Popular culture is a combination of symbols, processes, ideas, understandings and material goods arising from mass media like entertainment, advertisements, and games. Popular culture affects individuals across the world. It defines the current trends, fashion, what people should listen to, how to behave and how to look like. This is through magazines, television, music, billboards, and movies. In this essay, we analyze the impact of popular culture on people, in an attempt to establish whether popular culture is good or bad.
Popular culture plays a particularly crucial role in the society today. One of its functions is that it helps in developing social norms. We use the example of how people wear in understanding the role of popular culture in developing norms. The fashion industry communicates what people should wear through advertisements and magazines. The adverts get reinforcement through the televisions, films, celebrities, and musicians who embrace these trends. The fashion stalls and boutique shops start selling these clothes. Eventually people get to conform to the fashion norm. As time passes, another trend comes into existence, and the cycle continues.
Popular culture helps people start analyzing and understanding their environment in better ways. As the world population increases rapidly, people starts paying attention to the environment. Research shows that being environmental friendly and this affects the way people vote, consume and interact. The media’s emphasis on the need to protect the environment have pushed companies to employ environmental friendly practices, moreover, consumers change their buying patterns and places depending on which organization is environmental friendly.
Popular culture assists people to set social boundaries. This is because, the music we listen to, the clothes we wear, and the televisions stations we watch are helpful in shaping our identities. It also helps people identify people who are more like us in their ways of life (McKee, 2007). Individuals are able to accept certain movies and music and reject others. Popular cultures assist people identify others with same ideas and likes and learn to identify with them. It is, therefore, right to say that popular culture offers individuals a unique way of identifying people we share common goals.
Popular culture helps people develop and observe rituals unique to a particular class of people. Teenagers come together to do activities unique to them, college students gather together to watch television events and comic fans gather together waiting to watch a new movie. The rituals created helps members to feel as part of these groups. Moreover, they foster bonding among members with common interests. Attending such common activities inculcates a sense of social solidarity and helps develop strong bonds though some people may not know each other. This social solidarity forms a strong basis for building social cohesion (McKee, 2007).
The important role that popular culture plays in the society is that creates way for social change. Currently, leaders and many cultures are making use of celebrities to market their ideas and products to different people across the world. People learn and change depending on what the people they consider as role models and celebrities do. An example is the involvement of celebrities in Obama’s campaign in 2008. Companies, on the other hand, know the impact of celebrities in people’s lives. They, therefore, make use of them to market their products.
Popular cultures have an enormous impact on shaping the identities of children as they grow up. Children begin tom identify the environment around them right after birth. They absorb the sounds, smell, touch and other emotions of people surrounding them; this stage is crucial in developing the child’s identity. The information they gather as they grow up becomes particularly crucial in defining who they are. They mimic the traits of the personalities around them. When the children are exposed to pop culture, part of their identity is formed based on the culture (Johnson, 2006).
Popular culture has a significant influence on the manner in which students and learners participate in the learning process. Teachers and educators make use of visual aids to make education more entertaining. The televisions and computers act as forms of visual mediums, which help break the monotony of linguistic media. In addition, learners make use of the internet to access information on their assignment (Marsh and Millard, 2000). This helps learners to ease the burden of library search, since information is readily available on the internet. New forms of learning like on-line studies and e-learning has developed, which breaks the need to attend the traditional classes. In addition, educators do not have to attend the classes physically sine they can still teach through videos and video conferencing. People around the world are attaining certifications from colleges away from their home countries through the use of distant and e-learning. Schools are increasingly using technology in and outside the classes. Use of web-based resources and computer games as teaching tools is on the rise.
Popular culture inculcates violence and devalues education. It puts more emphasizes on material possessions and downplays the role of hard work, healthy relationships and associations with friends and families (Mitchell, C & Walsh, 2002). Popular culture also reveals women as sex objects and impacts very little respect on them. It also shows men as the superior gender and women’s role is to serve them.
