“Television: The Plug In Drug” was written by Marie Winn, and she describes how family life has been affected by the television set. Her central argument is that the American family has been destroyed by the television, and that family unity has been diminished overtime by this cultural addiction. Winn uses many different sources to back up her claims, and some are extremely effective, while others do not sufficiently provide evidence to support her argument. The argument that family unity has been shattered by the television set is backed up by many sources in this essay, although some are much more effective than others. The strongest point made by Marie Winn in her essay is that the relationship between family members has been greatly affected by the television. Emphasizing the importance of eye to eye contact and active listening is achieved through multiple testimonies, including one by Bruno Bettelheim who suggested, “Children who have been taught, or conditioned to listen passively most of the day…are often unable to respond to real persons because they arouse so much less feeling…”
Television encourages children to simply stare at the screen while a program runs, and the only instance close to a human-like situation is when an actor stares directly into the camera and breaks the fourth wall. This addiction also eliminates the opportunity for families to talk, converse, and argue, as well as confront problems. Winn uses a testimony from a mother, who says, “I find myself, with three children, wanting to turn on the TV set when they’re fighting.”, to emphasize her point of relationships between family members being diminished because of the television. Winn’s use of multiple sources and her logical look at human nature helps her argument be strongly delivered. The weakest point made by Marie Winn was that of family rituals disappearing due to the television set. Winn defines the term ritual in her essay two different ways, and then continues on to declare that most family rituals have not survived the “inroads of the television set.”
This defense is weak, because one may argue that watching television with the family is just as important of a ritual as eating dinner together or playing with the children. The testimony included in this section is from a young woman who grew up near Chicago, who describes Christmas at her household before and after the introduction of the television. According to her, all of the fun activities that occurred during the holiday season disappeared, and socializing was solely based on what was occurring on the big screen. However, a valid point that can contradict this is that there is nothing wrong with talking about what is happening on television, whether it is a sports game or a comedy sitcom. Winn’s weak evidence does not help her support her argument of television destroying the American family.
Throughout the essay, Marie Winn attempts to back up her argument that the cultural addiction to television has diminished family unity. She uses testimonies from parents, therapists, teachers, and writers to help support her claims. Her claims on the effects of television on relationships are strong, and numerous sources included in the essay aid her in proving her point. However, her section on family rituals is relatively weak, as it only has one testimony to back it up, and many of the things written can be countered easily. Nonetheless, Winn successfully argues the negative effects of television in American society, and makes readers question their everyday routines.
Courtney from Study Moose