

8. TV creates immediate consensus, subject to immediate change.

9. There never was a mass audience, except by compulsion.

10. Television is not a problem to be managed, but an instrument to be played.

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6 Comments

  1. Moses' ten thoughts on media are profound yet so simple. Television today is both a conveyor of truth (whatever "truth" the writers and producers want to convey) and the greatest pulpit for today's generation. It is what those who won't go to church listen to, process, and swallow as truth and as a standard for their lives. The messages in film and TV teaches them (us, if we let it without comparing it to God's Word) what is normal and right. For example, most loved romantic comedies of our day portray premarital sex as not only acceptable, but romantic. A true expression of desire and love. Ask any teenager who hasn't learned of their value in Christ, and they will see sex as normal and a measure of their worth/desirability. On another note, I'm not sure if television created illiteracy; I think poverty and political corruption probably played a role. But, oh, the power of film in those third world countries where many can't read but can still learn through a visual portrayal of the written word! So, the problem for those who know Jesus isn't how do we avoid media that is saturated with untruth. Just as Jesus' problem wasn't how do we avoid the pagans who worship other gods or prostitutes who have extramarital sex. But what we must concern ourselves with is how to earn the right to be with these people, exposing the lies that they have believed in order to replace it with the good news of Gods character and love. It's not to run from TV that accurately displays the corruption of the minds of our culture, but to penetrate the industry so that we can begin "preaching" the good news through a medium they will listen to and can trust.

  2. I must admit, while I found some interesting meat in Mr. Znaimer’s list, like "There never was a mass audience, except by compulsion." I also found some of the silly old prejudices that I think hold the media back. Take his first commandment. I don't understand why so many broadcast people position the current media environment as a battle between print and electronic. Saying "Television is the triumph of the image over the printed word," is a little like having a full meal at Joe's in Miami, then sitting back and proclaiming that was clearly a triumph of the key lime pie over the crab meat. It isn't about the media, its about the ideas. The ideas are important, not the media through which they are presented. "Blind Date" is a stupid idea in any media. It will be a stupid idea a thousand years from now, in whatever type of thought teleportation media is available at that time. Print didn't create illiteracy. Laziness and stupidity created illiteracy. In a post-apocalyptic world there will be cockroaches, radiation deformed road gangs and books. We'll see how Mr. Znaimer's vintage TVs work then. 

  3. I love the democratic nature of his comments and the medium.

    The audience has always had much more power in television 
    than we perceive.   In fact, i think we prefer to think of it as
    doing things to us, rather than for us. But we are undoubtedly
    the primary marketing force, changing
    it with our fickle and elusive tastes.  
    I also dig how he flips conventional wisdom on its head.
    Surely, we need to recover a bit of Jesus' ability to
    upend expectations–"You have heard it said, but i say…."
    We need more holy creativity.
  4. Here are my ten reflections (inspired after reading Moses Znaimer)

    1. Film is a disciplined approach where a director makes an objective
    statement and it is visualized and interpreted subjectively by the masses.

    2. Thus film has the power to influence people as they see things from
    different perspectives.

    3. Film must not be seen as an overcrowded landscape of ideas, because in
    reality there is so much more that has not yet been explored in the land
    of discovery.

    4. A director who makes a film without digging deep in the maniacal
    forest of ideas is nothing more than a photocopy machine.

    5. A photocopy machine is useful but not very creative.

    6. Film can transcend its own modernity by shaping discourse and ideology.

    7. The best pre-evangelism in film is to engage in dialogue.

    8. Dialogue causes me to proclaim the triumph of the will over the
    decomposition of the soul.

    9. When dialogue creates a community of thinkers, you have the seeds for
    social change.

    10. Alas, after watching a film I am moved to seek out a community, as if
    a spark were lit for a brief moment in time, so I can go out and change
    the world– but too often that spark dies out before reconstruction begins.

    Michael Gonzales, Ph.D.
    Professor of Mass Communication
    Biola University

  5. A community is a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

    =======================================

    Melvin

    Social Bookmarking

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