Popular Culture

This is an essay that i did about the value of popular culture. I received a 2:1.

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  • Created on: 20-03-10 13:35
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Popular culture is worthless. Discuss.
Popular culture can be viewed from many different perspectives, one view of popular culture can be
considered through art in which there has been a connection between high and popular culture for
many years. It can be noted that `one can with ease cite classical composers who have adapted
popular or peasant tunes, writers who have transmitted the myths and fairy tales of childhood,
painters who have transformed everyday scenes into great art and popular composers who have
borrowed from Bach.' (Brandon et al. 2001) Popular culture can be considered worthless, from a
more traditional point of view of art, because of its lack of institution, skill, and education compared
to high culture but it regains its worthiness through its historical influence in political and cultural
topics. The impact and worthiness of popular culture can be seen because there is also the argument
that popular culture can be harmful to certain kinds of people; those who are in specific
socioeconomic situations and it can also contribute to tensions within society because of its
homogeneous presentation. Although popular culture can have an influence on social awareness in
terms of charities, gender issues, politics and racism.
Popular culture can be considered worthless because the creators of popular culture often use low
skilled methods to create their art. Andy Warhol used the screen print method which required little
skill to produce pieces and he often had help from others when using the screen print. This technique
also brings in the idea of art being authentic. The use of a screen prints means that Andy Warhol could
repeat the image many times with only slight differences. Although the screen print was low skilled,
it was a new form of art production which clearly gives the method a worth in terms of originality.
Andy Warhol was also a pioneer in the Pop Art scene which often involved using other people's
images and recreating them, an example of this is Andy Warhol's use of the Campbell's soup can or
Mickey Mouse. Mel Ramos is also famous for producing paintings of pin up girls posing on products
by leading brands; the use of leading brand imagery supports the view of a lack of originality.
One of the main arguments about high culture is that it can only be created by the very few, high
culture can only be appreciated by the few; therefore works that are appreciated by the many
cannot be works of high cultural value but `if we take some minimally controversial works of high
cultural value, for instance, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Mozart, the operas of Verdi, the
paintings of Rembrandt and Monet, the novels of Dickens, all of these were the occasion of popular
acclaim. It just is the case that, in sixteenth-century England or eighteenth-century Vienna ordinary
people who were interested in plays or music were just as enthusiastic about these works as the
cultural elite were.' (Brandon et al. 2001) This argument is clearly ineffective because `if the second
premise falls then the whole argument falls to the ground and it does so because it confuses two
distinct things; the artistic or cultural value of certain works and the perception of such value by
populace at large.' (Brandon et al. 2001)
The actually value of viewing culture can reflect its worth; `Since tickets to the opera house, an edifice
of high culture, commanded a much higher price than tickets to the music hall, audiences who
attended such performances at the opera house tended to be a much tonier crew than audiences
who attended the newly devalued variety shows. More importantly, however, as certain cultural
products picked up elite status, they also required a certain class inflection.' (Hawkins 2005) On this
theme, popular culture has a lower worth purely because it the expense of participating in high

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It has also been argued that popular culture can be harmful to specific cultures because `electronic
media and consumer culture are bound up in a larger system of global capitalism. Furthermore this
capitalist system has demonstrably harmful effects on those who work in exploitative environments,
who suffer from the insecurity of low-paid, casualized labour, or who find themselves excluded from
the pleasures and opportunities of consumer culture through low income.…read more

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In a study looking at the effects of popular culture on religion Hulsether (2005) observed that `some
of the most important and interesting texts in recent U.S culture which have overlapping concerns
with liberation theologies are by Madonna.' (Hulsether 2005) This study is not necessarily saying that
Madonna is promoting Christianity, or any other faith, but Hulsether asks readers to observe that
Madonna is challenging gender roles in society with her company "Boy Toy, Inc.…read more

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The field of popular culture is
structured by the attempt of the ruling class to win hegemony and by forms of opposition to this
endeavour. As such, it consists not simply of an imposed mass culture that is coincident with
dominant ideology, nor simply of spontaneously oppositional cultures but is rather an area of
negotiation between the two within which ­ in different particular types of popular culture ­
dominant, subordinate and oppositional cultural and ideological values and elements are `mixed' in
different permutations.…read more

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Lynch, G. (2005). Understanding theology and popular culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Shelter. (2009). Our History. Available:
http://england.shelter.org.uk/about_us/who_we_are/our_history. Last accessed 17 Nov 2009.
Smith, C. (2005). The Political Impact. In: Tate Modern: The First Five Years. London: Tate. 17.…read more


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