In the two essays, Don’t Blame TV by Jeff Greenfield and Who Us? Stop Blaming Kids and TV by Mike Males, both authors defend the theory that television has little impact on today’s youth and that other significant factors are to blame for the negative changes in society. While the topics may appear similar, there are many differences in how the authors attempt to defend their theses, making one more successful than the other. In any well written argumentative essay there must be a clear thesis, good supporting examples, some objections along with any rebuttals, the writing should be focused with a natural flow.
Firstly, the thesis of Greenfield’s essay is somewhat broad and it is not explicitly stated so the reader can understand the topic. He states in his thesis that TV
has been blamed for the decline of scores on scholastic achievement tests, for the rise in crime, for the decline in voter turnout, for the growth of premarital and extramarital sex, for the supposed collapse of family life and the increase in divorce rate (1).
Further along in the essay he gets to his real thesis with a Latin phrase describing false causation: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (1). In other words, it is incorrect to conclude that since these changes in society followed the rise in television usage, television must be the cause. This thesis is what he attempts to support in his essay, but it is naïve to surmise that the increase in TV and the increase in societies problems are merely coincidental. On the other hand, Males makes his thesis very simple and clear in the first line of his essay by quoting James Baldwin: “Children have never been very good at listening to elders, but they have never failed to imitate them” (qtd. in Males 1). By this reference, he claims that adults are to blame for the increase in violence and drug use among today’s youth.
It is nearly impossible to determine the influence that TV has on SAT scores by interpreting it’s complex trends, yet part of Greenfield’s thesis is that the decline in achievement tests has been falsely blamed on the increase of TV usage among youths. He objects to this by stating that test scores have stopped declining since 1982. It is a bold statement to imply that TV is not to blame for the lowering of scores since there are many other elements that influence the rise and fall of the results. Yet when a closer look is taken at television usage among children a trend seems to evolve. For example, The New York Times published an article stating that a recent “study found that those children with televisions in their bedrooms consistently scored significantly lower on math, reading and language arts tests” (Nagourney).
While Greenfield attempts to prove how TV is not a factor in the dumbing of American youths, Mike Males chooses a different method by showing how the most obvious factor of rising violence is overlooked while TV takes the blame. In a recommendation drafted by the International Association of...