Everything Bad Is Good for You (Essay)

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The Innovation of Educational Tools Playing video games and watching TV shows are beneficial types of popular culture. Conventional wisdom would argue that new media is a bad influence and that the only way to be intelligent is by reading. In the book Everything Bad is Good For You, author Steven Johnson, argues that even though our popular culture seems to get dumber, it is actually getting smarter. Johnson proves his arguments by comparing and explaining the benefits of the complexity of modern video games, television shows, and movies that require active participation and critical thinking in order for players and viewers to understand what is going on. Modern popular culture requires a lot of mental work, active engagement and…show more content…
Like video games, popular culture is cognitively enhancing its audience through modern TV shows. Johnson demonstrates this by comparing early TV shows to the modern ones. Johnson describes a scene of an early TV show where a girl left the door open: “As the door shuts behind her, the camera swoops in on the door knob, and we see that she’s left the door unlocked. The camera pulls back, and then swoops down again, for emphasis. And then a flashing arrow appears on the screen, with text that helpfully explains: ‘door unlocked!’” (73). In order for a viewer to understand this scene, the viewer simply has to follow the arrows. The scene clearly does not require the viewer to think about what is going on because everything is explained with details and the viewer already knows what to expect. On the other hand, Johnson explains the complexity of modern TV shows that require viewers to think: “…viewers of shows like Hill Street Blues in the eighties no doubt had moments of confusion where the sheer number of simultaneous plots created present-tense mystery: we’d forget why Renko was wearing that busboy outfit because we’d forgotten about the earlier sequence introducing the undercover plot” (76). It is difficult to understand this scene unless the viewer remembers what had happened before to fill in the
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