High Stakes

We did not have class on Friday to discuss the “stakes” of writing. So, I’m going to take a gander and assume that “stakes” means the risks that the writer took with the piece – but I am not exactly sure.  It’s either that or Buffy the Vampire Slayer holding a wooden pointed stick. I’m hoping for the latter but I’m gonna go with the first thought.

Today’s piece was The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders. It is a great piece that criticizes the media in the United States. I think the biggest stake that the author takes in this piece is putting himself out there by the nature of his arguments. The overarching theme is the media and how it makes us stupid, but the examples he uses may be considered controversial. Towards the beginning of the essay he talks about 9/11 and the war that followed. Saunders says on page four, “by this time our national discourse had been so degraded – our national language so dumbed down- that we were sitting ducks”.  I just think it’s funny because he’s calling everyone stupid and saying that we are all mere followers of the guy with the megaphone. I don’t necessarily disagree with him and do find it humorous, but more importantly I find it bold. The author makes very strong arguments throughout the essay and sets the “stakes” high. On top of all of us being stupid, Saunders also claims that because there is so much stupidity in the world we have become tolerant and accepting of this stupidity. Which again, I don’t necessarily disagree with his agrument but it is another bold statement setting the stakes even higher.

The author gives several reasons as to why this may be. He talks about the megaphone guy, that if someone talks loud enough and makes enough noise they will eventually be followed by others. Saunders also says that our world is profit focused and that we are willing to tell the truth but not enough to make the ratings suffer.  I definitely agree with this. Of course because we are all focused on the money and getting bills to make it rain, we do everything we can to “stay in the game”. One example that the writer used was his educated friend that has a job as a writer that writes mindless stories about Anna Nicole Smith and likes only to avoid delivering pizzas again. People are afraid of falling backwards, with the mentality “don’t hate the player, hate the game”.

How will I set up the stakes for my essay? I suppose by taking risks and putting my own opinion out there, even if it may not be the popular one. I hopefully will be able to give solid examples like Saunders to defend my points. His arguments are also clear and well-stated. This would be a valuable trait for my essay to have because it makes the work easier to understand and follow. Biggest thing though put the stakes high because, “if you aim for the moon and fail, at least you’re among the stars”, right? – or something cheesy like that.


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