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This Is What Democracy Looks Like
December 20, 2007
Glued to It
The following is my 20-year-old daughter Bonnie's final exam for one of her classes. I felt that this commentary, and the cartoon from Mr. Wasserman makes a strong statement and was excited to publish it. I hope you enjoy it. -NG
Wasserman’s social commentary cartoon—in a nutshell—hits the nail on the head of
society today. The comic portrays three teenage or preteen boys sitting in front
of a television, brandishing three of those ubiquitous video game controllers
practically glued to their hands. They look wide-eyed and bewildered. Why?
Because the “impossible” level they need to beat in their random virtual
entertainment game in order to rescue the princess, conquer the world, defeat
the evil warlord or whatever ridiculous “battle” that finishes the game and
declares the boys “Game Masters” requires them to—gasp—read a book. Oh, the
There is not one specific event that inspired this cartoon, just generation after generation plopping themselves unceremoniously in front of their televisions and manhandling oddly-shaped game controllers combined with the lack of real brain stimulation—I.E., cracking open a book. It has become increasingly apparent that video games are, if not the sole reason for a lack of exercise (besides, of course, pushing off the couch to plug in a wayward wire after it comes loose sometime during a virtual battle royale between two disgustingly ugly monsters), free-falling grades, and a general disenchantment of today’s youth. The hilarity of this comic is the irony: the boys would rather struggle and lose points in their beloved game than open a book to discover just how to win said game. It is very sad—and, paradoxically, very humorous—that the group of boys cannot even read a book in order to beat a video game.
The teenage boys in this comic are not real people. In fact, they are a stereotype—and a rather truthful one at that. These boys represent today’s youth: the lack of movement, motivation, and interest beyond that which is in front of them—mind-numbing and brain-rotting virtual reality. The cans laying haphazardly about the room are symbolic of how lazy and game-obsessed teenagers have become. The trio cannot even bring themselves to tear their eyes from their video game to throw out their soda cans. The two boys on the right end of the couch appear to be slightly overweight, as if they have not had any real exercise in ages. But I would be willing to bet that their fingers are calloused and sweaty from repeatedly pressing those cursed buttons immersed in the controller.
Wasserman uses this cartoon to express his opinion of society and teenagers today in a humorous way. Obviously, his estimation is that young people have grown increasingly lethargic and zombie-esque. It has become quite hard to imagine, not a few decades ago, that children would spend their leisure time reading or playing outside with the neighborhood kids. Why, in the fifties and sixties and beyond, most mothers would not allow their children to watch more than an hour of television at a time. Nowadays, the prospect of going a whole day without T.V. and video games is absolutely preposterous in the eyes of the youth of today.
Naturally, it goes without saying that I agree with Mr. Wasserman’s summation that teenagers have become so dependent on video games and television to provide entertainment that most of them have not read a book of their own free will in years. They cannot even bother to read a help guide to beat a video game! While Wasserman’s comic is funny, it is also not an exaggeration. I myself have a fifteen year old brother. He has more video game consoles than he knows what to do with—more computer games, more handheld gaming systems than Circuit City. He does not even leave the house without his PSP. I know that at least one of his video and/or computer games have come with an instruction manual, but to my knowledge, he has not even removed it from the box. And yet he complains when he loses. I fear for his—and every other teenager’s—sanity and brain cells.
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