Samuel Merritt University Empire of Illusion Essay

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Question Description

You must have a clearly stated, one sentence, argumentative thesis statement that states:

    • Your topic (the ONE specific argument you are analyzing—you are not writing about the entire book)
    • Your specific argument (how effective or ineffective you believe Hedges’ argument is)
    • Two/three reasons that support why the argument is either effective or ineffective:
      • Based on what you learned about making arguments in Writing Logically, Thinking Critically, what does Hedges do or fail to do that makes the argument ultimately effective or not.

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Empire of Illusion Essay Essay Overview As our final essay, you will use what you learned during the semester about critical thinking to analyze the effectiveness of one of the arguments in Empire of Illusion. Thesis Statement • • You must have a clearly stated, one sentence, argumentative thesis statement that states: o Your topic (the ONE specific argument you are analyzing—you are not writing about the entire book) o Your specific argument (how effective or ineffective you believe Hedges’ argument is) o Two/three reasons that support why the argument is either effective or ineffective: ▪ Based on what you learned about making arguments in Writing Logically, Thinking Critically, what does Hedges do or fail to do that makes the argument ultimately effective or not. Examples: o Hedges’ argument that the entertainment industry dilutes American public discourse and discourages critical thought is ineffective because he fails to account for the growing popularity of media that encourages and requires critical thinking. o While Hedges’ ardent critique of positive psychology may be cogent in its essence, it is ineffective in that it leans too heavily upon multiple logical fallacies, most glaringly the extensive use of epithets and false analogies. o Hedges’ argument on how positive psychology is an illusion is inefficient and weakened because he provides too many irrelevant supporting resources, generalizes these resources with fallacies, and makes equivocations about the importance of different definitions. o Although Hedges' commentary on the problematic themes portrayed and glorified through pornography in our culture is accurate, ultimately his analysis is incomplete because it fails to examine how it is symptomatic of underlying power structures built on patriarchal dominance, racism, and the exploitative commodification of natural resources, including human labor. o Hedges’ argument that positive psychology is used by corporate culture to suppress critical thinking, moral autonomy, and real relationships to establish conformity is unconvincing due to his use of equivocation, false analogy, and abstract language. Essay Requirements ✓ Each body paragraph must start with a topic sentence that tells readers what that paragraph will develop/cover (should pertain to your thesis statement). ✓ Each body paragraph should start and end with your thoughts – never research. ✓ A body paragraph should range between five and eight sentences – it should never be a page in length. ✓ Not only will you include research in your paper, but you must explain, analyze, and comment on each quote, summary, or paraphrase you incorporate into your essay – your critical thinking! o AXES: ▪ Assertions – statements which present points of view. ▪ eXamples – specific passages, scenes, events, or items which inspire these points of view. ▪ Explanations – statements which reveal how the examples support and/or complicate the assertions. 1 ▪ Significance – statements which reveal the importance of the analysis to our personal and/or cultural concerns. ✓ You will never include research without analyzing it. ✓ You will always need to show readers how or why your analysis is significant. ✓ Your conclusion should not merely function as a summary of your entire essay. ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ You are required to use proper MLA citation format for both in-text citations and a works cited page. You will not receive credit if you do not follow MLA citation guidelines. If you plagiarize ANY part of the essay, you will not receive credit. Must include a minimum of 2 acceptable outside sources (NEVER Wikipedia) o Academic databases for example ✓ Your essay must be FOUR pages (minimum). ✓ If you do not meet the length requirement, you will not receive credit. ✓ You will upload all drafts and the final paper to turnitin.com. ✓ Your essay will need to score in the GREEN category to receive credit. ✓ Formatting: Times New Roman, 12pt. font, double spaced. o No extra spacing allowed – at the beginning of the essay or between paragraphs o No headers or footers Deadlines * Tentative Thesis Statement: Monday, July 15th * Essay Draft: Friday, July 19th * Final Essay: Friday, July 26th 2 Table of Contents Title Page Dedication Praise I - The Illusion of Literacy II - The Illusion of Love III - The Illusion of Wisdom IV - The Illusion of Happiness V - The Illusion of America Notes Acknowledgements Bibliography Index Copyright Page 2 For Eunice, soles occidere et redire possvnt: nobis cvm semel occidit brevis lvx, nox est perpetva vna dormienda. da mi basia mille. 