Temple Times Online Edition
    NOVEMBER 3, 2005
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Author turns pop culture on its ear


Anyone who has ever plunked herself down in front of a television set or computer and lost several hours to shooting aliens, defeating evil wizards, or building cities from the ground up has certainly heard it before: Video games, television, movies — essentially all pop culture — are leading to the mental and moral decline of today’s youth.

Steven Johnson, however, says we shouldn’t believe the hype.

“All we tend to ever hear is that games are ruining our kids,” said Johnson, the author of national best-seller Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, Johnson will speak about how the popular culture that parents, politicians, and pundits love to hate is in fact getting better and in turn making us smarter.

“One of the reasons I wrote this book is that the discussion of games and other forms of pop culture in the national media typically focuses on the negative. Of course some games may be too violent, but if that’s all you’re focused on, it’s a rather skewed view.”


Johnson said, in retrospect, he had expected more backlash against the book.

What he received, however, was a storm of interest.

From May through June, “it was the most covered non-fiction book in the country,” which led to a string of appearances on “Today,” CNN, “Good Morning America,” NPR, “The Daily Show” and a host of other news and talk shows.

“There was something about the topic; the state of pop culture today,” he said. “I think people are tired of being scolded. The message is, ‘It’s not as bad as we’ve been told.’”

WHERE: Temple University Ambler, 580 Meetinghouse Road.

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. A book signing will follow the lecture.

- Jim Duffy