Popular culture has had negative effects on the teenagers in the world today. Teenagers develop unhealthy eating habits, which they pick from the internet, televisions, and other media forms. Girls grow knowing one gets beauty from not eating and having model-type bodies, they skip meals in an attempt to achieve the ideal body like the bodies portrayed in the media. The result of this is that children develop unhealthy eating habits and consequently, this affects their health. In addition, the media give unhealthy stereotypes for people especially women. Older women yield to the pressure of losing weight, excessive exercising, and using diets with minimum proteins and carbohydrates. These activities have dangerous effects on the health of the people in question.
It is common knowledge that TV stations across the world show many programs revolving around sexual activities, and the sex lives of the actors in the programs. It is extremely hard to get programs that discuss safe sex, and teach people on the right age to have sex. In addition, the sex programs shown on the TV do not show any characters practicing safe sex. This exposes teenagers to thinking that it is alright to practice unprotected sex as their ‘role models’ do. A recent research shows that teenagers who watch TVs with sex content for long hours are twice as likely to impregnate a girl or become pregnant than the teenagers with minimal exposure to the content.
Recent studies show what kind of music teenagers listen to which influences sexual and healthy behaviors. A research by Forbes shows that 68% of boys and 65% of girls who listen to dancehall music have the urge to have sex often. The music portrays men power through showing off masculinity and virility, while the women keep their men through fulfilling their sexual desires. After listening to these songs, adolescents feel compelled to act as they hear and as they see in the videos (Brooks, 2010).
Crime and drugs also form substantial content in the popular culture. Movies and televisions actors constantly use drugs and are involved in all forms of crime. These instill the urge to do the same in children and teenagers. Information has become so unlimited in the recent past that parents alone cannot control the information children can access. The ease of accessing information, music, and movies from the internet complicates how parents control what the children watch. As teenagers get exposure to the popular culture, they start acting as they see. This affects their behavior negatively.
One of the fastest developing aspects of the entertainment industry is video games. Research shows that over 90% of kids across America play these games daily. More than half of these video games contain excessive violence (Brooks, 2010). There is a strong connection between violence and children’s behavior. Children who tend play intensely violent games have the tendency of being more aggressive that the kids who play less violent video games. The reason for this is that the children’s brains as if the violence was real. The games train the brain to act in violent patterns.
Over the years, we have lost many of the positive family values. With the invention of televisions and radios, all people have access to the similar information and news. Through standardized education and mass media, a general culture have been developed, which every person follows. People started moving from the closely-knit extended families to independent nuclear families. The traditional families would compose and sing music together, but people who listen to other people’s music through their MP3 players characterize the pop culture. Pop culture encourages autonomy, independence, and liberation as opposed to the families working together as a unit.
Popular culture has also affected morals of teenagers and growing children today. The scandal facing the celebrities like Tiger Woods leads the teenagers into believing that infidelity and unfaithfulness in marriage glamorous or even acceptable. In addition, celebrities’ lives have exceedingly high divorce rates and the same people getting married again and divorcing later again (Brooks, 2010). As children grow up, the fail to take the institution of marriage seriously, since people they consider as icons and role models get into it and leave as often as they want. These corrupt the minds and the morals of the children and affect their relationships in the future.
An important aspect of an adolescent’s maturation is self-definition, defined as how one sees him or herself. For teenagers, personal choices influence one’s image, which in turn are influenced by the pop culture images and association that teenagers come across on a daily basis. This culture forms a basis through which a teenager identifies him or herself. With respect to this, teenagers pick up characteristics, behaviors, and dress codes from celebrities and incorporate them in their lifestyles. Whether this influences the life of the teenager negatively or positively depends on what the teenager picks from the celebrities and the celebrities they pick as their icons.
Conclusively, it is right to say that we cannot ignore the effects of popular culture in the world we are living today. With the increase in technological inventions, information flows extremely faster to all people of all spheres of life across the globe. People, therefore, get exposed to the same information in terms of quality and quantity through the media and the internet. Whether popular culture is good or bad, depends on how one analysis each impact of popular culture on people, for instance, while popular culture can easily interfere with the teenagers’ morals, parents can use the same culture to teach their students to be responsible and learn to choose between the wrong and right.