3 People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster. —JAMES BALDWIN 4 I The Illusion of Literacy Now the death of God combined with the perfection of the image has brought us to a whole new state of expectation. We are the image. We are the viewer and the viewed. There is no other distracting presence. And that image has all the Godly powers. It kills at will. Kills effortlessly. Kills beautifully. It dispenses morality. Judges endlessly. The electronic image is man as God and the ritual involved leads us not to a mysterious Holy Trinity but back to ourselves. In the absence of a clear understanding that we are now the only source, these images cannot help but return to the expression of magic and fear proper to idolatrous societies. This in turn facilitates the use of the electronic image as propaganda by whoever can control some part of it. —JOHN RALSTON SAUL, Voltaire’s Bastards1 We had fed the heart on fantasy, The heart’s grown brutal from the fare. —WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, The Stare’s Nest By My Window JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD, tall, clean-cut, in a collared shirt and white Stetson hat, stands in the center of the ring holding a heavy black microphone. Layfield plays wrestling tycoon JBL on the World Wrestling Entertainment tour.2 The arena is filled with hooting and jeering fans, including families with children. The crowd yells and boos at JBL, who has had a long career as a 5 professional wrestler. Many chant, “You suck! You suck! You suck!” “Last week I made Shawn Michaels an offer, and I have yet to hear back from the Heartbreak Kid,” drawls Layfield. Michaels, another WWE wrestler, is a crowd favorite. He is a self-professed born-again Christian with a working-man persona. “So earlier today I made Shawn Michaels an offer that was a lot easier to understand,” Layfield continues. “I challenge Shawn Michaels to a street fight tonight! So Shawn, I know you’re back there. Now what’s your answer?” “HBK, HBK, HBK!!!” the crowd intones. A pulsing rock beat suddenly shakes the arena as action shots of the Heartbreak Kid flash across the Titantron, the massive screen suspended over the ring. The crowd cheers, leaping up as Shawn Michaels, in jeans and an army-green shirt, whirls onstage, his long, blond hair flying. Pyrotechnics explode. The deafening sound system growls, “I know I’m sexy . . . I got the looks . . . that drive the girls wild. . . .” Michaels bursts into the ring, fists pumping, stalking back and forth. The ref steps in to begin the match. “HBK! HBK! HBK!” chants the crowd. “Hold on, hold on, referee,” Layfield says, putting his hand on the referee’s shoulder. People in the crowd begin to heckle. “Shawn,” he says, “you got a choice to make. You can either fight me right now in this street fight, or you can do 6 the right thing for you, your family, and your extended family, and take care of them in a financial crisis you never dreamed would happen a year ago today.” Michaels stands silently. “You see, I know some things, Shawn,” continues Layfield. “Rich people always do. Before this stock market crashed, nobody saw it coming, except, of course, my wife, but that didn’t help you, did it? See, I was hoarding cash. I was putting money in gold. While most Americans followed the leader—blindly, stupidly followed the leader —I was making money. In fact, Shawn, I was prospering while you were following the herd, losing almost everything, right, Shawn?” “Fight!! Fight!! Fight!! Fight!!” urges the crowd. Michaels looks hesitantly back and forth between the heaving crowd and Layfield. “You lost your 401(k). You lost your retirement. You lost your nest egg. You lost your children’s education fund,” Layfield bellows into the mic, his face inches from Michaels’s. “You got to support your extended family, Shawn, and now you look around with all this responsibility, and you look at your beautiful wife, she’s a beautiful lady, you look at your two little wonderful kids, and you wonder: ‘How in the world . . . am I going to send them . . . to college?’ ” Layfield pauses heavily. Michaels’ face is slack, pained. Small, individual voices shout out from the crowd. 