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January 22, 2021, 08:15:42 PM


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Author Topic: Do Comic Books Make us Smarter?  (Read 6112 times)
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2007, 01:18:30 PM »

Comics occasionally cause me to crave a good stiff drink...

The point of the book, and the reason I referenced the comics I did (ie, comics without tons of continuity, with the exception of 52) is that the modern narratives that we follow, be they Sopranos, Survivor, Prison Break, Heroes, 24, etc. are more complicated and concern more relations between individuals and groups and demand more of an audience.  This is what DC continuity does, in a way, if you see the entire monthly output of the company as one "series".  But I don't read enough modern superhero comics to know if they are even half as complicated (?) as tv or some video games.

I haven't read the book except for some excerpts, but its claims aren't particularly far-fetched. I've certainly noticed how video games, for instance, have made me better at solving puzzles and operating a computer, for instance (in a roundabout way, they even taught me how to build one: in order to play the more graphically demanding ones, I ended up building my own, and continue to make them for friends and myself).

As far as comics go, I'm sure all reading material is beneficial to you - even the bad stuff gives you standards to judge by. Certainly complicated continuities help you use your memory, and beyond that, speaking for myself, comics taught me a lot of vocabulary as I was growing up, and also helped to place it in context. This was certainly helpful to me as I was growing up in a trilingual environment; comics helped me juggle the three languages I was struggling with, and also showcased the cultures that produced them.

Some words and expressions I can remember first encountering in comics: "Alter ego", "By dint of...", "Rankle", "Annihilate", "Ultimate Nullifier".
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2007, 01:51:42 PM »

I agree, I guess, that many of America's favorite shows today require a much more significant investment of time and attention than they used to.  Compare "LOST," with its insanely meandering plot threads to that 70s' ratings bonanza "The Love Boat," which you could miss for 6 weeks, come back to and still know everything you needed to follow the "plots."

BUT...if this is how you define "intelligence," then today's audiences aren't different, just today's shows.  All my life, I've known people who could tell you the plot to every episode of "I Love Lucy."  In the 70s I read articles by Trek fans who resolved continuity problems in the show, plotted the evolution of the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship, and came up with explanations for quandries as profound as Spock's birth (which should have been medically impossible) and as silly as "where were the toilets on the Enterprise?" 

All that's changed now is that someone somewhere at the networks finally realized this sort of fan exists, and that he/she is the real demographic to shoot for; not the bored channel surfer you have to dazzle week after week with some goofy stunt (Look folks, Fonzy jumping a shark!), but the continuity geek, the superfan who lives for each little clue about the lead character's past, each tiny step forward in an ongoing romance, each meta-textual reference to a similar show we already love.

So, does TV make us smarter?  No, quite the opposite; I'd say we've made TV smarter.
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2007, 06:45:42 PM »

Comics are for entertainment, and that's fine with me, however some comics can legitamently make your smarter, like this one:

http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/

check on the link it's free and it's more on topic than you think with all these Public Domain works being used nowadays.
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2007, 06:31:43 AM »

I suppose any claims about TV making people smarter can be immediately voided by Jackass.
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« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2007, 11:47:31 AM »

The smart ones don't watch that or 'reality' shows but prefer Jeopardy.
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« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2007, 06:26:56 PM »

Jeopardy is a fraud in some ways, the reason is because whenever they have a topic that I am familar with, the answers (questions) are actually very easy. So it is not really as hard as it appears.
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« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2007, 12:31:51 AM »

Super Monkey, don't go knocking the Jeopardy!  Don't forget it is also a game of physical skill --you have to have a very coordinated thumb. 

The book I was referring to at the beginning of this thread makes reference to reality tv and argues that they are 10 x as demanding as say, old quiz shows or gilligan's island (or playhouse theatre)/

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« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2007, 01:43:36 PM »

Sorry, there's no way reality TV is demanding of anyone's intelligence.  It's the electronic equivalent of peering through a knothole in your neighbor's fence, or maybe staring at an accident scene out of your car window.  It's TV by stupid people, for stupid people, starring stupid people.

I'd argue that as complicated and meandering as modern plotlines are on shows like 24 or LOST, the shows that really built intelligence in viewers were the old anthology shows like Twilight Zone, Climax or Playhouse 90.  There was some great writing on those shows, and without the "crutch" of continuing characters and ongoing subplots.

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