Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson *****

Talk about a show with a mind-warp for my parents’ generation! This is a book that takes what popular criticism of media in today’s culture has rather emphatically stated as truth and flips it on its ear. Not only is pop culture making us smarter rather than dumber as a nation, but there’s even a name for it: “The Sleeper Curve.”

Now, I’m not sure how someone in their mid-50s or -60s would react to this book but I know that even the cover of it has elicited snorts of disbelief from my co-workers. However, when I have explained the theory to someone they begin to think and question. Invariably, at the end of our discussion they ask me for the author’s name so that they can go out and buy the book. Whether they read it and decide it’s complete hogwash or read it and decide it is 100% accurate I don’t know. What I do know is that it is a book that I agree with, found absolutely intriguing, and had a blast reading at the same time.

Admittedly, this is not a book that I picked up on my own. It is a book that was assigned for class. However, as soon as I heard the title I was immediately intrigued by the concept. Johnson manages to make a very convincing argument. In third grade I told my mother that school was harder when I was in third grade than when she was in third grade because we had to know more and we had to think differently. She laughed. So did any other adult I had that conversation with throughout my life growing up. However, this book proves that the way we are expected to think today is different from how we were expected to think in regards to pop culture as an American people. The increasing complexity of our entertainment in general is an interesting point to read about.

Not only was this informative but it managed to hold my attention. I sat down and read it in about 4 hours, but it was a well spent 4 hours. Not only did I learn about structures within media but I also found out about the changes over time. If you’re interested in popular culture theory at all this is a must read with an easy style of writing on a complex topic.

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