In Brief

Happy Birthday, Marshall McLuhan

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Marshall McLuhan (right) in Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’ (still via YouTube)

Today would have been Marshall McLuhans 103rd birthday. The pop theorist, who died in 1980 at age 69, was the author of key fulminations on modern communication that were enormously influential in the 1960s and ’70s.

Some argue that his work presaged the effects of today’s World Wide Web. Others, like the critic Robert Hughes, questioned McLuhanite thought’s grasp on reality, with its sweeping claims about the usurpation of meaning. But whether or not his theories on the intersection of technology and culture remain correct or useful is almost beside the point — like Andy Warhol, his approach crystallized an epoch. And, also like Warhol, there was a time when everybody seemed to have an opinion about him, as immortalized in this scene from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, where a blowhard gets shot down, in a doubly McLuhanite fourth-wall intervention, by Mr. McLuhan himself:

h/t Jason Diamond

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