American Notebook: The Mike in the Bosom

American Notebook: The Mike in the Bosom

The television show Person to Person employs a technician whose job is to hide a small microphone in the bosoms of women who appear on the show so that the women may be heard without the apparatus being visible to the audience. This tactful technician—he is said to do his job with courtesy and discretion—is, I would suggest, symbolic of the main drift of contemporary society. In the dim world of mass culture he stands out as a startlingly clear figure.

Consider Person to Person as we see it after the tactful technician has done his work. With Edward R. Murrow we look at a picture of one of the homes we are going to “drop in on” that night. Then, as Mr. Murrow turns to our “host,” the exterior of the home disappears and we plunge inside. After a few minutes of conversation in which we are introduced to the host, his family and pets—the inevitable whimsy—we are taken on a tour of the home. Along with Mr. Murrow, the ubiquitous camera, and the hidden mike we poke and pry at nearly everything that is exposed to us—television doth make voyeurs of us all.

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Lima