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Lesson 15 - Defending Pop Culture


Lesson 15 - Defending Pop Culture Robert Wonser Feministic Implications Popular culture was instrumental in opening new avenues for women The Show Must Go On ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Lesson 15 - Defending Pop Culture

Lesson 15 - Defending Pop Culture
  • Robert Wonser

Feministic Implications
  • Popular culture was instrumental in opening new
    avenues for women

The Show Must Go On ... And Feminism
  • Subtext of the movie Chicago, the vaudevillian
    stage has empowered females to metaphorically
    kill their controlling men. Similar themes in
    Thelma and Louise
  • Do you agree?
  • Pop culture's show must go on, or else we risk
    resorting to an era of prohibition and fanatical
    right-wing authoritarianism.
  • Does the power of females sexuality work even
    better when society tries to prohibit it?
  • Are the images of women in erotic movies and
    pin-ups empowering of femininity?
  • Were the early feminists that decreed ads, erotic
    spectacles and the like were the sexual
    objectification of women (a bad thing) really an
    attempt by puritan-minded, middle-class, White,
    American female intellectuals to control all
    women, not free them?

Digital Divide Worldwide
Vs Population Density Worldwide
The Internet and Democracy
  • Despite the digital divide, the internet is about
    the only challenge to the hegemonic culture
    industry available.
  • North America and Europe concentrate the two
    largest groups of Internet assets with a total
    share of 22.5 for Europe and doubling this
    number 55.9 for North America.
  • Therefore it can be said that both regions
    represent a total 77.4 of the global Internet
    structure having Asia being the next one in the
    list with a share of 14.
  • In the meantime who controls the internet?
  • Though, this is still not settled (net

The Movie Theater
  • Throughout the first 80 years of its existence,
    the movie form was experienced as a communal
    event, inside a movie theater, complete with
    intermissions, food fare, etc.
  • Every urban corner was bound to have a movie
    theater often central attraction of that part of
  • Changed in the late 1980s ? VCR technology
    threatened to make the movie watching experience
    a more individualistic one and eventually lead to
    the elimination of the movie theater.
  • This, and cable TV threatened the monopoly held
    by the movie industry, ? the same panic ensued
    that occurred when television came to compete
    with film in the 1950s.
  • As a result film companies favored large
    spectacles with fantastic special effects to lure
    the public away from home videos and back into
    the theater.
  • Despite all this, the traditional movie theater
    has remained as popular as ever.
  • DVDs actually stimulated more interest in movies
    (how many times have you bought the new special
    edition super fantastic extra bonus features
    2-disc collectors edition of a movie you already
  • DVDs too are further entrenching movie-watching
    in social life, not replacing it.
  • Threat is now from cyberspace and new electronic
  • Advance sale of ancillaries (DVD rights and other
    media rights) are sold off before the movie is
    released in order to finance smaller budget films
  • Movie theaters are resilientbecoming more and
    more a part of the overall pop culture experience
  • To emphasize their entertainment function,
    megaplexes even offer other functions fast food,
    arcades, etc.
  • The movie theater has become a variety show

Video Culture
  • Video presented a revolutionary way of relating
    to movies.
  • Being at a movie theater is a social act.
  • Have you ever noticed movies are funnier in the
    theater with an audience and scarier with an
  • Sony introduced Beta in 1970s and RCA introduced
    VHS with clever marketing.
  • Studios once again panicked over the new
    technology, but they forgot the social
    componentbeing in a movie theater with a real
    audience is part of the communal effect that
    cinema intended to create.
  • Ex Think about midnight showings of old movies.

Video Games and the Sleeper Curve
  • Immersion in a simulated world that resembles the
    real world
  • Ex the Wii
  • The division between the imaginary and the real
    is becoming blurred.
  • As Steven Johnson claims, video games provide a
    locus for the same kind of rigorous mental
    workout required for mathematical theorems and
  • Improve abstract problem-solving skills
  • Video games are actually making us sharper and
    smarter than any other point in the history of
  • The Sleeper Curve in general applies to pop
    culture the most apparently debasing forms of
    mass diversion turn out to be nutritional after
  • We are a problem-solving species hence the
    addictive power of video games.
  • Ex that point of frustration playing a video
    game where youve been stuck in the same spot for
    an hour and refuse to Google the solution
  • Whether or not pop culture does improve cognition
    it is still fun.
  • It also promotes the carnivalesque (and fun)
    aspects of our existence.

