"Today it is the instant speed of electric information that, for the first time, permits easy recognition of the patterns and the formal contours of change and development" (McLuhan 1964 352).
Duration: 45 minutes
"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media with which people communicate than by the content of the communication." - Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan, one of Canada's most influential and controversial figures, burst into the centre of media circles in North America with his strange and prophetic pronouncements - "electric light is pure information" - on advertising, television and the emerging computer age.
Known for his imaginative descriptions of the media environment, McLuhan coined the phrases 'the medium is the message' and 'the global village.' These two aphorisms still linger on the tongues of critics, philosophers and pop-culture makers as McLuhan's predictions and revelations continue to be proven true over and over again.
Initially celebrated, later doubted and recently resurrected, McLuhan has stood the test of time as one of the truly innovative minds of this century. Some of his statements are as fresh today as they must have been when he first appeared on North American televisions in the 1960s. "Where advertising is heading is quite simply into a world where the ad will become a substitute for the product," said McLuhan.
With the help of family, friends, and theorists, McLuhan is revealed. Deeply conservative, reserved, difficult, uncomfortable with the fame he sought, this very private man remained an enigma for most of his life. The documentary charts the course of McLuhan's life and work, his successes and failures, paying careful attention to the central principle of his work - the medium. Out Of Orbit also pays tribute to McLuhan, his message, and the way in which his theories and words have penetrated and influenced the consciousness of today's media literate society.
Original Air Date - November 30, 1999