A critical analysis serves as a way for you to examine the different elements of popular culture discussed in this course. For your final written assignment, discuss the media forms you have written about for your previous course portfolio essays. This essay should reflect upon your experience studying each form, and make distinctions as to how each one of them uniquely reflects American popular culture.
Your essay should attempt to answer the following:
- How are all of these forms of media connected through popular culture?
- Is there one form of media that in your opinion is more powerful in affecting its audiences than the others?
- Is there one medium that is more problematic for American culture than the others?
Your thesis should include the answer to one of the questions above, and be the focus of your essay. Evidence of library research is required.
This essay should be 2-3 pages, in APA style, utilizing the college’s library resources. Please include at least one scholarly resource as a minimum in your essay.
Often regarded to as the king of pop, Michael Jackson contribution to the popular culture is immense. In today’s culture, many are still studying the effect that Michael had on the culture. In his very essence, he a cultural symbol being that he was of African American ancestry and at the time the black community in the US was largely marginalized. One of the most pivotal moments in the history of popular culture is when Michael Jackson released the song thriller in the year 1983. It got a lot of airplay from a station like MTV which had just been launched. On you-tube, a video streaming platform, the song has over 150 million views meaning that the cultural impact of the song is still being felt even in today’s world.
There are different elements of the song that are a representation of the popular culture at the time. For instance, the fascination with werewolves, the song says, “there is no escaping the jaws of the alien as they open wide.” Notably, at this time, there were many movies that were centered on the theme of werewolves. Therefore, the song served as a clear representation of what was popular at the time. Another lyric from the song says, “the night creatures call” referring to the werewolves from the song.
Additionally, the werewolf metaphor that was used in the story represents a story of coming to age. In this instance, represented the experimentation phase of adolescents as they begin facing the world. This is shown as the characters in the video that followed started to grow hairs in unexpected places. Therefore, this can be labeled as a turning point for the popular culture as people started experimenting with new ideas.
In the song, there is a reference that says, “Creatures crawl in search of blood. Additionally, the song goes on to say, “The foulest stench is in the air.” Such lyrics are in reference to zombies. In this instance, the popular culture had started being engrossed in the issue of zombies. Hence, the song made a reference to what was popular at the time. It would be of importance to note zombies originated from ancient Haitian voodoo magic (Vondwe, 2014). This shows that popular culture will in many instances borrow from different cultures. This symbolizes the diversity of the popular culture.
Also, the song alludes to a love story between Michael and a girl. In this case, Michael wants to save the girl from the zombies. For example, the song says, “Now it is the time for you and me to cuddle together.” This was popular at the time given that many adolescents were rebelling against older folks and pursued what they wanted in life. Over and above, Michael Jackson’s hit thriller creates a clear depiction of the popular culture at the time.
In conclusion, thriller was released when the US was moving out of the civil rights era. This meant that black folks did not have much equality as compared to the white folks. In this sense, the impact that was left by thriller had huge social implications given that Michael Jackson was black. He was able to use popular culture to break racial barriers by gaining acceptance from the different racial groupings in the US. Additionally, he opened doors for other musicians from the black community to enter the mainstream music industry. As a result, other genres of music such as Hip-Hop started to gain momentum.
Gondwe, G. (2013). Going Beyond the Eye: The Visual and Oral Aesthetics of Michael Jackson from an African Perspective. Visual Communication Quarterly, 20(4), 239-245. doi:10.1080/15551393.2013.852899
Bonanza was one of the popular shows which aired on the NBC channel. The program was first released in 1959, and it lasted for fourteen years. The show is considered as one of the longest western shows to be aired on the NBC channel. The background of the show revolves around one family in particular, the Cartwright family which included the widowed father, Ben Cartwright who has been widowed three times and three sons. Each son has a different mother (Brittenham, 2005).
The eldest son, the architect, is Adam Cartwright. The ranch house is said to be built by the eldest son. The second son is the Eric Cartwright who is also referred to as “Hoss” or the lovable giant. The youngest son is Joseph who is also known as “Little Joe.” Little Joe is portrayed as not only impetuous but also hot-headed. The show also features brief flashbacks which show the different ancestry of the three wives with one of the wives being English, the other, Swedish and the other being French Creole. Other main characters featured in the show include Hop Sing who was not only a Chinese immigrant but was also the family cook, Ray Teal, David Canary, also known as Candy, Will Cartwright, Jamie Hunter, Lou Frizzell, and Tim Matheson. The show which revolves around the Cartwright family was set in the 1860s. The ranch, Ponderosa Ranch, stood near Virginia City. The set of the show was highly western. The show was set during a period where racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry were high on the rise.
