The Braindead Megaphone – 12 September 2010
What problem does Saunders suggest is afflicting the American mass media? What evidence
does he use to support his argument? Which elements make his argument more convincing?
Which elements work to erode his credibility?
In his article, Saunders argues that American media, driven by a powerful profit motive,
is drowning in insignificant, poorly-thought out stories that try to pass off as “news”.
Accordingly, the general public also dumbs down to concern itself with un-newsworthy issues as
it thinks, questions, and imagines less. Saunders uses real-life examples of the publicity that
relatively unimportant cases, such as that
of OJ Simpson, received to demonstrate his point –
people no longer know how to independently gauge the importance of an issue. He also brings
up the war in Iraq as an example of a “failure of imagination”, hinting that, had America thought
through the war and were more cautious and conscious of its actions, it would not have entered
the war in the first place.
Most of the metaphors Saunders uses, from the one with the megaphone in part 2, to the scenario
in part 7 about the vegetable that turns people red, are powerful and easy-to-understand ways to
explain his arguments about a braindead, money-obsessed media afflicting a braindead culture
and society. Weakening his point, part one of Saunders’ argument about the Middle Ages field
worker seems like an irrelevant and poorly-explained introduction to his main point; he draws a
narrow distinction between historic man and modern man and only vaguely alludes to mass
media making the difference between the two.
Later, his argument jumps around, going first
from explaining that society is capped by an intelligence ceiling to accusing media of greed and
corruption to encouraging people to question and resist mindless newsfeeds and wait, what was
the main point again? Progression and expansion of the argument are welcome but they only
loosely adhere to the focus of the article.
Getting Started – 14 September 2010
What is the audience for Anne Lamott's "Getting Started"? What phrases or sentences,
exactly, point you toward your answer? What topics does she stress as important to strong and
In “Getting Started”, Lamott mostly gears her writing toward a younger crowd, ranging
from mid to late-teens. She employs a more informal tone, simply by using “yeah” instead of
“yes”. Her writing is peppered with sarcastic humor, joking, “…self-loathing may cause you to
fall into a narcoleptic coma before dinner…” and “‘it’s not like you don’t have a choice, because
you do – you can either type or kill yourself.’” Also, she references
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
, traditionally-high school text material, on multiple occasions, and in the beginning when
she guides the reader into producing quality writing, she only asks that we think about childhood
recollections, making the assumption that her readers have yet to gather any adulthood