Assess the effects of mass media on popular culture.
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Assess the effect of mass media on popular culture Popular culture is defined as social and cultural products that are there as a form of entertainment and for use by the mass culture, and are commonly short lived and acknowledged to hold little artistic value, such as movies or pop music. Alternatively, high culture is something that is considered unique, and different to everyday life. It is usually aimed at the upper and middle class, and is commonly approved of by the intellectual elite. Furthermore it usually takes place in environments that are significant in high class culture, such as the theatre. There are several different arguments as to how the mass media has affected popular culture, for example Marxists argue that popular culture is the bourgeoisie's way of dumbing down the proletariat, and thus controlling them. By promoting the false ideologies that popular culture bases itself off, such as owning an iPod, the proletariat are distracted from the poor working conditions and the exploitation that they are facing. Furthermore, Marxists also argue that the working class experience "false class consciousness", meaning that they have come to believe that the capitalist system is a fair one that can benefits everyone equally, because the lower class are also able to obtain these false needs.
However, postmodernists argue that the distinction between high culture and popular culture has now become blurred, due to the effects of globalisation, which they argue is beneficial due to it being primarily responsible for the diffusing of different lifestyles and cultures around the world, which in turn has created global hybrid styles un fashion, music etc. They argue that due to the advancement in technologies such as social networking, any culture is now available to anyone. People no longer need to visit special places to access high culture, for example people can now download classic books for free, or purchase Arthouse films on DVD. It is debated that in the postmodernist global world pluralism and cultural diversity will eventually become the global norm. This shows that the mass media is in fact creating hybrid cultures, so it can be argued that in the near future pure popular culture may not even exist, instead it may form a hybrid with high culture, which more people will be able to relate to. Additionally, postmodernists also argue that the global media culture has increased consumer choice.
Kellner (1999) claims that the global media culture is all about sameness, and the individuality of some cultures is erased in the process. However, post modernists disagree with this approach, they claim that the global media if s benefit for both developed and undeveloped societies because it offers wide range of choices and opportunities. They also argue that smaller cultures are not swallowed up by the global media, rather they adapt to it. For example Bollywood films are produced by local film industry that is organised around both Hollywood and Indian entertainment values. This suggests that the global media culture does not change cultures for the worst, but instead they adapt to modern techniques so that they may express their values using modern technologies. In conclusion, it is clear that the mass media does have an effect on popular cultures; however it can be argued that they are not changed for the better. Instead local cultures are engulfed by Western (American) values, and in turn, eventually forget their own. Alfie West 10th September 2011
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