Power of Pop Culture (YOLO?)

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September 6, 2012 by marissapags

Compressed for assessment:

Every time I turn on the radio I’m forced to turn it off after seconds because the only thing I hear these days is the whiny rapping of Niki Minaj or the Spanish mumjo jumbo of Pitbull. I’ve noticed something though, almost every song on the radio consists of the lyrics “Live your life” “We might not get tomorrow, lets do it tonight” “Let’s make the most of the night like we gonna die young”. It’s this idea pervading popular culture. Drink up, party hard, live life to the fullest because we might die tomorrow, we might die young so lets have some “SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS!” These artists are now what we would call popular culture in modern society but why? I have studied popular culture for so long yet I have never truly delved into the origin and questioned why and how it exists. Over the years the theorists and critics have argued the birth of popular culture. Does it emerge from the masses of people? Or does it emerge from the people below? Hence why pop culture is often criticized by intellects as they tend to believe the emergence of pop culture in commodity forms mean that its immense profitably and marketing are due to the fact it lacks quality, integrity, artistry and intellectual challenge and therefore it appeals to a universal market (Strinati). Or is it the other way around, is popular culture there to govern the masses getting them to accept and follow the ideas and values popular culture promotes.  Many say it was the sixties that ignited the fire of popular culture; it was an overwhelming force impacting and shaping the lives of youths across the western world. According to theorist Ray B Brown, popular culture is already with the people and is apart of their everyday lives, in the language and of course in the media (Browne).  The mass media is the primary disseminator of popular culture. I believe the mass media has influenced society for so long and ingrained so many fleeting attitudes, ideas and values in the heads of so many that society is conditioned to accept and like whatever the media spits out. Of course, there are numbers of people who don’t accept or adhere to popular culture, however when we talk about popular culture it refers to the majority, the mass audiences. Professor of Cultural Analysis and Sociology Jim McGuigan also explains that the symbolic experiences and practices of ordinary people are more important analytically and politically in our culture thus why popular culture has such an integral emphasis on society (McGuigan). After all it would be not called “popular” culture if it was not popular among people or if it was not the so profitable and marketable. But McGuigan also argues this idea of popular culture is narrowing the mindsets of many and promotes material life and insignificant ideals. This can be related back to my example about the radio. Popular culture shapes the lives of ordinary people and as McGuigan proposes can very well be associated to an insular mentality as the popular artists embrace certain values in their lyrics, mass audiences immediately learn to accept those attitudes (McGuigan). With these popular attitudes comes the term YOLO (you only live once). This quote has emerged from popular culture through the music industry and has become a saying youths live by. It became renowned when American artist Drake rapped it in one of his songs. Its idea is sort of the same as the Latin saying “Carpe Diem” and promotes the values we here on the radio everyday, living life to the fullest but has unfortunately become a justification amongst youths for making stupid and rash decisions. 
Peter: “I’m going to get drunk and set something on fire”

Greg: “why?”

Peter: “YOLO”

Stacey: “john why are you driving 80 km over the speed limit?”

John: “YOLO”

This idea has pervaded the youths in society and set them loose in the world to run muck and live life to the fullest and worst of all the term is used to defend stupid, moronic behaviour. And all because we heard it on the radio. Popular Culture is a powerful thing, it interests the masses, it influences the masses and then it rules the masses. Some incredible things have emerged from its existence but the argument will always remain, that pop culture limits the understanding of wider social forces, thoughts and actions (Strinati).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Blog:

