The speech that Beatty delivers to Montag, written by Bradbury in 1953, has many elements that still resonate with today's world. He talks about the condensation of entertainment and media into shorter and shorter forms.
Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests, Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending .... Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume.
This accurately predicts the trajectory we have seen with media in the past century, especially in the last twenty years. Attention spans are on average shorter, increased with the advent of apps like Snapchat, Vine, and Tiktok, which only allow for incredibly short video content, or apps like Twitter with restrictive word counts for written content. Entertainment is condensed to be consumed as quickly as possible.
This relates to not just creative media, like books or television, but to news, too.
Digests-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!
We are facing this in our current trends in journalism and news broadcasting. News has been leaning in recent years towards "click-bait" headlines and condensed articles. The goal has become entertaining the masses rather than reporting the facts of a situation, to the point that many people do not know which news services are reliable. Many people, especially with more access to newer technologies, consume news from Instagram graphics shared in short bursts on their friends' stories or Twitter headlines, not from full articles in newspapers or online periodicals.
Beatty also speaks to the development of political correctness. He says that as a population grows, so do the number of minorities who will potentially be offended by any given piece of media.
The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!
Certain elements of this ring true. As we have developed a better understanding of the insensitivity and inequality that exists in our society, in relation to race, gender identity, sexuality, and physical ability, we have become more aware of how media can reinforce or upend established social privileges. This sometimes can be referred to as "cancel culture." Some people believe that this has created a wave of censorship, driven by the people, just as Beatty described. The way reality diverges from Beatty's story is that our awareness of minorities and their relationship to media has allowed for a greater diversity in storytelling rather than reducing media to "a nice blend of vanilla tapioca," as Beatty says.