Popular Culture

Good Essays
In today’s society, people often look at mass culture in inquisitive, often condescending and disdainful ways. Activities such as playing videogames and watching TV are severely frowned upon, to the point where, as it is presented in popular mass media, they are considered wholly damaging. In Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson makes an attempt at changing this way of thinking by presenting the subject of mass culture from a different perspective.

In his book, Johnson talks about the Sleeper Curve and how people are mistaking the effects of mass culture activities as being completely negative. He states that these activities are, in fact, far more beneficial than popular
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Popular mass media has indeed put TV shows and video games under negative light. This has spread from person to person, eventually reaching the point were any amount time spent on these activities is considered wasted at best, if not damaging to the person involved in them.
The increase in the complexity of popular culture witnessed throughout the previous decades stands as proof to the fact that popular culture does not dumb down the people who choose to involve themselves with it. “Despite claims to the contrary, popular culture has grown increasingly complex over the past thirty years. Complexity, in this case, is defined as the amount of cognitive work the audience is asked to perform in order to comprehend the work in question. This growing complexity is easiest to see in videogames, but is also occurring in television.
[...] One particularly relevant example of this phenomenon is the ABC television show Lost, which exemplifies several of the key features associated with growing
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People see video games as an activity whose only purpose is to entertain when, in fact, they have incredible potential as an educational tool. “Video games constantly incentivize the player with the prospect of being gratified for problem solving (Griffiths, 2002) which has parallels with a well-run small group tutorials where praise or high marks are rewards for problem solving. Whether it be victory over the game’s battles, solving a puzzle or the prospect of a better looking character to control, the player is constantly motivated with goal orientation via a “carefully calibrated balance of rewards, challenges, and chance” (Chatfield, 2010, p. 2)” (

To sum it up, Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter presents the idea that popular culture is not damaging but, on the contrary, beneficial to people due to what is known as the “Sleeper Curve”. Aside from this, Johnson makes the case that games can be used as education tools due to their reward-based
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