Slaying the Gorgon

The Rise of the Storytelling Industrial Complex

Slaying the Gorgon, The Rise of the Storytelling Industrial Complex
Joe McHugh

Author Joe McHugh


Slaying the Gorgon can be designed to be a sixty or ninety minute multimedia keynote presentation followed by Q & A. 

Since the dawn of time, people have told stories to entertain, inform, and pass on cultural values. They have also used stories to persuade. In today’s fast-paced world, corporations use stories to sell products and gain a competitive advantage. Political parties use stories to elect candidates and garner support for controversial policies. Military leaders use stories to inspire courage and foster unit cohesion. Social activists, educators, environmentalists, economists, religious leaders, and a host of others use stories to promote their views and agendas.

Slaying the Gorgon is a fascinating and provocative multimedia presentation by storyteller, writer, and public radio journalist Joe McHugh that looks at how stories are told in the modern age given the dynamic and transforming influence of new technologies. From the venerated saints and cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the pop stars and cineplexes of today, he explains why images and sound are increasingly supplanting the authority of the printed word and, by so doing, radically altering the cultural, economic, and political landscape in the United States and around the world.

What does the ancient myth of Perseus and Medusa teach us about the nature of storytelling and its power to influence our beliefs and behaviors? Why do political candidates need the blessing of film and television stars/saints to get elected? Does the spread of electronic media cause societies to become more tribalized? How does today’s industrialized storytelling overstimulate and exhaust the imagination and what can we do about it? These are some of the questions McHugh explores using a combination of common sense language, intriguing images, and humor. His goal is to provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion about these vitally important issues of the day.

Audio Excerpts

1. Joe reads the introduction to his book, Slaying the Gorgon.

2. A lively discussion with host Frank Stasio from WUNC in Chapel Hill, NC

Public Radio WUNC Interview

The State of Things hosted by Frank Stasio

“Joe captivated the audience as he spoke about the importance of story and its changing role in our lives. He set the perfect tone for the entire day with his expertly crafted hour-long presentation. In addition to being a talented speaker with a stimulating message that challenges listeners to “think outside the box” and stretch their vision of stories, Joe was a pleasure to work with.”

~Nancy Schutz, Training and Staff Development Specialist, Timberland Regional Library

“Mr. McHugh came to Metropolitan Omaha to give a presentation on youth and the media that generated important dialog as to how we could continue our efforts on behalf of youth and their families. Mr. McHugh is extraordinarily well-versed, articulate, entertaining, and a pleasure to be around. He has the unique ability of communicating with anyone and is one of the most gifted presenters I have ever known.”

~Lawrence D. Gendler, Judge, Sarpy County Juvenile Court, Nebraska

“To be charged with delivering an address that generates concern, and inspires action on the part of participants is one not easily met. Mr. McHugh definitely hit the mark! His genuine, captivating style incorporated his knowledge of history and culture with thoughtful information about the media’s influence on youth and contemporary beliefs and behaviors. He brings a unique perspective.”

~Vivian Linfor - Safe Schools and Violence Protection Office, a joint project of the California Department of Education and the California Attorney General's Office.