Maggie Cutler creates a very thoughtful piece that does acknowledge that today’s media is violent in some ways, but can we fully blame the media for the destructive mannerisms that have developed? With any study of effects, there are so many factors that come into play. One cannot fully blame the media for what they see in their children. Cutler mentions the different studies that have taken place to analyze the effects of media and try t prove that the media is the cause. Cutler was able to point out certain details that show that the conclusions are not fully valid. Cutler states, “Although the Stanford study- perhaps to stay popular with granters- is being promoted as a study on media violence, it is really a study of media overuse, self-awareness, and the rewards of self-discipline. Its clearest finding wasn’t that media violence is always harmful but that too much mediated experience seems to impair children’s ability to interact well with other people” (688). Another factor that could be included are the economic background, situations, etc. of the child. A person with greater means does not have to worry about going into danger for fast money, or wealth. “Nevertheless, his ecology model of how juvenile violence emerges from complex, interacting factors means that hyper-aggressive, “asset poor” kids are likely to be harmed by graphic depictions of violence, while balanced, “asset rich” kids are likely to remains unscathed” (Cutler 687). Another factor that could be included is the exposure that the kids have to violence. In general, the environment can play a big part in a child’s life. When children show an aggressive emotion, they could be, “express[ing] feelings they already have, or are they in it for the adrenaline” (Cutler 686). In summation, children are able to know what the difference of real and unreal is. They know when a show makes a joke or not. “Even media seen or understood as real – news, documentaries, interviews – will have more impact than that which a kid knows is make- believe” (Cutler 689).
In the beginning of the passage, Goldwasser states the negative views of teenagers today. Teens are considered to be ignorant of academics and the world around us. This original thought mentioned in the passage makes it seem that the author of this passage condemned today’s generation. However, Goldwassser takes on a completely different, unexpected, opposing argument. The Common Core released a survey, over a landline phone that “proved” the lack of knowledge today’s generations has. Goldwasser emphasizes that the survey was done over a landline phone. This shows that this survey was biasedly completed through a medium that is not known to reach where most teenagers are: the internet or even to a cell phone number. Goldwassser then turns the table on the critical people and question their views and actions. She states, “The Internet, according to 88-year-old Lessing has “seduced a whole generation into its inanities”. Or is it the older generation that the Internet has seduced into the inanities of leveling charges based on fear, ignorance and old-media, multiple-choice testing?” (Goldwasser) She shows that the Internet is just a new form of medium in which people still communicate, interact, and network; it is the same where people talk to each other, write to each other, and people mate. She feels that the criticism comes out of fear of the amount of knowledge that young people have access to, items that we have created, and ideas imagined. Goldwasser believes that instead of criticizing a new form of learning and communication, people should embrace it, assist and encourage increase in knowledge through this technology. She finalizes her argument by saying, “One of them, 70 years from now, might even get up there to accept the very award Lessing did– and thank the Internet for making him or her a writer and a thinker” (Goldwasser).
In This Reading, Two Prevalent Themes Are:
Complexity of shows increases attention and cognition/ Most TV shows makes us smarter:
CASEY: The Sleeper Curve is how we have to exercise our brains while following a complex TV show. We have to follow the characters, plot, figure out what’s happening in all the twists, and wonder what is going to happen when they leave you hanging… They say watching TV is being lazy laying around, but it really is an exercise for your brain if your watching the right shows.
EMILY: Johnson is not saying that all television makes people smarter, but how one interacts with the show and how the narrative of the television show is structured, requires more cognitive attention. “To keep up with entertainment like 24, you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships.
JORGE: “The culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.” I agree with this statement because it’s pretty obvious that shows have gotten a lot more varied and challenging to follow.
MATTIE: But in reality “the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less” (278). Johnson explains how no matter how insignificant the TV show is, or no matter if it sends a bad message, the audience is ultimately getting smarter from watching it. The viewer needs to be cognitively aware out what is going on in the show and be able to understand any clues or plot twists.
SARA MACALUSO: Even reality shows, that may not be considered intellectually stimulating, can trigger parts of the brain, such as emotional connections, to be used.
TAYLOR: Steve Johnson talks about how even if the TV shows have a bad influence on people, it is educational for most. It somewhat makes you smarter. It makes you remember things that are going on in the show, which makes your brain think and it makes it stronger by having to memorize stuff.
TYLER: But, all kinds of shows can have a positive effect on someone’s way of life. Whether it be their personal mindset, social skills etc… Johnson thinks that people can learn from television and in my personal opinion I agree with him. “Television alters the mental development of young people for the better.”
Shows along with cognition have improved over the decades:
ANDREW: Johnson goes on to compare reality television over the decades. He takes a look at earlier shows like The Love Boat and The Newlywed Game and compares them with newer shows like The Apprentice and Survivor. He explains how the earlier reality TV is more structured, and how the rules are mapped out beforehand, therefore requiring less focus to pay attention. ..By this video game structural method, shows like Survivor and The Apprentice keep the audience more engaged and develop more critical thinking.