The social issues which were being experienced during the time the show was being broadcasted included the unfair treatment of the African-American community, gender inequality, and unemployment. Towards the end of the fifties, the number of people who were suffering from unemployment dropped to about 1.4 million people. In the early sixties, protests were held regarding the treatment of the African American community. There was an increase in the number of Americans who protested that the unfair treatment of the African American individuals should be stopped.
A lot of violence was also experienced in the country because of the protests. Some of the demonstrations demanded the end of the Vietnam War. Other protests which were held, were in support of gender equality which was so lacking during the period.One of the historical events which occurred in the period was the election of the John F. Kennedy which happened back in 1960. However, President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. One other historical event which occurred during the period was the rise of Fidel Castro’s power following the Revolution. Additionally, in the same period, both Alaska and Hawaii became part of the United States of America. The social issues which at the time plagued the country did not affect the broadcasting of the television show. The episodes were entirely consistent due to its high ratings. The show also managed to garner awards. The show was held on a yearly basis following its release in September 1959.
The show did make an impact on popular culture since it addressed various social issues which still existed at the time the show was being broadcasted. In the 1960s, many of the protests held focused on the of the unfair treatment of the African American community. The show managed to provide glimpses of the unfair treatment which was being received by the African American community. In one of the episodes aired in 1964, one of the minor characters, Thomas Bower was helped by the family who helped him to find a place where he can perform. However, Bowers experienced racism and ended up being arrested and treated like a runaway slave (Cantor, 1979).
Additionally, there is one more episode which features one of the main characters, Hoss, trying to protect one African-American family from racism following the Civil War. The show also aired episodes showing the discrimination the Chinese immigrants encountered. The impact of the show at the time and up to now is quite positive since the show did not support racism or the discrimination of both the African American community as well as the Chinese immigrants. The show sought to show the impact of racism on these two ethnicities by addressing the same issues which existed at the time it was being aired (Taylor, 1989).
Brittenham, R. (2005). ” Goodbye, Mr. Hip”: Radical Teaching in 1960s Television. College English, 68(2), 149-167.
Cantor, M. G. (1979). Our days and our nights on TV. Journal of Communication, 29(4), 66-72.
Taylor, E. (1989). Prime-time families: Television culture in post-war America. Univ of California Press.
The Housewife’s Moment Of Truth
The Housewife’s Moment Of Truth is an article that was written by Jane O’Reilly in the year 1971 and posted in the New York Magazine news and politics section (O’Reilly, 1971). The attitude towards women at the moment was one that was suppressive and was viewed mainly as housewives and their role was to take care of the home and the children. This is not only an attitude that was held by men but also women and as such the article, The Housewife’s Moment of Truth was aimed at the liberation of this idea. The New York Magazine was founded by Milton Gaser and Clay Felker and received its funding through the subscriptions from readers. The article created and continues to create cultural relevance by empowering feminism.
The New York Magazine was liberal in its political views and was known to post articles that were widely meant to bring freedom to the masses while sharing ideas that were freely expressed by its writers without limitation by the editors and publishers. In the article, The Housewife’s Moment Of Truth, the political bias was towards the liberation of the woman and inspiring the equal treatment of both men and women, feminism. By sharing the idea of feminism freely, the article raised lots of mixed reactions notably where one husband canceled the subscription to the magazine (O’Reilly, 1971).
The main point of the article is to reveal the hidden oppression of the woman that has blinded many people around. The article used metaphors to speak about feminism where the woman is described to be a snake that is slithering around but she does not have the power to defend herself except by changing color to the various threats that the snake meets. The article continues to describe how there was little attention being given to the snake. This was meant to show how inside the home, despite the important role that the woman plays, there is little attention that is accorded to her and her needs or rather ambitions.
The writer’s main message to her readers was to create awareness about the feminist issue. The writer aimed at creating an awareness of the need for women to have a sisterhood and also recognize the efforts that men were making in ensuring that women were also receiving equal pay at work. According to O’Reilly (1971), she saw herself as a snake slithering around the house where there were panthers enjoying nice meals but not giving any attention to her. She also goes on to add how one lady saw her husband step on some toys yet angrily told the wife to put the toys away. This shows that O’Reilly aimed at creating an awareness of shared responsibility among the man and the woman.
