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Popular culture is the longer form of pop culture and is described as the entirety of beliefs, attitudes, ideas, perspectives, images, and other aspects that are within a given culture. Genres such as movies, songs, literature, celebrities, fashion, cartoons among others make up pop culture. Such elements target all people irrespective of their gender or age, and they influence their thoughts, trends, behaviours, and tastes among others. Today, through advertisements, the media is playing the most significant role in making pop culture known to people (Fiske, 2010). Almost everyone is exposed to media and is passionate to learn about every aspect of celebrities’ lives.
Consequently, the behaviours and trends that the celebrities own influence the way the society acts or perceives itself. Most people in the society especially women and teenagers look up to and aspire to emulate celebrities since they are iconic figures in the modern world (McRobbie, 2004). For example, many young women of the 21st century look up to Beyonce, one of the most powerful and influential females in the global entertainment industry. This is because they perceive Beyonce as the face of the twenty-first century’s woman as well as the finest cultural signifier of the present day feminism. Therefore, this paper discusses the impacts of popular culture in the society today. The body part will highlight the kind of effects pop culture creates in the society more so on women and teenage girls. It will look at both positive and negative effects. The conclusion will give a summary the thoughts of what has been discussed in the whole paper.
Impacts of Pop Culture in the Society Today
Pop culture influences the modern society both in positive and negative ways. First, pop culture assists teenage girls to define themselves which is self-definition. This definition is an important feature in the maturation process of any teenager as it influences how they perceive themselves. For teens, personal choices influence their self-definition, while, images and behaviors they see and learn from pop culture elements like songs, movies and adverts on TVs or social media in their everyday lives influence these choices. Although researchers do not agree on the exact extent of these pop influencers, they still acknowledge that popular culture impacts teenager’s self-definition (Thompson, 2007). For example, not all teenagers who listen to gangster rap music are self-defined gangsters. Actually, many learn from the music hence are able to self-define themselves positively. Pop culture provides benchmarks in which teenage girls can develop their self-definition. This way, they realize themselves, imitate various characteristics from different celebrities, and distinguish whether what some pop culture contexts display is right or wrong.
Personally, as a teenager, pop culture has helped me build and strengthen my interactions with people who we share the same culture. There are events such as Comic-con that support pop culture, which can help people that have different backgrounds to build good relationships. Therefore, pop culture acts as a uniting agent for youths across the world (Burke, 2017). Through Comic-con, I am able to make new friends and find new topics to discuss on social platforms. Additionally, popular culture has helped me grow and become more knowledgeable considering the number of representations found in its contexts. For example, after watching Breaking Bad movie, I have developed a great interest in studying Chemistry. In a nutshell, pop culture fosters a good relationship among people living in the same society and increase knowledge and understanding of different things.
Pop culture has also made women realize their value in the society. Apart from the genres that display women as objects or lesser beings, there are others that praise and show the value of women (McRobbie, 2004). Some women like Naomi Wolf have criticized the judgment made upon women concerning their beauty. She states that women should be accepted the way they are. She praises the fact that women of colour like Beyoncé and Rihanna have gained publicity in all media platforms (Wolf, 2002). Additionally, celebrities like Queen Latifah have shown the value of women by introducing clothing-line for plus-size women. The plus-size group has for so long been considered unattractive because of their body shapes hence the society has not fully embraced them. Nevertheless, through pop culture, some of these beliefs have been eliminated, and most women have gained their position in the society today.
Despite the benefits pop culture offers to the society, it is seen to harm the same society as well because many teenage girls idolize the persons in pop groups. Personally, I have always liked Janis Joplin. Though she is dead, I really like her songs. Joplin was an American songwriter who was so talented in her singing. However, I have come to learn that she died of drug overdose. With these, it means that the society will be more harmed if more young people like me imitate her. As teenagers, we may opt to go an extra mile to look or act like Joplin and this may involve the use of drugs or other unacceptable means. This is because a person will only be able to imitate her when he or she is high or rather is on drugs since he or she may not be able to express him or herself while sober. Therefore, this damages the society by lacking able people to build it since many young people might engage in drug use thus get out of control by the way they talk and act.
Popular culture has also negatively impacted the society by the way it makes women view their bodies. Many women both young and adults suffer from body image issues because of the things they see on social media, magazines, and Televisions. These channels display advertisements that these women want to watch over and over again because they are very appealing. The commercials use appeal or sexuality to market their products (McRobbie& Mcrobbie, 2003). They display various personnel mostly women looking very pretty because of using certain products which influence other women to buy similar products to look the same.
However, most of these advertised products are about weight loss and most of them are not safe to use. A high number of women wish to look like the models they see in the ads thus consume the products. For example, some girls grow up idolizing and looking up to some popular actresses like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton not knowing that one is in and out of rehab while the other one is anorexic. Pop culture has made it hard for people to remain as who they are since they spend most of their time judging themselves based on others. Advertisers should create awareness that there is a difference between real beauty and digital manipulation to stop misleading others.
Additionally, pop culture has destroyed the society by changing the normal way of dressing to provocative way thus promoting sexuality. That is, the culture has led to the display of various celebrities dressed provocatively in fashion magazines, websites, and advertisements (McRobbie, 2004). Many teenage and adult females look up to these celebrities imitating them because they believe this the right way to dress. For example, in the book ‘Beauty Myth’ by Naomi Wolf (2002, p 3), she states that “The notorious Calvin Klein ad campaigns eroticized sixteen-years-old when I was a teenager, the eroticized fourteen-year-old models in the early nineties, then twelve-year-old in the late nineties.” This shows the extent to which popular culture has influenced women and young girls to copy others in terms of dressing which has increased sexual immoralities in the society. Furthermore, pop culture has also led to the objectification of women. In today’s society, sex sells, and many men get appealed to women on the basis of sexual engagement and seductiveness. Whenever these men see a particular ad with a beautiful and sexy girl, all that comes to mind is sex (Burke, 2017). Therefore, the need to gain men’s attention and the urge to be desired has forced some women to change themselves and their body appearances.
Again, popular culture has promoted violence within the society. Research has shown that some pop genres like music listened to by teenage girls advocate violence making some of them become very aggressive (Thompson, 2007). I have personally played video games that contain violence between the players. With time, I became very antagonistic towards my friends until I had to stop playing them. Though not everyone who listens to music or plays video games that contain vehemence become violent, it is evident that aggression expressed in the pop culture can create negative impacts on teenager’s lives hence parents should monitor their young ones.
In conclusion, popular culture is the combinations of all the aspects such as beliefs, attitudes, and ideas that are found within a particular culture. Media play the biggest role in popularizing pop culture. Individuals in the modern society are highly exposed to the media, and most of them desire to be like the celebrities they watch in them. Women and teenagers are the ones greatly influenced by what is presented by the pop genres. Nevertheless, pop culture impacts the society in both positive and negative manner. Positively, the culture has helped women and teenage girls to self-define themselves, create bonds with people of different backgrounds, increase knowledge in various subjects and realize their worth in the society. Negatively, the culture has made both women and teenagers idolize some celebrities copying unacceptable behaviours, transform the way they view their bodies and change the usual way of dressing in a more seductive way. All that pop culture expresses should influence the thoughts, trends, behaviours, and tastes among other living style aspects of the people in the society in a positive manner.
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