TV Pop Culture: Cognitive Malignancy or Brainpower?

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American pop culture has come a long way in the last few decades: from the rock 'n’ roll boom of the fifties, to the hippie aesthetic of the seventies, to the electronic age of the nineties. Pop culture clearly fluctuates at a rapid pace and even though fads have come and gone, one thing has remained viable even in more contemporary times: the TV set. On top of that, never has the world seen a greater peak in technology than it has in recent years, and the television is no exception. Unfortunately, as fascinating as these advancements may sound, it is generally presumed that the television—as with much modern pop culture tech—has had and continues to have detrimental effects on Western culture. Given that the TV has been a predominant force for the last sixty years, it’s safe to assume that most have heard the pervasive statement of how television "rots your brain.” By contrast, the benefits of this technology are rarely discussed and when the topic does arise, it seems to be hastily dismissed as “phooey.” Despite these labels, some would argue that television pop culture not only provides a form of recreational relaxation, but also has the potential to enhance cognitive capabilities.

Obviously the television isn't a new technological development; it's been around since at least the turn of the 1920’s and was readily available for public sale by the late 1930’s (Stephens). After the Second World War, the television expanded with its introduction into the commercial mainstream, and by 1955 it was estimated that roughly half of all American homes had at least one (Stephens). Although certainly impressive, this statistic would only continue to burgeon throughout the decades with the rise of color TV and cable b...

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