The Sleeper Curve
  • Johnson derives the term Sleeper Curve from the
    Woody Allen film Sleeper in order to draw a
    comparison between the "scientists from 2173
    who are astounded that twentieth-century
    society failed to grasp the nutritional merits of
    cream pies and hot fudge" and the current
    perception that popular culture is "locked in a
    spiral drive of deteriorating standards".
  • The Sleeper Curve serves to "undermine the belief
    that . . . pop culture is on a race to the
    bottom, where the cheapest thrill wins out every
    time", and is instead "getting more mentally
    challenging as the medium evolves".

Sleeper Curve
  • storyline complexity has increased dramatically
    and even the best shows from 20 years ago would
    be regarded as quite primitive were they to air
    today (compare Dragnet to The Sopranos)
  • multiple threading
  • Decline in flashing arrows (a metaphorical
    audiovisual cue used in movies to bring some
    object or situation that will be referred later,
    or otherwise used in the advancement of plot, to
    the attention of the viewers.)

  • TV has changed the shape of the general world
  • Surveys even show that people spend more time in
    font of the TV than they do working.
  • ? TV is bringing out a decline in reading ?
    leading to the decline in the nation-state
    (because ideas cross national boundaries through
  • Does TV also induce an insatiable appetite for
    entertainment as some critics suggest? ? this
    basic view is that people imitate television ? TV
    violence breeds real life violence vulgarity on
    TV brings increased vulgarity in society.
  • If not, then what are the real causes and what
    does scapegoating TV do for the real causes?

  • Marshall McLuhan ? TV has an impact far greater
    than that of the material communicated.
  • TV is a representational system that blends the
    imaginary and real. Does this also mean that we
    cant tell them apart?
  • But TV is no more responsible for societys
    problems than are any other contemporary social
    texts, including religious ones.
  • TVs effects are the same effects of pop culture
    generally TV influences how we see people and
    how we respond to eventsjust as newspapers and
    radio did in the past and before them village
  • TV is a target because it is so prevalent and an
    easy scapegoat. It is much easier to see Beavis
    and Butthead or South Park than it is to see
    poverty, a culture of violence, poorly funded
    schools and poor policy decisions far-reaching
    effects as negatively impacting society.
  • Moreover TV has the ability to reflect back at us
    our changing times (our zeitgeist) ? this often
    scares us and we can easily mistake the mirror as
    the cause of the changes rather then as a
    reflection of the changes themselves.

Flawed Logic of Media Phobia
  • The explanation that media create a culture of
    violence is tantalizing but it diverts us from
    delving into deeper questions, about how young
    people in overgrown, albeit well-funded, learning
    institutions may feel alienated and turn to
    violence, it fails to help us understand the
    connection between media culture and politics and
  • Why do we use violence as a method for solving
    problems on a national and individual level
  • Why boys are taught to save face at any cost, to
    be tough and never vulnerable

The Real Big Bad Wolves
  • The most pressing crisis facing American children
    today is not media culture but poverty.
  • Nearly 12 million children (approx. 16 of
    children under the age of 18) live in poverty a
    rate two to three times higher than that in other
    industrialized countries.
  • 14 of children have no health coverage
  • In 1999, over 1,000 children were killed by their
    parents compared with 35 killed in school during
    the school year.
  • The media have come to symbolize society and
    present a clear picture of both social changes
    and social problems.
  • Changes in media technologies are easier to see
    than the complex host of economic, political, and
    social changes Americans have experienced in the
    past few decades.
  • Graphic video games are more visible and easier
    to target than changes in public policies we hear
    little about.
  • What lies behind our fear of pop culture is
    anxiety about an uncertain future
  • This fear has been deflected onto children,
    symbolic of the future, and onto media, symbolic
    of contemporary society.

Ok, sometimes it is the Media
  • The news are guilty of peddling fascination
    rather than information
  • Stereotypical images persist of women as sexual
    objects, narrow portrayals of racial, ethnic and
    religious minority group members.
  • Limited or absent representations of the elderly,
    the plus-sized, Asian Americans, Latinos.

Changing Times
  • 9/11
  • Increased necessity for two incomes in order to
    maintains a middle-class lifestyle ? reshaped
    family life
  • Increased opportunities for women
  • Deindustrialization and the rise of the
    information-based economy have left the poorest
    and least-skilled workers behind and eroded job
    security for middle-class.
  • These changes have made supervision of children
    more of a challenge for adults who are now
    working longer hours
  • The separation of people by age since the
    Industrial Revolution (jobs, not farms, schools,
  • Uncertainty about the future leads to fears and

Popular Culture
  • Has and consistently pushes thresholds
  • Propels society forward.
  • Remember Durkheims point? We need to know where
    the line is, we need deviance, we need norm
    breaking in our culture.
  • It releases repressed desires in healthy ways
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