Music is Our Special Friend—1971 With a Bullet

Marvin Gaye, 1971. Image credit unknown.

In 1967 media critic Marshall McLuhan collaborated with illustrator Quentin Fiore on an eye-catching little book titled The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. The book was an alternative and provocative means to express the idea first expressed by McLuhan in a 1964 book that it is the technologies of presentation that are the messages of modern media, not the content. This idea is still debated and one imagines there are as many arguments for McLuhan’s possibility as there are against it. From the three network television of the 1960s and 1970s to the social media madness of 2021, much has changed in the world of communications, yet its essence as a vehicle for control continues to be understood by those in power. Conversely, its potential as a vehicle for subversion is also understood.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at:

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