7 “Well, I’ve got an answer,” Layfield goes on. “I’m offering you a job. I want you to come work—for me.” “No! No! No!” yells the crowd. Michaels blinks slowly, dazed, and lowers his eyes to the mat. “See, there’s always alternatives, Shawn. There’s alternatives to everything. You can always wrestle until you’re fifty. You might even wrestle till you’re sixty. In fact, you could be a lot like these has-beens who are disgracing themselves in high school gyms all over the country, bragging about their war stories of selling the place out while they’re hawking their eight-by-tens and selling Polaroids. Shawn, you could be that guy, or you could take my offer, because I promise you this: All the revenue that you’re goin’ to make off your DX T-shirts will not compare to the offer that I . . . made . . . to you.” He tells the Heartbreak Kid to look in the mirror, adding, “The years haven’t been kind to you, have they, Shawn?” He reminds him that one more bad fall, one more injury, and “you’re done, you’re done.” The crowd begins to rally their stunned hero, growing louder and louder. “HBK! HBK! HBK!” “What else can you really do besides this?” Layfield asks. “You get a second chance in life.” Layfield sweeps off his white Stetson. “Go ahead,” he screams into Michaels’s face. “Ever since you walked out here . . . people have been wantin’ you to kick me in the face. So why don’t you do it? I’m gonna give you a free 8 shot, Shawn, right here.” The crowd erupts, roaring for the Heartbreak Kid to strike. “HBK!! DO IT!! DO IT!! HBK!! HBK!!!” “Listen to ’em. Everybody wants it. Shawn, it’s what you want. You’re twitching. You’re begging to pull the trigger, so I’m telling you right now, take a shot! Take it!” The Heartbreak Kid takes one step back, his stubbled face trembling, breathing rapidly like a rabbit. The crowd is leaping out of their seats, thrusting their arms in the air, holding up handmade banners. “HBK!!! HBK!!! HBK!!!” “Do it, Shawn,” Layfield hollers, “before it’s too late. This is your second chance, but understand this, understand this—” “HBK!!! HBK!!! HBK!!!” “—Listen to me and not them! If you take this shot . . . then this offer is off the table . . . forever.” The crowd stops chanting. Different cries are heard: boos, shouts to attack, shouts to stop. There is no longer unity in the auditorium. Layfield holds his head outstretched until the Heartbreak Kid slowly turns his back. Layfield leers. Shawn Michaels climbs through the ropes out of the ring 9 and walks heavily back to the dressing room, his dull gaze on the ground. “Lookin’ forward to doin’ business with ya, Shawn,” Layfield shouts after him. The crowd screams. Layfield, like most of the wrestlers, has a long, complicated fictional backstory that includes a host of highly publicized intrigues, fights, betrayals, infidelities, abuse, and outrageous behavior—including goose-stepping around the ring and giving the Nazi salute during a wrestling bout in Germany. But tonight he has come in his newest incarnation as the “self-made millionaire,” the capitalist, the CEO who walked away with a pot of gold while workers across the country lost their jobs, saw their savings and retirement funds evaporate, and fought off foreclosure. As often happens in a celebrity culture, the line between public and fictional personas blurs. Layfield actually claims to have made a fortune as a stock market investor and says he is married to the “richest woman on Wall Street.” He is a regular panelist on Fox News Channel’s The Cost of Freedom and previously appeared on CNBC, not only as a celebrity wrestler but as a savvy investor whose conservative political views are worth airing. He also has written a best-selling book on financial planning called Have More Money Now. He hosts a weekend talk-radio program syndicated nationally by Talk Radio Network, in which he discusses politics. 10 The interaction between the crowd and Layfield is vintage professional wrestling. The twenty-minute bouts employ the same tired gimmicks, the same choreographed moves, the endless counts to two by the referee that never seem to get to three without the pinned wrestler leaping up from the mat to continue the fight. There is the desperate struggle of a prostrate wrestler trying to reach the hand of his or her partner to be relieved in the ring. This pantomime, with his opponent on his back and his arm outstretched, can go on for a couple of minutes. There are a lot of dirty shots when the referee is distracted—which is often. The bouts are stylized rituals. They are public expressions of pain and a fervent longing for revenge. The lurid and detailed sagas behind each bout, rather than the wrestling matches themselves, are what drive crowds to a frenzy. These ritualized battles give those packed in the arenas a temporary, heady release from mundane lives. The burden of real problems is transformed into fodder for a high-energy pantomime. And the most potent story tonight, the most potent story across North America, is one of financial ruin, desperation, and enslavement of a frightened and abused working class to a heartless, tyrannical, corporate employer. For most, it is only in the illusion of the ring that they are able to rise above their small stations in life and engage in a heroic battle to fight back. As the wrestlers appear and strut down the aisle, the crowd, mostly young, working-class males, knows by heart the long list of vendettas and betrayals being carried into the ring. The matches are always acts of retribution for 11 a host of elaborate and fictional wrongs. The narratives of emotional wreckage reflected in the wrestlers’ stage biographies mirror the emotional wreckage of the fans. This is the deep appeal of