I would like to agree with the phrase by a popular American blogger that Popular culture is simply an expression of our collective experiences. This opinion may seem to insinuate that popular culture is of great advantage to the American society, but this is not the real case. In the last century, this was certainly true as this was the only means by which people dealt with social problems that ailed the society.
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Looking at the turn that popular culture has taken due to rise in color television, internet and different forms of media, it would be true to say we have plunged into a deep sea without life jackets as American society.
Popular culture can be defined as the accumulation of cultural products like music, art, film, dance, film, television, literature or even radio that are consumed by the majority of the masses. Oftenly popular culture is of many appeals to the larger society. This term is believed to have been used as early as the 10th century. In the past, popular culture was associated with the poor and the lowly in the society, but today almost all Americans are highly immersed in popular culture.
After the world war II, mass media innovations led to major social and cultural changes, and since then the meaning of popular culture has since merged with other elements such as mass culture, consumer culture media culture and image culture and are all geared towards mass consumption. In this essay, I shall be discussing the effects of modern popular culture on American society and the need for change for the better.
There are two antagonistic sociological arguments relating to modern American pop culture. The first argument is that popular culture is used by the rich and elite in the society to control those who are below them as it blurs their minds and reasoning, therefore, becoming passive and thus easier to control. The second argument is that popular culture is a vehicle in which people rebel against the culture of oppression. I agree with both the arguments but the first argument carries more weight when looking at the current American trends on American consumerism.
Popular culture has made Americans have less time to do the most important things such as paying bills, spending time with loved ones, taking care of our own health or bettering ourselves physically, intellectually or spiritually. It is quite ironic that we lack time to carry out important activities but have time to watch television, and movies, playing video games surfing the net and reading celebrity magazines. Many Americans are maddeningly preoccupied with celebrity lives and people who are of less importance in our lives. I always wonder what fascinates Americans about the rich and famous people. Some people have argued that is due to boredom, but I think it is something that is something troubling. We seem to search for meaning all in the wrong places. With the economic pressure, crimes, endless wars in which many Americans have died in and toxic political system that feeds the masses with negativity on the news and talk shows have left many hopeless and contributing to this escapism into celebrity lives. Instead of looking into nourishing our souls we are seeking to temporarily anesthetize ourselves from the reality.
Popular culture has affected the way people view body image and what is acceptable. Media decides how pretty should look like. Many people have been left wondering and confused by what choices to make. Growing up and you do not look like the faces advertised on television commercials then you have a problem of being bullied and made fun of. With this kind of exposure, a child grows up with low self-esteem and self-loathing. Research shows that popular culture has a great impact on teenagers. Popular culture can provide a benchmark in which teenagers spin their definition. This can be by taking characteristics from various celebrities and stimuli they see in Popular culture. Self-definition is intrinsically tied to self-esteem and confidence and if tampered with, can surely last through maturation to adulthood.
Over the last ten years, households with televisions have increased drastically, these televisions have more than one thousand channels and hundreds of shows to choose from. Thes TV shows have really impacted our daily lives and we continue to keep up with the episodes. The impact has really been eminent on the younger American generation especially due to the violence, drugs, and sexual references. Young children are exposed to mature content at a very tender age. For example, in 2009 a seventeen-year boy killed his ten years old brother. When interviewed, the teenager said he was relating to Dexter. Dexter is a TV show on Showtime about a boy who is blood crazed. TV shows like Dexter are encouraging violence among young people.
Over-sexualization of women in various music genres and Hollywood movies is of negative impact on women. For example, Nicki Minaj songs mostly portray women who have big boobs and backsides, this has influenced many women to think that the standards of beauty are having big boobs and backsides, some have even gone to an extent of going through plastic surgery. Some of these procedures are life-threatening and their effects are long-lasting and irreversible. Hollywood on the other side view women’s beauty standards as being thin is being beautiful. Women strive too hard to fit these standards and therefore eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and others have been on the rise.
Pop culture, especially in the form of visual media, greatly affects our opinions and attitudes towards race and racial minority groups. Our assumption about a particular race is greatly influenced by the stereotypical and distorted imagery presented by visual media. Media creates an imbalance between the black and the white American societies, this makes the young black people accept minority status as the real deal and the only acceptable thing. Research has also proven that millions of Americans form their opinions on the black population in America based on Hollywood films and TV shows and also dehumanizing programming and sensationalized crime reported in news.
Newsreaders such as Glenn Beck and BillO’Reilly were found to be spreading false information about black families and many New York City-based TV newsrooms have been for the longest time inaccurately over associate black people with the crime by 75%. These media outlets have also for the longest time portrayed Blacks as poor without considering the resiliency of these families in the face of discrimination.
Before, popular culture used to reflect our values as American people but today it is a voracious beast of materialism, celebrity, and excess that shape our values to greed for the benefit of a few as majority lose themselves. Many heroes who have been elevated have nothing heroic about them, these people represent unhealthy values, rituals, beliefs and myths that are tailored to satisfy their own interest. Popular culture is present everywhere, intense and unrelenting, and people have free and unlimited access to them through the internet and every social media. Pop culture is like saboteurs that infiltrate the family slowly and with deception hiding behind a veil of bright images, fun movies, and music, advertisements entertaining characters. popular culture overwhelms us with the messages in order to gain control of us up to a point we base our choices, needs, interests, and dreams upon them without giving them much thought.
I may come across as military against popular culture, but I also believe that it can be a wonderful aspect of entertainment, escapism, and knowledge. Whether popular culture is bad or good all depends on the message it is sending across to the larger population. Almost all the time, these messages are negative and impact our wellbeing negatively without us realizing.
Popular culture that is of true expression shared social experiences and values is beneficial to a society and is of importance in forming and growing a healthy society. A rule of thumb, authentic pop culture acts as a societal truth and as a shared glue that binds a society together. Positive popular culture instills a sense of ownership and empowerment in a society as every individual is aware of their contribution to society.
When we consider societies whose popular culture was suffocated like those under Hitler and Mussolini we can be able to see deeply injured populations that have taken years to rise and recover from the societal damage and reestablish their popular culture and stabilize.It is sad that some societies are yet to experience authentic popular culture such as North Korea. When we consider all the strides we have made as people of America, we ought to fight as a society to restore our authentic popular culture and work hard to eradicate the negative popular culture that has flooded our society with negativity. This is both at the individual level and as a whole society.
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