The magazine had an impact on the popular culture at the moment because it brought about the awakening of the woman revolution. This brought about the famous second feminist revolution of the Nixon Era. According to O’Reilly (1971), after the article one husband canceled the subscription to the magazine sighting that he did not agree with her views. The wife immediately wrote saying that she will not be canceling the subscription. This proves that the writer managed to manipulate the culture by creating a unity among women in what can be referred to as sisterhood.
O’Reilly, J. (1971). The Housewife’s Moment Of Truth. New York Mag. Available at
Globalization can be referred to as the integration process of people, businesses and governments around the world. Communications, technology and capital movements have a global reach to facilitate the values of connectivity like information sharing, cultural and political exchanges and personal connections. The most visible driving force of globalization is the internet; it has revolutionized how people communicate, work, seek knowledge and information as well as brought different people and cultures closer. The internet provides a platform where people around the world, miles apart, can share information. On a cultural level, the internet facilitates access to cultural aspects from diverse populations while politically, the internet allows government alliances as well as sharing useful developmental information (Borcuch, Piłat-Borcuch, & Świerczyńska-Kaczor, 2014). Internet tools play significant roles in enhancing the globalization process. As an internet tool, the national geographic website dedicated to exploring and bringing together science, history, and geography and world cultures greatly enhance the connectivity value of the globalization process.
Cultural values reflected on the website
The National Geographic website enhance cultural values of different societies around the globe by regularly publishing articles dedicated to various cultural aspects of different communities. The website explores and reports on different dress codes, food cultures, traditions and stories on unrecognized communities to increase cultural awareness of its readers and followers. For example, the article on cultural fashions (Rizzo, 2017) explores fashion statements, bead ornaments, head wraps among others across different communities in Africa, Asia and America to limelight cultural aspects of some of the least known communities around the world.
Moreover, National geographic website extends on the connectivity value of globalization through its culturally responsible geo-tourism. The site is aimed at exploring and informing on different geographical characters to motivate and enhance the travelling interest, increase global travellers to make destinations around the world more globalized (National geographic, n.d). The site ensures every content published/posted online uphold and respect the local’s sensibilities and impact by building on the local heritage of the community where the information is gathered. By so doing, the website exercises promotes and encouraged cultural sensitivity around the world owing to its global audience.
Political values reflected on the website
The National Geographic website does not dwell a lot on political issues. However, a particular report by Nick Romeo claims that geography influenced and continues to shape American history, law and politics (Romeo, 2015). The article suggests that “red” and “blue” states correlate strongly with geographical factors. The author claims that American is still living through the effects and notions inflicted by the Civil War which instigates the North and South into different political climate zones. As a result, the two regions have been observed to vote for various presidential candidates in national politics, a pattern that is bound to continue in the future.
From a close examination, the national geographic website political disposition seems biased. American is a liberal society, the slavery issues observed during the civil war era are far gone. While the effects of slavery and racial discrimination are still a top priority issue in the nation, this alone cannot be used to classify the political orientation of the residents of either the North or South. People vote for a candidate whose ideas align and appease an individual rather than conforming to historical dispositions of the “red” and “blue” party affiliations.
On another note, the cultural awareness and sensitivity values are distinctly American as they reflect the American value of equality (Beane, n.d). Americans uphold the idea that everyone is equal despite their diverse background, status and cultures and should be treated with respect. National geographic treats people of different culture equally by publishing stories that appreciate cultural diversity.
Beane, M. (n.d). An Adventure in American Culture & Values. Retrieved from www.internationalstudentguidetotheusa.com: http://www.internationalstudentguidetotheusa.com/a…
Borcuch, A., Piłat-Borcuch, M., & Świerczyńska-Kaczor, U. (2014). The Influence of the Internet on globalization process. Journal of Economics and Business Research, 18(1), 118-129.
National Geographic. (n.d). About Geotourism. Retrieved from www.nationalgeographic.com: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/maps/geotourism…
Rizzo, J. (2017, February 16). Striking Photos of Cultural Fashions You Have to See. Retrieved from relay.nationalgeographic.com: https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distrib…
Romeo, N. (2015, May 3). How Geography Shaped American History, Law and Politics. Retrieved from relay.nationalgeographic.com: https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distrib…