My friends and I were listening to one of my favourite artists in the car today, Yusuf Islam a.k.a Cat Stevens. Legend and incredible musician in my eyes; boring, old, mind-numbing loser in the eyes of my dear friends. I can’t help that I grew up with this soulful musician. My dad strummed Cat Stevens’ songs to me as a little girl therefore I have grown accustomed to his music and graceful tunes. After much deliberation my friends insisted I change the music or they claimed they would jump out of the car and break their legs rather than listen to the rest of “Father and Son”. I switched the radio on to make peace and mentally told my brain to tolerate the whiny rapping of Niki Minaj for the rest of the car ride home. Then it suddenly dawned on me how drastically society has turned, from listening to songs about a father telling his son to settle down and get married to artists ranting about how “We bout to get up and burn this floor” because according to Ms. Minaj “We gettin’ hotter and hotter, sexy and hotter”.  Listening to the radio just for that last half an hour home, it is evident contemporary popular culture is all about living for the now, partying hard, getting drunk, hangovers, grabbing sexy bitches and so on, due to the menacing thought that singer Pitbull has drilled into our brains that we “might not get tomorrow… so lets do it tonight!”

This is popular culture. These artists are now what we would call popular culture in modern society but why? I have studied popular culture for so long yet I have never truly delved into the origin and questioned why and how it exists. Over the years the theorists and critics have argued the birth of popular culture. Does it emerge from the masses of people? Or does it emerge from the people below? Hence why pop culture is often criticized by intellects as they tend to believe the emergence of pop culture culture in commodity forms mean that its immense profitably and marketing are due to the fact it lacks quality, integrity, artistry and intellectual challenge and therefore it appeals to a universal market (Strinati). Or is it the other way around, is popular culture there to govern the masses getting them to accept and follow the ideas and values popular culture promotes.  Many say it was the sixties that ignited the fire of popular culture; it was an overwhelming force impacting and shaping the lives of youths across the western world. According to theorist Ray B Brown, popular culture is already with the people and is apart of their everyday lives, in the language and of course in the media (Browne).  The mass media is the primary disseminator of popular culture. I believe the mass media has influenced society for so long and ingrained so many fleeting attitudes, ideas and values in the heads of so many that society is conditioned to accept and like whatever the media spits out. Of course, there are numbers of people who don’t accept or adhere to popular culture, however when we talk about popular culture it refers to the majority, the mass audiences. Professor of Cultural Analysis and Sociology Jim McGuigan also explains that the symbolic experiences and practices of ordinary people are more important analytically and politically in our culture thus why popular culture has such an integral emphasis on society (McGuigan). After all it would be not called “popular” culture if it was not popular among people or if it was not the so profitable and marketable. But McGuigan also argues this idea of popular culture is narrowing the mindsets of many and promotes material life and insignificant ideals. This can be related back to my example about the radio. Popular culture shapes the lives of ordinary people and as McGuigan proposes can very well be associated to an insular mentality as the popular artists embrace certain values in their lyrics, mass audiences immediately learn to accept those attitudes (McGuigan). With these popular attitudes comes the term YOLO (you only live once). This quote has emerged from popular culture through the music industry and has become a saying youths live by. It became renowned when American artist Drake rapped it in one of his songs. Its idea is sort of the same as the latin saying “Carpe Diem” and promotes the values we here on the radio everyday, living life to the fullest but has unfortunatley become a justification amongst youths for making stupid and rash decisions.
Peter: “I’m going to get drunk and set something on fire”

Greg: “why?”

Peter: “YOLO”

Stacey: “john why are you driving 80 km over the speed limit?!”

John: “YOLO”

This idea has pervaded the youths in society and set them loose in the world to run a muck and live life to the fullest and worst of all the term is used to defend stupid, moronic behaviour. And all because we heard it on the radio. Popular Culture is a powerful thing, it interests the masses, it influences the masses and then it rules the masses. Some incredible things have emerged from its existence but the argument will always remain, that pop culture limits the understanding of wider social forces, thoughts and actions (Strinati).

References:

Browne, R and Fishwick, M, Symbiosis: Popular Culture and Other fields, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press.

McGuigan, J, 1992, Cultural Populism, London: Routledge.

Strinati, D, 1995, An Introduction of Theories of Popular Culture, London: Routledge.

http://www.youtube.com

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