professional wrestling. It is the appeal of much of popular culture, from Jerry Springer to “reality” television to Oprah Winfrey. The narratives expose the anxiety that we will die and never be recognized or acclaimed, that we will never be wealthy, that we are not among the chosen but remain part of the vast, anonymous masses. The ringside sagas are designed to reassure us. They hold out the hope that we, humble and unsung as these celebrities once were, will eventually be blessed with grace and fortune. The success of professional wrestling, like most of the entertainment that envelops our culture, lies not in fooling us that these stories are real. Rather, it succeeds because we ask to be fooled. We happily pay for the chance to suspend reality. The wrestlers, like all celebrities, become our vicarious selves. They do what we cannot. They rise up from humble origins into a supernatural world of tyrants, divas, and fierce opponents who are huge and rippling with muscles—mythic in their size and power. They face momentous battles and epic struggles. They win great victories. They garner fame and vanquish their anonymity. And they return to befriend and confer some of their supernatural power on us. It is the stuff of classical myths, including the narrative of Jesus Christ. It is the yearning that life conform to a recognizable pattern and provide ultimate fulfillment before death. “For the truth is,” wrote José Ortega y Gasset, “that life on the face of it is a chaos in which one finds oneself lost. 12 The individual suspects as much but is terrified to encounter this frightening reality face to face, and so attempts to conceal it by drawing a curtain of fantasy over it, behind which he can make believe that everything is clear.”3 Clashes in the professional wrestling ring from the 1950s to the 1980s hinged on a different narrative. The battle against the evil of communism and crude, racial stereotypes stoked the crowd. The bouts, which my grandfather religiously watched on Saturday afternoons, were raw, unvarnished expressions of the prejudices of the white working class from which he came. They appealed to nationalism and a dislike and distrust of all who were racially, ethnically, or religiously different. During these matches, some of which I watched as a boy, there was usually some huge hulk of a man, known invariably as “The Russian Bear,” who would say things like “Ve vill bury you.” Nikolai Volkoff, who wrestled during these years under the name Boris Breznikoff, used to sing the Soviet National Anthem and wave the Soviet flag before matches to bait the crowd. He eventually teamed up with an Iranian-born wrestler, Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known as The Iron Sheik. In the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Iron Sheik bragged in the ring about his devotion and friendship with Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iron Sheik was regularly pitted against a wrestler known as Sergeant Slaughter, All-American G. I. During the first Gulf War; the Iron Sheik reinvented himself, as often happens with wrestlers who shed one persona and name for another, as Colonel Mustafa, an Iraqi who was a close confidant of Saddam Hussein. In wrestling, villains were 13 nearly always foreigners. They were people who wanted to destroy “our way of life.” They hated America. They spoke in strange accents and had swarthy skin. But that hatred, once directed outward, has turned inward. Wrestling fans, whose numbers have been swelled by new immigrants and are no longer limited to the white working class, began to come in too many colors. The steady loss of manufacturing jobs and decline in social services meant that blue-collar workers—people like my grandparents—could no longer find jobs that provided a living wage, jobs with benefits, jobs that could support a family. The hulks of empty manufacturing centers began to dot the landscape, including the abandoned mills in Maine, where my family lived. The disparity between the elite, the rich, and the rest of the country grew obscenely. The growing class division and hopelessness triggered a mounting rage toward the elite, as well as a sense of powerlessness. Communities began to crumble. Downtown stores went out of business and were boarded up. Domestic abuse and drug and alcohol addiction began to plague working-class neighborhoods and towns. The story line in professional wrestling evolved to fit the new era. It began to focus on the petty, cruel, psychological dramas and family dysfunction that come with social breakdown. The enemy became figures like Layfield, those who had everything and lorded it over those who did not. The anger unleashed by the crowd became the anger of people who, like the Heartbreak Kid, felt used, shamed, and trapped. It became the anger of class warfare. Figures such as Layfield—who arrives at professional matches in a giant white limousine with 14 Texan “hook ’em” horns on the hood—are created by wrestling promoters to shove these socia ...
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Tutor Answer

