Bugs Bunny Stole My Cognitive Surplus!

or, What's all the hubbub, Bub?

Today is the 70th anniversary of “A Wild Hare” the first appearance of Bugs Bunny, who first appeared in my mother’s generation, and continued to be (as Clay Shirky argues ) one of the primary time-wasters uses of cognitive surplus indulged in by my own generation.

Here’s that original short (which my mom might have seen in the movie theater along with a news reel about the World’s Fair or the Germans bombing London):

This was nominated for an Academy Award. If that disturbs you, perhaps you could pick up Everything Bad Is Good for You in which Steven Johnson argues that pop culture, by demanding more & more of our cognitive surplus in order for us to keep up with it’s increasing complexity, is actually making us smarter.

Not sure if I buy that, but I do know that the stranger Bugs got, the more I liked it:

What do you think? Do popular stories get more complex over time? Have the shows you watch become more challenging? Can complex structure offset vapid content? Is it possible to have both?


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