McLuhan Studies : Issue 5

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Huang Shenyu




—A brief study—


Huang Shenyu

Harbin Institute of Technology

As Marshall McLuhan said, "All media work us over completely. They are so persuasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered." Besides the Han nationality, there are fifty-five nationalities in China which are called "minority nationalities." Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, these minority nationalities, which were in different social systems, developed quite unevenly. However, with the development of communication media such as the post, new roads and railways, and the telecommunication net, all the minority nationalities have had to speed up their own social progress. They can no longer close all their doors and windows on modern society.

The modern media that have been developing so rapidly elsewhere in the world necessarily interact with the old distinctive media in every minority nationality society. The medium is the message. The language, the clothing, the forms of literature and art in every minority nationality society, as its old distinctive media, have become the content of such modern media as movies, television, radio and the photograph. Language as the primary technology of human extension impaired and diminished the values of the collective unconscious. Each mother tongue teaches its users a unique way of seeing and feeling the world, and of acting in the world. For example, the languages of Chaoxian, Manzu, Mongol, Zhuangzu and Zangzu, which not only have their own characteristics but also are influenced by the Chinese language, have been introduced and studied by means of modern media. Clothing, an extension of the skin, is nevertheless a nonverbal manifestation of this or that particular mode of society. Therefore, the national forms of dress, in different styles and made from different kinds of material, have been widely used by film and TV directors. In this way, they have become common content of movie and television. In addition, various old distinctive forms of literature and art from every minority-nationality society have also influenced by the new electric technology that extends our senses and nerves in a global embrace. Some spoken and written literary works have become the content of modern media such as writing, radio and television, thus being given a new life.

Human beings are now living in remarkable times: the world is shrinking. The world has been transformed into the global village, which is the consequence of the mass media's ability to bring events from the far reaches of the globe into people's homes, as forecast by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s. The author's research findings have proved that Chinese minority nationalities have their own histories, but they have all almost succumbed to the electric age over the past fifty years. In this process, examining the interplay of new media and old media is valuable for media research.



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