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INTRODUCTION:

As it may be salient to many observant individuals that western society, most notably American society is on a steady decline. It has been noted for decades the decline in the quality of the American education system, standard of living, the American economy, and even in regards to basic decorum. I do not want to sound like the dark profit brings to light all the flaws of American society nor do I want to necessarily attribute blame in one specific area. Even if I felt like there were a few root causes of this treacherous downward spiral, it would be difficult to prove they are attributing to the demise of American society with absolute confidence. However, I believe we can all come to the consensus that there is a grave issue when we have our young adults in society ingesting Tide Pods for notoriety on social media. Just from anecdotal observations of people in general, while I am far from a genius, the “dumbing-down” of America is glaringly evident. Just watch the videos where Youtube personality and conspiracy theorist, Mark Dice, walks the boardwalks of Southern California asking people basic questions in regards to American history, current events, politics, etc.

 

For the record, I do not profess to be particularly intelligent, so I do understand that I am at risk of ” throwing stones in a glasshouse”. Seriously, note all the grammatical errors I make in my blog posts. However, I am the only one that is overwhelmed with trepidation when confronted with the reality that our general population is more concerned with the exploits of Kim Kardashian than the U.S. economy? It feels as if we are so preoccupied with the distractions and frivolity that we have completely lost track of what is truly important.  Now living in a free society we have a choice of what kind of books, publications, websites, and other forms of media we chose to consume. I personally feel that far too often people chose to engross themselves in trappings of mindless pop-culture versus attempting to educate themselves or self-improvement. I understand that is a form of escapism, however, you cannot isolate yourself from reality and there not be any negative repercussions. The lack of common knowledge and lack of intellectual curiosity is all too common in this current era in time could be reasonably attributed to our cultural fixation with pop-culture. However, I do not want to make an erroneous over-generalizations, but this is merely a theory. We should not underestimate the pitfalls of our self-induced complacency, keep in mind every great society has its fall from grace. From the Ancient Romans to the British Empire, the laws of gravity apply. Particularly with the Roman Empire, the excesses of orgies, wine, and unadulterated gluttony sealed their fate. While the excesses of contemporary American society due differ from those of the Roman Empire, they are still distractions that can lead to our downfall. I feel that the below quote from  British  historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee really expresses this point well:

“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” [1]

 

ARTICLE:

 

Now the article from  Psychology Today was published back in 2009, it is a little dated, however, it is just as applicable today as it was nine years ago.  The article: Popular Culture: We are What We Consume, certainly points to the detrimental effects of pop-culture on society. In the article, Dr. Jim Taylor defines “real” culture as being as “an expression of our collective experiences”. Instead of being reflective of our genuine collective experiences, the majority of popular culture is produced by corporations to make us into impulsive consumers. Most of the “must-have” items and media content was not demanded by consumers but rather marketed in a manner to persuade the consumer that the product or media programming is essential. For example, Facebook anticipated consumer needs prior to the demand and was marketed as an essential social media platform. Considering that these derivations of popular culture do not reflect our actual experiences, Taylor refers to it as “synth culture”, synth as in synthetic or fabricated. While we find pop-culture as engaging, it’s analogous to eating junk food, just on a cognitive level.  Most of the advertisements for products are merely pushing us to buy products by presenting a distortion of reality.  Most media programming in the pop-culture realm does not emphasize good morals or attributes, but rather the negative aspects of humanity. For example, reality television displays people behaving badly.  Glamorizing lust, deception, confrontation, just to name a few of the negative values that such programming presents to the viewer. While pop-culture that reflects our collective experience tends to reinforce positive values such as social cohesiveness versus lust, greed, etc. [2]

DISCUSSION:

 

The article referenced above certainly illustrates how popular culture has been manipulated by corporations to conform to a marketing plan. It also certainly illustrates the negative impact of pop-culture in regards due to the negative values that it instills in us and we internalize as a society. It certainly is appropriate to parallel pop-culture to food, because much like food and tangible products we are consumers of pop-culture. Part of it has to do with the intermarrying of popular culture with consumer culture and elaborate marketing fixated on everything from traditional consumer products to social media platforms to traditional media such as television programs. However, another aspect of this phenomenon is the fact that when we consume culture either consciously or subconsciously we integrate the culture we consume into our thoughts and values. To a certain extent, we allow it to influence us. While someone may choose to watch a documentary to become more educated may be a cultural consumer conscious of the impact, they are equally as impacted by the culture they consume as the individual who passively watches reality television and is unconsciously integrating the negative behaviors exhibited in that specific type of programming.

The fact that the technical name for a T.V. show is a “program” is quite intriguing if you really think about it. I have heard many individuals in the New Age movement reflect upon this fact. So just for the sake of transparency this far from a unique thought. It is slightly conspiratorial, which is something I personally try to avoid. However, particularly  Ralphie Smart, psychologist, life coach, and founder of the New Age Youtube channel Infinite Waterstouches upon this topic in a sufficient manner. Smart asserts that since we consume media, it influences us in the same way that food does when we ingest it. So he analyzed the fact that it is referred to as a television program. A program as in the T.V. show is trying to convey a message or set of values to us, as in how you program a computer. It certainly is an interesting premise to grapple with, however, I can see how a skeptic would think it veers into tinfoil hat territory. However, when you think about the negative impact of the messages conveyed in our T.V. shows, social media, movies, etc and the downward trajectory of society is it really that outlandish? It is hard to say, however, it is certainly an interesting concept to explore.

2 thoughts on “A CRITIQUE OF POP-CULTURE

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