Popular culture

set of norms or trends dominant in a society at a given time

Popular culture is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture.

Quotes edit

  • Today’s literature is prescriptions written by patients.
    • Karl Kraus, No Compromise (New York: 1977), p. 229
  • It could be that today's conservative movement remains in thrall to the same narrative that has defined its attitude toward film and the arts for decades. Inspired by feelings of exclusion after Hollywood and the popular culture turned leftward in the '60s and '70s, this narrative has defined the film industry as an irredeemably liberal institution toward which conservatives can only act in opposition—never engagement. Ironically, this narrative ignores the actual history of Hollywood, in which conservatives had a strong presence from the industry's founding in the early 20th century up through the '40s, '50s and into the mid-'60s]. The conservative Hollywood community at that time included such leading directors as Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, and Cecil B. DeMille, and major stars like John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Charlton Heston. These talents often worked side by side with notable Hollywood liberals like directors Billy Wilder, William Wyler, and John Huston, and stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Spencer Tracy. The richness of classic Hollywood cinema is widely regarded as a testament to the ability of these two communities to work together, regardless of political differences. As the younger, more left-leaning "New Hollywood" generation swept into the industry in the late '60s and '70s, this older group of Hollywood conservatives faded away, never to be replaced. Except for a brief period in the '80s when the Reagan Presidency led to a conservative reengagement with film—with popular stars like Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger making macho, patriotic action films—conservatives appeared to abandon popular culture altogether. In the wake of this retreat, conservative failure to engage with Hollywood now appears to have been recast by today's East Coast conservative establishment into a generalized opposition toward film and popular culture itself. In the early '90s, conservative film critic Michael Medved codified this oppositional feeling toward Hollywood in his best-selling book Hollywood vs. America.
  • Even more important was American influence in Europe through its music, movies, and fashion. Unlike the Soviet efforts at gaining a cultural influence, there was little that was centrally planned about this. The State Department and the CIA tried to make sure that “healthy” American films and literature were spread abroad, but their successes were limited. Instead, company marketing and consumer responses ruled the roost. The ability of US film studios and record producers to make their output inexpensive and plentiful, while Europe suffered all kinds of shortages, also gave imports an advantage. In 1947, for instance, only forty French films were made, while 340 were imported from the United States. Though the music of Elvis Presley or the movies of Marlon Brando or James Dean were not set up to be propaganda for the American way of life, young Europeans liked them, in part because of their rebelliousness. Wearing T-shirts and blue jeans merged a form of protest against convention with identifying with US movies. In the mid-1950s, American and European teenagers were more united by Brando than by NATO.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A Global History (2017)

See also edit

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