Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Popular Culture and Mass Attitude: The Women's March.


It is Saturday 21st January; and as I was keenly watching the Women’s March unfolds, I slowly realize that pop culture is one of USA’s strong indicators of the culture and identity of masses. That revolution seemed totally “pop cultured” if I can say that; Signs were mostly based on popular culture references, quoting famous movie characters, female empowering movie lines, song lyrics and so on.
The March showed that pop culture can influence not only the culture but also the political thinking and action of masses. Slogan such as “Ovaries Before Brovaries” and “Uteruses Before Duderuses” from the comedy Parks and Recreation; “Female are strong as Hell” from the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and references from Beyoncé, Cher, and Janet Jackson could be seen everywhere.


I do not totally think that consuming pop culture and referring to it, is political in itself, but it was clear that pop culture had provided to those women across the country, the language they needed to express their anger, frustration and grievances. They told us that as much as pop culture can be used to escape from the realities and sometimes cruelties of actual politics, it can as well be used as a way to raise voices at the people in charge of policies, and somehow be heard.

If popular culture is such a huge factor of masses identity, it means that people are what they watch, what the listen to and what they read. Pop culture takes then, a communal aspect. People use it not only to show their own identities but also the community culture. They consume pop culture and pop culture binds them together as a mass, meaning “if you understand the popular culture references we are using, then you can be part of the club”.


But it doesn’t matter if the use of pop culture against politics is a good thing or not. The fact is that in this era, it is something we cannot avoid. It is here to stay for a long period of time. It will be aired on media outlets, it will be discussed on the internet and become a trend, and obviously it will be replicated into thousands of memes. We can see that just by  taking example from The Women’s March. Popular culture is what masses looks like now. It is what masses are identifying with.

Discussion questions

Seeing the impact that pop culture has, what can the people who make and sell popular culture change or improve?
Can pop culture celebrities use their fame to make a difference?

2 comments:

  1. Your insights on this issue are impressive Thesia. Pop culture has a huge impact on people, and I believe the pop culture industry can direct a lot of our basic human values. For instance, in an episode of "Friends", Joey was smoking and the other characters chided him about it, demonstrating to their young audience that smoking isn't OK. "Friends" had a huge fanbase, and these fans often mirrored what they saw on this show. I was impressed that the producers chose to influence their audience against smoking. On the other hand, in one conversation on the same program, the subject of sex and dating came up. One of the characters was surprised that the dating couple had been on three dates and hadn't had sex yet. It was said in such a way that made the viewer think that having sex early in a dating relationship was normal, and that a person would be considered weird if they didn't engage in it by the third date. Celebrities have been used in commercials to influence the public to treat animals humanely, read to their children and to use a particular body lotion. From these examples, it is my opinion that so much of what we see on the screen can be used to influence viewers, and that celebrities can do a great to deal in making a difference in the world.

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  2. I appreciate your thoughts and recognition of pop culture icons as they relate to the 2017 Women's March. Just last evening I was speaking with my 16-year-old son who participated in the march with me in St. George, along with my spouse and 5 more of our children. We created neon color signs that read "United States of Love," "Peace," and "Count Us In." When we sat down as a family to create our signs, ideas of pop culture icons did not come up, rather messages that the kids felt were important to convey. However, last night as my son and I were discussing the march, the conversation shifted toward "Princess Leia," "the resistance," and the interesting role "Star Wars" is beginning to play in protests emerging in conjunction with President Trump's rapid firing of executive orders.

    My son made reference to the fact that Princes Leia is not necessarily a solid representative of the strong and independent female message. Though she was a leader in character, she was also repressed, criticized and fell prey to rewarding men for their strength and power in many instances in the "Star Wars" saga. As we explored why she might be surfacing as a heroine for women and an icon of strength and resistance in women's protests, we determined that her role was groundbreaking in its own right.

    Like many women's roles, hers was one that offered a new perspective in pop culture for women. She was granted a role of leadership and intelligence. And though she was marked by words "princess" and was most often portrayed wearing makeup and white clothing, she was indeed a character of a new kind. She was a main character in a science fiction movie who carried a gun. She wore a dress but not high heels - rather leather sandals allowing for quick getaways and prominent power stances. She entered into romantic scenes with her male counterparts, but she did often emerge with directive and vision for what needed to be done next to save the universe.

    I was pleased to read your blog post that so closely related to a conversation I had with my son, Jonah, just last evening. He and I agreed that Princes Leia is an important example of a pop culture character who broke new ground for women, and one that women can use to express a desire to break new ground themselves. And yes, I do believe celebrities can and do often use their fame to advance agendas. In the last few weeks we have seen Madonna, Matthew Maconoughy, Alicia Keys, and even Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker), speak up and out. I believe their role is to propel the agenda, give voice and momentum to message, because what they offer are communication vehicles allowing for iconic representation of identity, ideologies, and messages. Pop culture icons are truly just that: icons. They stand for so much more, and the exist in the mainstream.

    In public relations, I often attach client messages to pop culture icons where it fits. Why? Because they help carry the message in ways a human voice or individual identity cannot. You might just enjoy this related article:

    http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/1/24/14358000/womens-march-washington-pop-culture-politics

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