Modern television has surpassed many former boundaries held by our society standards of fifty years ago. New inventive shows are created almost every month with a plethora of different characters, surprising twists and intertwining plots. This allows producers to capture the attention of viewers from week to week and allows the television industry to prosper. But does television have any intellectual benefits or is it all just garbage? The answer can be found at a happy medium. Dana Steven’s, the author of the article “Thinking Outside the Idiot Box”, is correct in her idea that the multi-threading and complicated plotlines of television shows in modern-day have no real intellectual benefit for viewers.
Dana Steven’s article specifically addresses television and its intellectual merit, arguing that though television shows today may have more complex plotlines than fifty years ago, they are not, in turn, making viewers any smarter. She spends most of the article pointing out various statements made by Steven Johnson that television has intellectual merit and speedily provides a rebuttal for them. She furthermore suggests that everyone turn off their TV’s for National TV Turnoff Week and challenges Johnson’s idea by stating “…just turn the set off till Sunday and see if you get any dumber.” (234)
Steven’s article is effective in several ways when it comes to her counterarguments, her rhetoric and her logic but is ineffective when it comes to tone. With statements such as, “24 is the perfect example of a TV show that challenges its audience’s cognitive faculties with intricate plotlines and rapid-fire information…it’s really good at teaching you how to think…about future episodes of 24”(232), the reader questions the validity of...
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... on future generations. Steven’s remains neutral, viewing television as somewhere between black and white when it comes to its effect on society and does not feel that it has any intellectual merit. Moderation is key and it is up to the viewer to make that discretion. Some television shows have educational content that could be beneficial socially but others showcase only the worst merits in people. Overall, Dana Steven’s article is sound and correct. Just because a show has complex plotlines does not prove that the viewer will be smarter because of it. Next time you watch TV consider whether the show is going to help you figure out what the cure for cancer is.
Stevens, Dana. "They Say/I Say": the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing : with Readings. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel K. Durst. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2009. Print.