ENG 96: Harwood
Has popular culture grown more complex and intellectually stimulating over time when compared with popular culture from 20 years ago? That is the question Steven Johnson tries to answer in his best seller Everything Bad Is Good For You. Johnson uses tables and graphs, as well as the use of multiple threading, flashing arrows, and social networking to show the reader the difference in viewing a show from the 80’s (such as Starsky and Hutch or Dragnet) and comparing them to shows from todays popular culture (like The Sopranos and Hill Street Blues). While the content might not always be educational or motivational the framework of the programming has become more complex when broken down into concepts such as Multiple Threading, Flashing Arrows, and Social Networking.
How many different scenarios pop up in a typical episode of Starsky and Hutch? Johnson uses a thread in the subplot as a form of structural measurement when charting multiple threads in episodes. Starsky and Hutch, for example, has few threads being that the show will jump between perspectives of the cops and the criminals, the show will start and end entirely within the 30 minute episode. There is no overlapping of threads nor is there multiple threads to remember. When compared to Hill Street Blues, not only does the number of primary characters increase enough to be recognizable but the episodes use threads (or events) that overlap each other from previous episodes. While multiple threading has been increasing in popular culture the dramatic decreasing of what Johnson likes to refer to as “flashing arrows” can also be used to measure todays pop culture then that of yesteryear.
If you can remember a scene in any movie where the villain appears emerging from the shadows with dim, atonal music playing in the background then you have followed a flashing arrow. Flashing arrows are similar to narrative signposts placed in convenient...