Two generations of Americans—including American artists—have now grown up in front of the TV set, their consciousness permeated by its shuttle of bright images, their attention span shrunken by its manipulative speed, their idea of success dictated by its collapse of fame into celebrity, their anxiety level (at least among the smarter ones, again including artists) raised by its sheer pervasive power.
The power of television goes beyond anything the fine arts have ever wanted or achieved. Nothing like this Niagara of visual gabble had even been imagined a hundred years ago. American network television drains the world of meaning; it makes reality seem dull, slow and avoidable. It is our “floating world.” It tends to abort the imagination by leaving kids nothing to imagine: every hero and demon is there, raucously explicit, precut—a world of stereotypes, too authoritative for imagination to develop or change.
— “The Decline of the City of Mahagonny”