Thursday, February 6, 2014

Does Watching TV make You Smarter Or Dumber?

Compare and Contrast (Naysayer critical Source)

"Watching TV Makes You Smarter" by Steven Johnson VS. "Thinking Outside The Idiot Box" by Dana Stevens.

In the article "Watching TV Makes You Smarter" by Steven Johnson he talks about how TV is not necessarily "dumbing down"(Johnson ) our society as some people have been believing. Johnson introduces the concept of the sleeper curve that pop culture is growing in complexity and becoming more sophisticated with each passing year. Good TV stimulates brain activity and forces one to think. The right shows exercises parts of the brain and engages our mind to focus on the plot. Shows today are multi-threaded dramas that increase intellect and teach us how to analyze situations. Past shows like Hill Street and the more recent show The Sopranos are multi threaded dramas that made us think critically and increased our intelligence. Reality TV changes the mental development of the younger generation for the better. It teaches the younger generation how to handle stressful situations and life experiences. Reality TV engages the mind and teaches street smarts with a dose of reality. Johnson's conveyance is that the true test is whether a show engages our minds or sedates it. To “determine what really is cognitive junk food and what is generally nourishing”(Johnson ).

On the other hand, Dana Stevens in her article "Thinking Outside The Idiot Box" Disagrees with Johnson's claim that watching TV makes you smarter and that TV shows has become more realistic and complex throughout the years. As she states,
 "If watching TV really makes you smarter, as Steven Johnson argued in an article in yesterday's New York Times Magazine(an excerpt from his forthcoming book) then I guess I need to watch a lot more of it, because try as I might, I could make no sense of Johnson's piece. As far as I can tell, his thesis is that television shows have slowly grown more and more complicated over the last two decades" (Stevens).
Stevens believes that "watching TV teaches you to watch more TV"(Stevens) meaning that watching TV doesn't make you smarter it just immerses you into watching more and more TV. She points out all his flaws in order to prove that she is correct. A process called counterclaiming.
 Stevens argues that Johnson fails to mention the not "nutritional" impact of the 16 minutes worth of commercials of the show 24 which he considers in his article as "nutritional". Johnson argued that 24 is good one’s cognitive development of the brain because of the great terrorist plot of the show. However, Stevens argues that Johnson dismisses the representation of Muslim terrorists and torture controversies in the show 24. As Stevens says, 
"Not only does Johnson fail to account for the impact of the 16 minutes' worth of commercials that interrupt any given episode of, say, 24 (a show he singles out as particularly "nutritional"), but he breezily dismisses recent controversies about that program's representation of Muslim terrorists or its implicit endorsement of torture." (Stevens)
Stevens says that the show, 24 is a perfect example of a show that immerses viewers in the ethics of violence rather then enabling us to increase our cognitive skills. it teaches us to watch the upcoming episodes of the show, which is not notably nutritional and healthy for our generation. Stevens restates that Johnson's claim that television enhances the brain causing ones intelligence to increase seems "deeply, hilariously bogus".
Steven suggests that TV doesn't make you smarter nor does it make you dumber. We as adults should decide for ourselves the amount of TV we should watch, and choose our favorite TV show because we like it not because it increases your cognitive skills by tracking multiple threads. The best way to test the  affect of TV viewing is by participating in the in the National TV Turnoff Week. Which is a week in which you turn off your TV, making you re think about the role of TV and if it impacts you in a negative way by making you dumber or not.

Works Cited
Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” Reading Pop Culture A Portable Anthology, Ed. Jeff Ousborne, Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2013. . Print.
Stevens, Dana. "Thinking Outside the Idiot Box". Slate. The Slate Group-a Graham Holdings Company, 25 April 2005. Web. 6 February 2014.

Does anyone know if i cited the website correctly?

1 comment:

  1. Late!

    But a great post! You found an article directly contradicting one of your sources?! Awesome! Now you just need a scholarly source!

    Also, you cited Stevens' article perfectly!