How American Television Acts as a Medium that Limits Freedom of Choice and Expression

Understanding the Concepts in "Amusing Ourselves to Death"

Understanding the concepts in a book, newspaper, novel, or anything else you read is essential if you want to fully appreciate the author's overall message across the entire book. At some point, the reader may lose sight of the entire notion offered in the book if they miss even one detail or idea in a chapter. Intriguing and captivating, Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" presents a variety of unique characteristics, concepts, and ideas that the readers will find thought-provoking, significant, and difficult. This paper will provide a comprehensive explanation regarding the fact that "television restrains freedom of choice and expression in the United States of American society" as one of the concepts in Postman's book, especially chapter six and eleven, which can be expounded for a better understanding of the book.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Freedom of Expression

Universal Declaration on Human Rights states, regarding freedom of expression, that every individual is entitled to freedom of expression and opinion. Therefore, the declaration also entails the right to embrace views without challenge and pursue, obtain and impart ideas, information and thoughts via any media and irrespective of limits (Reichert 35). According to Postman's book media, for example, television limits the above named Universal Declaration on Human Rights regarding the freedom of expression in the United States of America. It also evident that according to the book, television limits freedom of choice in the American society.

The Concept of Freedom of Choice and Expression

Freedom of choice entails one's autonomy and opportunity to act without interference from external parties (Emran, Shahe, Fenohasina, & Stephen 481). This concept is not a simple one to comprehend unless it is well explained. How can television restrain one from freedom of choice and expression? This is a vital question that one needs to ask to comprehend such an insightful idea. Expression can take different forms, for examples, firstly, political expression, secondly, artistic expression, thirdly, commercial expression, especially when it highlights matters of genuine public concern and debate. There is a way that television limits the freedom of political expression, artistic expression and commercial expression as portrayed by Postman in "Amusing Ourselves to Death."

Restrictions on Freedom of Choice and Expression through American Television

American television does not allow the viewers to proactively exercise control over their thoughts as well as feelings. Hence, American television restrains the freedom of choice and expression. Postman states in "Amusing Ourselves to Death" that the programs aired on American televisions are in high demand because viewers love them but not as a result of the love the viewers have for America (Postman 86). It, therefore, implies that one could approve those performances presented in the programs on the American television because that is what the television program aims to achieve. However, the same programs on the American television deny one the opportunity to choose to think, feel and create a reflection. Therefore, American television reduces freedom of choice by limiting the viewers to subject matter portrayed as entertainment which everyone would love anyway, resulting in love for television.

The Impact of American Television on Freedom of Expression

The author states that newscasters do not worry about working towards delivering the demands that are attached to their discipline. However, they work towards achieving the goals of great showmanship (Postman 98). Thus, the freedom of choosing between committing to their discipline and showmanship of those newscasters is greatly limited by the American television. The phenomenon occurs because American television works towards making huge profits in show business.

Restrictions on Freedom of Expression in American Television

American television restrains freedom of expression. Firstly, American television restrains freedom of political expression. Postman argues in "Amusing Ourselves to Death" that American television presents serious public discussions as a type of baby-talk by making sure that the American people become just viewers and their common business an entertainment act. Consequently, this action depicted on American television limits freedom of political expression because those public conversations turn into mere entertainment acts and a particular way of baby-talk (Postman 155).

The politicians cannot express themselves politically to make their political message crystal clear to the viewers on television because their public conversations are reduced to entertainment acts by the American television (Postman 156). Furthermore, American television limits freedom of artistic expression. The author argues that American television defines cultural life as a continuous series of entertainments (Postman 156). Aspects of cultural life are normally expressed artistically. Since American television's industry is show business, it will reduce any artistic expression by an artist in American society to a continuous series of entertainment to make profits at the end of the day. The author also adds that American television is unfriendly to culture and it is never neutral (postman 157). It is evident from the above statement by the author that American television limits freedom of artistic expression.


All in all, Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is an interesting piece with different insightful elements that can only be understood by critically examining those concepts. American television should allow the viewers to proactively exercise control over their thoughts as well as feelings. Newscasters should work towards delivering the demands that are attached to their discipline.

Works Cited

Emran, M. Shahe, Fenohasina Maret-Rakotondrazaka, and Stephen C. Smith. “Education and freedom of choice: Evidence from arranged marriages in Vietnam.” Journal of Development Studies 50.4 (2014): 481-501.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin-Viking, 1985.

Reichert, Elisabeth. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights-Only a Foundation.” Journal of Intergroup Relations 29.1 (2002): 34-49.

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