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Popular American Culture: Descriptions and Effects

The first thing which comes to mind when considering popular American culture is that it is so widespread and has such a powerful marketing strategy. Whatever form it entails, for example, commercials, music, or food, one can be sure that the strong force of capitalism is wrenching behind it. American popular culture can be so very appealing and tempting, yet it is also so very risky and dangerous. In order to keep afloat within a society literally consumed with entertainment and enticement, it is vital to be smart and to be able to shut or discern the negative from the positive (Grossberg, Wartella, & Whitney, 2005).

The popular culture a person can come into contact with over the course of several days is remarkable, perhaps too much to even begin to describe. The past several days have blasted by in the effortless search to absorb some of the incoming radiations of popular culture, and one must carefully filter out and describe the handful of bits of culture which one can safely grasp and consider without being overwhelmed. Every morning, I turn on the radio and listen for the soft rock or jazzy funk which is available to any local listener, and this particular music is soothing and helps me to wake up calmly and invitingly—until the commercials begin.

Commercials about the newest non generic drug for my heart condition, the latest DVD program to help save my marriage, the best trendy restaurant in which to dine, all of these popular messages urge me to take out my purse, open my wallet, leave my home, buy something now… in order to save my health, my relationships, my nutrition. Could it be true, all of this? Spend more to feel better, spend more to feel better… the mantra changes, yet stays the same, the chant repetitive and irritating, so much more irritating when you know that happiness is not found in such things, hardly ever.

Sometimes I truly believe that America’s powerful music culture is simply driven by the advertisements which are squeezed in between, sometimes even within, each song. Commercials are the bait for the many fish, and the sharks are looming behind, ready to take whatever they can get. The difficult thing to learn is that the bait and the sharks are working together, the tantalizing sensations, sounds, and images being strewn into the masses for the indulgence of few very big, and often unethical, sharks. Even music itself is being driven by capitalistic forces such as the degradation of women and the stressing importance of money.

In listening to popular music, one only needs several minutes of tunes from the local pop station before one becomes indoctrinated into the musical chanting of our time. Women are hoes, use girls for fun, sex is ok, romance is nothing, money is important, taking everyone’s money is important, giving things is not discussed, support and ethics are not very exciting, defend yourself, protect yourself. There is a scary attitude out there, an attitude where anything goes, everything goes, people can say what they want, do what they want, without a thought to the other.

The self is addressed more than any family or social group of people, the self, myself, I, me. What I want right now is important, without thoughts or cares or responsibilities to other people, to the future. Hearing about men with guns, drugs, women, money, sex, these “players” are all over the airwaves, pulsing enticing beats into the ears of girls, fathers, sisters, boys, mothers, husbands, daughters, brothers, wives, family members, and these words effectively drive people away from one another, making each individual more alone, raw, and frightened, more apt to do foolish things like give their money away for no good reason.

Fast food has an allure, especially when one is in a rush, as many people are, many times a day. Passing by the Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger Kings without going in is not always easy. The colors are bright and colorful, the music soft and cheerful, the servers waiting, the machines cooking, frying, beeping. Why not take a little bite? It’s only a few dollars, not much, not much more than the grocery store really. The questions and doubt come after the fact, as is usual in many aspects of American culture. The nutritional value is known; it’s low.

The gastrointestinal health issues point to horribly processed or simply unhealthy foods. Probably the most discouraging and even horrifying aspect of popular fast foods is that they are so incredibly fattening. The hugest people in the world live in America, pounding down the streets and buzzing around in their electric Wal-Mart carts like nothing at all is eerily disturbing. A very large percentage of the population is so fattened by fast food and other poor eating habits that our population is beginning to look like a bunch of tan slugs, trudging round, making ridiculous purchases.

When I succumbed to the happy red and yellow McDonald’s and ate up my very happy meal, I am sad to say that the extreme stomach problems which I had quietly suspected in the back of my mind came full force into reality. There is really no end to the amount and variety of popular American culture which influences the people who are immersed in it. The best way to protect oneself from the enticing allure, the temptations which surround us, veiling evil eyes and greedy souls, is to be smart, to be prudent, to have faith the good of humanity and to purposefully seek it out without being drawn into the capitalistic money machine.

Many individuals in elite society have no problem doing whatever they can to soak up consumer dollars; therefore it is essential that every person has the education, help, and support of oneself, family members, and loved ones. Without this nurturing and care, it is very possible that a person could become the fish, entranced by bait in the ocean, from which all of the sharks thrive. It is disheartening that so many powerful influences are aiming to strip people of their dollars, but this is the essence of capitalism and the essence of American culture (Strinati, 2004).

Perhaps only when people become sensitive enough to feel and see the detriment of allowing large sectors of society to become extremely poor will they ease off of their tendency to be sharks and encourage more peace, relaxation, and comradery in popular American culture. References Grossberg, L. , Wartella, E. , & Whitney, D. (2005). Mediamaking: mass media in a popular culture. SAGE. Strinati, D. (2004). An introduction to theories of popular culture. Routledge.

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