You hear throughout developed culture that popular media has a tendency to “dumb” down societies. Whether you believe this idea is solely based on your discretion, but there is one man who took the time to analyze this collective supposition deeply. Steven Johnson and his written work Everything Bad Is Good For You looked at the effects from popular media from an alternative perspective. Looking past the arguments of morality, Johnson calls attention to the progressive complexity in cultures seen in the past thirty years through elements such as video games, television, and film. He states the significance of participating in such medias is not so much changing what we think about, but how cognitive facilities are being exercised. As a result of such complex engagements, people are becoming smarter or at least better thinkers. This hypothesis, which formulated back in 2005, is referred to as The Sleeper Curve. Though he states the increased demand of complex skills is shown through multiple medias, we will be looking specifically on how this curve is measured in television. By comparing themes of The Sleeper Curve and prior shows, we will see how the American television drama Sons of Anarchy exemplifies this developed complexity in television programming. After analyzing the drama, one can see the show’s success of acquiring complexity by it use of multiple threads, fillins, and complicated social networks.
Let us first begin by looking at how the number of threads of were utilized. As a way of measuring his hypothesis, Johnson analyzed narrative threads to demonstrate progressive growth in cognitive demands. When comparing Son’s of Anarchy thread structures to his proposal, the show did in fact expose a complex dynamic. Kurt Sutter, S.O.A.’s producer, used multiple threads within his story line. Within the first five minutes of the season three finale, four narrative threads were laid out for the viewer. When comparing the cop thriller Starsky...
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