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My Graduation Speech by Neil Postman, chair of the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University, describes two kinds of people, whom he compares with Athenians and Visigoths.

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Arunee Kasemphaibulsuk Ms Goldspink ENG4U-02 November 9, 2005 The Dominance of Visigoths My Graduation Speech by Neil Postman, chair of the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University, describes two kinds of people, whom he compares with Athenians and Visigoths. The Athenians, who lived in Greece about 2,500 years ago, contributed many positive ideas still valued in the present. They believed in reason, beauty, moderation, and excellence. Postman also wrote about negative values, which belonged to the Visigoths in Germany about 1700 years ago. Visigoths did everything for their own benefits, lived only for overcoming others' culture and ideas; they were crude, brutal, destructive, and greedy. Since Postman wrote this speech, it appears that Visigoth values have become an even more dominant and powerful influence, as seen clearly from three media: the television program Extreme Makeover provides an example of the obsession with popularity and money; the movie Mr. ...read more.


Smith, the story follows a couple of assassins who do not know each other's secret career, and finally are hired to kill each other. The fighting, the violence, the cruelty are all Visigoth characteristics. Even though they are married, they lack the Athenian qualities of respect, consideration, and compromise between the two of them. For example, during a fight, Mr. Smith says "Come to Daddy." Mrs. Smith responds by beating him to the floor and says "Who's your Daddy now?" Mr. and Mrs. Smith always direct sarcastic remarks at each other. The characters in the movie, like the Visigoths, use rude, insulting language. Also, because Mrs. Smith says, "Oh, come on. It was just a little bomb," she shows her own Visigoth idea that using force is very trivial. This movie imprints the bad Visigoth idea of force, opposed to the good Athenian value of persuasion, onto the audience's minds. The concentration on the advertising of this movie in North American society and its success in the market show that people accept Visigoth ideas. ...read more.


From the evidence in two articles in The Globe and Mail, people in positions of power have self-centered, materialistic ideas as Visigoths did. They desired a luxurious life-style gained by no effort or wasted a million dollars without considering the Athenian ideas such as the sense of moderation, compromise, and dedication. The crude, selfish, and self-centered behaviour of Visigoths, which competes with the respect for beauty, reason, and moderation of the Athenians, is predominant in our civilization: the obsession with money from the Extreme Makeover television program, the violence in relationships in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and the self-interest of humanity in the Globe and Mail newspaper articles. According to Postman, the numbers of people who see the world in the Visigoth way appear greater than the numbers of people who think like Athenians, because the majority of people do things for money, lack the sense of community, are not temperate, reject tradition, use rude language, and learn to manipulate other people for their own power. The only hope for society, according to Postman, is that among university graduates "the Athenians mightily outnumbered the Visigoths" (Postman). ...read more.

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