When’s the last time you really cared about a movie? I mean really cared, enough to have a long conversation about its nuances, characters, plot, theme? For me, it’s been a long time–so much so I have a hard time remembering. Maybe Fahrenheit 9/11 and before that…Lost in Translation? My mind struggles to find films that have personal meaning for me anymore. This isn’t to say that I don’t like movies; I do. I just don’t love them much anymore. Which brings me to TV.
I’ve always loved TV–I mean, hell, I did write for TV Guide for two years. But lately, TV has loved us back. It’s gotten better. Television is, dare I say it, the best narrative medium going right now. It’s hit its stride, at least in dramas: The Sopranos, Alias, Lost, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Desperate Housewives, 24, Gilmore Girls, CSI, Law and Order, Eyes…when in the history of the medium have there been at any given time period so many shows of such high quality on the air? And this isn’t to mention such comedy gems as The Daily Show and Arrested Development, as well as the addictive pleasures of Survivor and The Apprentice?
And now it turns out that not only is TV getting better, it might be making us better too. Steven Johnson’s excerpt from his new book explains:
…to keep up with entertainment like ”24,” you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships. This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion — video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms — turn out to be nutritional after all.
I believe that the Sleeper Curve is the single most important new force altering the mental development of young people today, and I believe it is largely a force for good: enhancing our cognitive faculties, not dumbing them down.
Ok, enough blogging. I need to go make myself smarter by watching TV.