Response to “Thinking Outside the Idiot Box” by Dana Stevens

In Steven Johnson’s article “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” he explains that the TV shows in the present day are hard to follow which makes the audience have to think more by following overlapping character stories. However Dana Stevens argues that Johnson’s claims are misleading, because he fails to incorporate all aspects of watching TV. I agree with Stevens that the more complex shows now are about getting the audience to want more and think about next week’s episode. Johnson does say that the show 24 is a great show to watch to gain knowledge, but like Stevens says he doesnt focus on the actual plot of the show just that the audience must follow multiple characters and its complex multi-threading. I do not think that turning the TV off would necessarily make a person dumber, but i do think that socially they would be left behind. In other words, a person that does not watch TV would not be up to date with for example the new episode of Jersey Shore. Even someone that would not be interested in the social programs would not be up to date on the immediate news, because newspapers come out with the news of yesterday rather than the present day events. Although Stevens does contradict her article at the end when she explains that she thinks it is smart to watch TV, because she gets paid to do it, her overall arguement is well put together. I think this article argues against Johnson’s claim that there are many different ways one can get smarter by watching TV, or one can make smart decisions based off watching TV.

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