Pop Culture Essay

819 words - 4 pages

American popular culture is quite serious because we find the “voices” that write, play, film, photograph, dance and explain our American history. George Lipitz notes that historians can learn a lot about the process of identity and memory in the past and present by deciphering the messages contained in popular culture forms such as films, television and music. As stated by George Lipsitz, people can either work for the economy and state, and against the population who take in the messages or they can work in a positive way as memories of the past and hopes for the future.
In the 1930s-1950s, we saw people who were culture brokers. Culture brokers are defined as “the act of inking or mediating between groups or persons of differing cultural backgrounds for the purpose of reducing conflict or producing change”. This was seen as some of the "best work" of the economy and state because culture brokers simply buy and sell things to make a profit. We see the transformation of folk forms, such as the blues into popular commercialized music and this offers a way to fight with the questions of authenticity in popular culture and how music has been collected and sold by culture brokers. A historian, John Storey, writes about how working in Europe and the United States created and defined popular culture as a "mass culture", the commercialized forms used by the urban, working class. The folk represented examples of authentic and immutable American culture. Mass culture on the other hand, was subject to the market, changed with technologies and audiences and aimed at the masses. In the 1930s, some folklorists became commercial promoters of folk music as part of the "cult of authenticity". As broadcast radio matured, it offered new venues for music and a new mass market for roots and country music.
An American folk and blues musician, Lead Belly was known for his 12 string guitar and strong vocals. He makes songs out of the day-to-day life of his people. He sings of death, work of balked love, Southern jails no better than hell-holes, of chain gangs, segregations and his hope for a better life. John Lomax and Lead Belly did much traveling and gathered folk songs which were later compiled into a book. Lead Belly was represented in Newspapers, Time Magazines and put on several shows which made good money. Lead Belly inspired such excitement in the Lomaxes...

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