ANNA: Johnson shows the comparison between complex shows from years ago to complex shows from today, through multi-threads. Johnson states that, “Audiences happily embrace that complexity because they have been trained by two decades of multi-threaded dramas” (Johnson 284). Years ago, Hill Street was considered too complex to understand for its viewers. Now, the Sopranos uses the same multi-thread technique and this show is celebrated and enjoyed by viewers today. This shows that intelligence has increased along with the use of complex shows that make us think critically.
FELICIA: Throughout the essay he gives example of shows from the 50′s to one from 1981 and others from the most recent time pointing out their plots and how they affect the viewers. He explains that a show from the 70′s like Starksy and Hutch has a very simple plot structure that doesn’t allow the viewer to further think about the story because there isn’t much to think about, it’s too simple. The story is so simple it’s almost mind numbing. On the other hand a show like Hill Street Blues from the 80′s had so many twists and turns to the plot that you had to interact by using your mind.
RYAN: Johnson presents a lengthy argument proving that television has grown in the past few decades. While it used to be simple and easy to follow, it now has become much more complicated to understand. Johnson takes specific examples from TV shows to further his points, which seem to work particularly well. For example, Johnson examines a scene from ER, in which a patient in critical condition is being evaluated. Most of the dialogue is too complex for an average audience member to understand, however when the audience focuses hard enough, they can understand what is happening.
SHANNON: The writers have also eliminated any extra “fluff”, incorporated social issues and politics. He also believe that “if narrative threads have experienced a population explosion over the past 20 years, flashing arrows have grown correspondingly scarce. (286). Television stories are no longer as simple as they used to be, you can rarely accurately predict the outcome to even the most far-fetched dramas. Johnson genuinely believes that the television that people claim to be so bad for your brain is actually stimulating and brain-nourishing.
1) Do you think that television has had a more positive or more negative influence today than 15 years ago?
2) Can you think of any other shows/series today that are an example of the beneficial shows Johnson mentions?
This persuasive essay by Steven Johnson defies what current culture and tradition teaches us: Television is bad; avoid watching shows. It is known that television was created to “dumb us down” and “control us”, making us heavily dependent on this form of technology. However, in Johnson’s perspective, television nowadays increases intellect and exercises cognition, therefore making us more intelligent. While we are watching shows, along with the drama, we learn to think critically and analyze environments and situations. Johnson is not stating that ALL television shows are beneficial, as there are some forms of entertainment that are too explicit in many ways. Besides these types of shows, other shows, such as the finished series of 24, that “you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships” (Johnson 279). It is like your brain is acting out what you think would happen, along with the action occurring on the show. The benefit of these shows does not come from learning and following the characters’ actions, it comes from thinking and questioning situations. Johnson shows the comparison between complex shows from years ago to complex shows from today, through multi-threads. Johnson states that, “Audiences happily embrace that complexity because they have been trained by two decades of multi-threaded dramas” (Johnson 284). Years ago, Hill Street was considered too complex to understand for its viewers. Now, The Sopranos uses the same multi-thread technique and this show is celebrated and enjoyed by viewers today. This shows that intelligence has increased along with the use of complex shows that make us think critically. Johnson does not want his readers to believe that he thinks parents should stop monitoring what their children should watch. Instead he states, “What I am arguing for is a change in the criteria we use to determine what really is cognitive junk food and what is generally nourishing” (Johnson 293).
This fictional passage defines the meaning of “living in the moment”. Wolff uses a young, controlling, conservative boy to contrast with his bold and seemingly fearless father. The son, “was a boy who kept his clothes on numbered hangers to insure proper rotation. [He] bothered [his] teachers for homework assignments far ahead of their due dates so [he] could draw up schedules” (Wolff). His father on the other hand snuck his son into a bar to see Thelonius Monk, without his wife’s permission. The narrator speaks of one specific event with much detail to show how the event has completely changed his mindset. His parents were going to split up, no matter how hard his father tried to keep him safe. This affected the son, which probably showed through his obsessive and controlling habits. However, he looked up to his father as a model of enjoying life to the fullest. His father was rebellious in many ways, such as taking a minor to a bar, or entering a forbidden zone blocked by officers during a snow storm. However, his father was a good model of protection towards his son. Even though he entered a police-blocked path, he warned his son not to follow his actions. He only did that to keep the promise he made to his mother. This gave the narrator a new outlook on life. He finally relaxed and let go of his worries, by trusting his father while he was driving. He ends with a quote to show his new perspective, “Except maybe to say this: if you haven’t driven on fresh powder, you haven’t driven” (Wolff).
Grief by Joan Didion is a unique piece that causes one to deeply think about death and loss. She lets us view the difference between reality, what we expect to happen to us emotionally and what we occurs after a loss. She states, “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it” (929). She uses many metaphors to emphasize how death and loss can rarely be expected. Based on how she describes grief, and the events surrounding it, one can tell that she has greatly struggled with the experience of grief herself. After reading, I realized that she lost her husband. Throughout the passage, she compares the loss and grief of someone to geology. One day, the landscape would be here, and the next day it can be easily taken away, just as her old house was. One very important quote in her text was, “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, which I interpreted as a literal description of the constant changing of the earth, the unending erosion of the shores and mountains, the inexorable shifting of the geological structures that could throw up mountains and islands and could just as reliably take them away” (930). This was something she believed would always happen and not be anticipated, nor could it be prevented. Because of this mindset, she struggled to find great meaning in her life.