Author: Brett Robinson

The Vast Re-Education Program of the Superbowl Ads

The zeitgeist of any new year can often be distilled by observing the snapshots of commodity culture that Super Bowl ads provide. A cursory survey of this year’s Super Bowl ad lineup includes the usual suspects. We like movies. We like cars. We like movies about cars. We like feeling safe. We like movies about not feeling safe. We like beer. Minus the corn syrup. This read is not wholly inaccurate but it is superficial. It assumes that the content of the ads is merely projecting our cultural interests and desires right back at us. But that is never the whole story. As Marshall McLuhan liked to put it, the content of any medium is the juicy piece of meat that the burglar offers the guard dog before ransacking the house. What are we missing by focusing on the products and gags that the advertisers serve up? We are missing something profound about the medium itself. Or in the case of the late television era, we are missing something profound about the tectonic shift from …

Review: “Connected Toward Communion” by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome

New media technology has connected us to astounding stores of information. The same technology has also been blamed for isolating those who develop unhealthy digital dependencies. New technology always giveth and taketh away. It begs the question, to what end are our technological developments aimed? If they are neither all good nor all bad, then cultivating a culture of communication that promotes the common good while avoiding the pitfalls of technological decadence is worth contemplating. In her book, Connected Toward Communion: The Church and Social Communication in the Digital Age, Daniella Zsupan-Jerome offers a fitting response to the telos of technology question. Her lodestar is the collection of Church documents that have addressed the challenges and opportunities of mediated communication. From the Second Vatican Council’s Inter Mirifica to recent World Communications Day addresses, Zsupan-Jerome traces the Church’s thinking on the highly malleable subject of social communications. Much of the popular rhetoric surrounding new media relies on the language of connection for envisioning what this transformation means. Wired magazine, the magisterial guide for all things high …