henryprofessor
School: Carnegie Mellon University

Attached.

Hedges’ Logical Argument- Outline
I.

Introduction

Thesis Statement: Hedges' argument that celebrity culture rids society of its moral fabric is
effective because he adequately explains how the attention to appearances, ability to succeed,
and usefulness distract the beleaguered from focusing on wealth distribution, social equality,
equal opportunity, and other forms of social injustice.
II.

Celebrity culture
A. Normalization of appearances and false ‘realities’
B. The emulation of the celebrities

III.

Pervasive corporate influence
A. Shallow entertainment
B. Illusion and living in the spectacle

IV.

Distractions of the beleaguered
A. Meaninglessness of life
B. Growing social inequality
C. Responsibility

V.

Conclusion

Attached.

Hedges’ Logical Argument- Outline
I.

Introduction

Thesis Statement: Hedges' argument that celebrity culture rids society of its moral fabric is
effective because he adequately explains how the attention to appearances, ability to succeed,
and usefulness distract the beleaguered from focusing on wealth distribution, social equality,
equal opportunity, and other forms of social injustice.
II.

Celebrity culture
A. Normalization of appearances and false ‘realities’
B. The emulation of the celebrities

III.

Increased individualism
A. Attention to appearances
B. Focus on success and usefulness

IV.

Distractions of the beleaguered
A. Meaninglessness of life
B. Growing social inequality
C. Responsibility

V.

Conclusion

Attached.

Surname 1
Name
Professor
Course
Date
Hedges’ Argument on Celebrity Culture
Chris Hedges’ text Empire of Illusion dissects many issues in society which the author
feels and believes are illusions. In the first chapter, he starts by analyzing professional wrestling
and reality television. His argument for his thesis that celebrity culture is destructive is
constructed with many anecdotes and critical analysis of their effects on society. However, his
most convincing argument is woven around his effective analysis of causality and logical
arguments. He provides convincing examples which make him convincing and enhance the
effectiveness of his book. Hedges’ argument that celebrity culture rids society of its moral fabric
is effective because he adequately explains how the attention to appearances, ability to succeed,
and usefulness distract the beleaguered from focusing on wealth distribution, social equality, and
equal opportunity.
The chapter mainly looks into celebrity culture which he logically argues is problematic
and rids society of its moral fabric. Celebrity culture is the absorption of people by the lives of
their favorite celebrities, whether real or acted out. The main problem with celebrity culture is
that it encourages indulgence. Sean Redmond, an associate professor of media and
communication, claims that “celebrity culture attempts to turn one into a passionate creature,
ruled by the heart, lost in a sea of desires and desiring wants and needs” (234). This claim
highlights the way this culture can absorb the attention of the enthusiast and hence they are
guided, not by reason, but by desires. This point comes across clearly in Hedges’ argument

Surname 2
through the claim that the culture obscures the line between public and fictional personas (10).
This argument is logical following the claim that celebrity culture is guided by desires and hence
it outlines how the absorption would normalize false realities and emulation of celebrities.
In addition to the argument on celebrity culture, the author shows how individualism is
also adverse by first emphasizing the focus on appearances. Hedges laments about appearances
by giving examples of how deceiving they are and hence makes a valid point against them. For
instance, he claims that “appearances make everything whole… and happiness comes, we are
assured, with how we look and how we present ourselves to others” (Hedges 38). In this
argument, he shows how appearances encourage self-absorption. He goes ahead to give
examples of how celebrities are photographed in expensive clothes and mansions and always
want to look happy. This analysis of appearances is convincing due to the relatable examples of
celebrities and how they behave.
While still on individualism and its illusion, the author presents further examples of how
the portrayal of success as important, as seen with celebrity culture, is misleading. He asserts that
in the culture, the highest achievements are “wealth, sexual conquest, and fame”; Hedges quotes
Sigmund Freud, a renowned pioneer psychologist when explaining the illusion of these aspects
(53). This argument is highly convincing because he quotes an authority and further presents a
logical argument spanning from it. At this stage of the argument, the author shows why success
is destructive since it distracts people from the common good. Overall, his argument on success
is validated by his reference to Sigmund Freud and the logical construction of his argument from
relatable aspects of society.
Besides appearances and success, Hedges correctly identifies the value given to
usefulness and uses an anecdote to explain why it is destructive and degenerating to humanity.

Surname 3
The author tells the story of Amber, a participant in the reality show Survivor and how she
distrusts everyone and is only interested in them as l...

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Anonymous
Tutor went the extra mile to help me with this essay. Citations were a bit shaky but I appreciated how well he handled APA styles and how ok he was to change them even though I didnt specify. Got a B+ which is believable and acceptable.

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