Culture And Media. Thoughts On Pop. Culture In The U.S.

4276 words - 17 pages

Popular CulturePopular culture is defined here as popular written literature and broadcasting,popular music, consumer products (everything from trash compacters tovideo games, from cars to religious videos), popular dance and theater, videogames, certain decorative arts, sports and recreation, and other culturalaspects of social life distinguished by their broad-based presence acrossethnic, social, and regional groupings.For students of popular culture, books and magazines are important, as aremusic and recorded sound, television and radio broadcasts, prints andphotographs, motion pictures, newspapers, and a variety of artifacts andarchives.The study of popular culture reveals American political patterns, of whydominant hegemonic forms of culture often oppose/cause cultures ofresistance, those of marginalized races, gender discrepancies, and youthaspects of culture. It would interesting to understand and discuss thepolitics involved in the production and consumption of popular culture.We Aren't the WorldAmerican culture is not dominating the globe.In the mid-1990s, the well- known French filmmaker Claude Berri warnedthat without protection from American cultural exports, "European culture isfinished." He had plenty of pessimistic company. In that era, French CultureMinister Jack Lang spoke in terms of America's irrepressible "culturalimperialism." The popularity of a work like Jurassic Park was identified as a"threat" to others' "national identity." Strict programming quotas wereenacted to prevent U.S.-made TV shows from overwhelming foreign primetime.Meanwhile, scholars such as Herbert Schiller had worked out theoriesexplaining how the American political empire was founded on its expandingcommunications empire, and critics such as Ariel Dorfman were busypublicizing the poisonous imperialistic messages buried in the adventures ofsuch despoilers as Donald Duck.Today, similar jeremiads are blowing as strong as ever: The leading prophetof cultural doom these days is Benjamin R. Barber, an academic growinghoarse as he warns against the dull global "monoculture" he thinks is beingimposed by American capitalism. (See "Tempest in a Coffeepot," January.)But mounting evidence suggests that all this fulmination has been entirelypointless, and that cultural pessimists have been as clueless about theprocesses shaping the world as were their social, economic, and politicalforebears.In January, for example, The New York Times ran a front-page storyreporting that exported American TV programs had largely lost their appealfor overseas audiences. According to the Times, these shows "increasinglyoccupy fringe time slots on foreign networks," leaving the prime-time hoursto locally made shows."Given the choice," wrote London-based reporter Suzanne Kapner, "foreignviewers often prefer homegrown shows that better reflect local tastes,cultures and historical events." The problem, it turns out, is that manyforeign broadcasters had not been giving their viewers much...

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