The thesis of Everything Bad is Good for You is this: people who deride popular culture do so because so much of pop culture's subject matter is banal or offensive. But the beneficial elements of video games and TV arise not from their subject matter, but from their format, which require that players and viewers winkle out complex storylines and puzzles, getting a "cognitive workout" that teaches the same kind of skills that math problems and chess games impart. As Johnson points out, no one evaluates the benefit of chess based on its storyline or monotonically militaristic subject matter.
Mediated is difficult to describe. Imagine that you are the sun, and every flower on Earth points toward you, every leaf on every tree angles toward you. This is somewhat similar to the situation we, as 21st-century Americans, face every day. Each of us is at the center of our own solar system, surrounded every day by hundreds of flattering appeals for our attention, be it television, radio, books, magazines, billboards, etc. What effect does this have? How do we, who are practically the stars of our own reality shows, compare to our grandparents, whose media intake was but a trickle? How do kids growing up today find their way through the constant barrage of information, advertising, and entertainment? Is there anything left in the world that's still real, or is "real" the best we can hope for? DeZengotita neither celebrates nor condemns our situation, but he does a great job of describing it.
DeZengotita's second chapter of... [continues]
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