Archivo de la categoría: Popular culture

57 states

The amateur video of the day is actually annoying, but it includes a compilation on lots of popular culture material (specially for americans, you know, from the United States?). I think it’s kinda scary too. You’ll see why.

Deja un comentario

Archivado bajo Popular culture, youtube

Power, daily life, articulation and agency

The third chapter of the book talks about Power and the daily life. According to Grossberg, power operates vertically, as the dominant groups use culture to organize subordinate populations from above. I’ve mentioned a few examples of this situation in older posts, but  I can provide new ones, like the use of propaganda in movies and cartoons during the World War II to increase a sense of nationalism and unity inside the United States.

“Cultural texts embody, communicate and hence reproduce – either through what they say or through what they don’t say – the dominant ideologies which reflect and reproduce relations of power existing outside the texts.” (p. 91)

So we are all dominated by manipulative cultural practices, but that doesn’t mean we can’t interpret texts in order to reject or embrace them as our own.  People can be both empowered and disempowered. The example the author uses is women living in sexist societies, in which they may also be empowered to discover new relations to their own bodies and identities, as portrayed in new media (Sex and the City). However, this opportunity to be “in control” doesn’t change the fact that women were driven to third way feminism because they live ruled by men and men’s desires.

As for chapter 4, I found a really interesting statement about humanity. According to Grossberg, it is the product of social practices which define what it means to be human. There is always a human nature, but it is different in different social formations, in different historical periods. It’s real, but not universal or transcendent.

Then, I bumped into the concept of interpellation, which is to place individuals at particular sites. So I’m being interpellated when the government tells me I’m a citizen, when the university tells me I’m a student, when the media tells me I’m a consumer, when the society tells me I’m a young woman, and so on. All these contradictory interpellations determine my individuality and many times, I get confused (I’m putting myself as an example, but I really mean all people) stressed and depressed, because there are so many different demands that becomes overwhelming. All together, this is an example of articulation, for it shows the many stages that conform me, and even when they are different, they’re within the same individual.

We don’t have the freedom to scape our historical context. People make history but people are also determined by it.

Now, the concept of agency is close to the concept of “tendential forces”, which represent a movement and a direction which appears to be independent of the desires or intentions of any and even possibly all social groups. Capitalism, industrialism, technology, democracy, nationalism, religion, all are examples of such forces. They do not exist independently of or in some opposition to individuals. No group controls their direction, but it’s a common belief that technology will give us control of forces and hence, the future.

History has proved us wrong, but I suppose we can wait and see if this time is any different.

1 comentario

Archivado bajo History, Popular culture

They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard!

My first post on amateur videos, and it’s a really geeky one.

I’m a big fan of Lord of the Rings so I find this video funny and creative. This is the first one created before people started sampling their favorite movies, like 300 and Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Deja un comentario

Archivado bajo Popular culture, youtube

We gotta get out of this place!

In the second chapter of  “We gotta get out of this place”, Lawrence Grossberg talks about articulation (articulation of popular culture and rock, more specifically) which is the process that brings elements from different backgrounds together, so they can create a new one, with its own context and characteristics.

“A cultural formation is articulated into and functions within different contexts of daily life. Such articulations create a series of alliances, each representing a particular selective appropriation of the formation itself.” (p. 71)

Perfect housewifeSo the way culture is articulated is always connected with the effects such culture has on its members and components. For example, the domestic relationships are closely related to the mode of production they were created in. A capitalist society derived in consumerist practices, perfect housewives and a happy family kind of thing. The more specialized work is, the more specialized domestic architecture is. Domestic life is an articulation of the work place, so these two elements affect each other inevitably and constantly. 

Now, what makes popular culture popular? To answer to this question, the author uses the concept of intelligentsia, that is described as the dominated fraction of the dominant class. Popular culture is not restricted to one class, it exists within a complex series of terms and oppositions which are linked together in different ways. It is clear that popular culture is out there, but it’s not the same for everybody, and that depends on the background of each individual. 

different-versions-of-the-mona-lisaGrossberg talks about texts (as cultural practices or symbolical forms) and how they can move in and out of popular culture, and even more important, how they can exist simultaneously in different categories: high and popular culture. For example, the Monalisa is one of the most famous paintings on this planet, and has been used as an image for t-shirts, cheese brands, coffee shops and so on. So Monalisa is both part of the high culture and at the same time I can wear it everyday to school. This situation has outraged a lot of people, like intellectuals, art critics, upper class and so on, causing the acceptable and non acceptable popular culture.  According to these guys, only a complex piece of work can be considered good, and hence, high culture. On the other hand, a member of the lower class would question why should he or she considered ______________ (Name your classic artist here) as art, when he or she can’t understand what the artist was trying to express. We celebrate texts with our own cultural taste.

According to the author, popular culture is closely related to emotions. It becomes a big deal because it means something to someone, and that evaluation comes straight from the “heart”.

“But the affective investment in certain sites demands a very specific ideological response, for affect can never define, by itself, why things should matter.” (p. 86)

This is the reason why none of us are free from ideology, and the more powerful the affect is, the more powerfully must be ideological legitimated.

1 comentario

Archivado bajo Culture, Popular culture