Popular American Culture
Popular American culture is defined as modern-day ways of life and things that are well known and commonly accepted or have cultural patterns that are prevalent in a populace. Popular culture is often referred to as pop culture. The writer of this paper will compile an inventory of artifacts of popular culture that he has come into contact with and attempt to give them perspective. The influence of popular American culture on the author’s personal decision making will be discussed. The values, commonality and patterns associated with this inventory will also be addressed.
First of all, the fact that I am part of the growing trend or phenomenon that is adult education is baffling. Many more adults are seeking to gain higher education credentials to advance their careers, the criteria which I participate. People age thirty or above comprise a majority of the adult college admissions, which I am also a part. It is hard categorize where this falls under. Is it ambition, the acquisition of wealth, pursuit of knowledge or acknowledgement? One can not really say. Higher education is measured as a value to each individual. I like to think it is my need to grow in knowledge.
Television is a major
HBO, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), CNN (Cable News Network), and Sci-Fi Channel are among my guilty pleasures. I can gain access to ways to acquire wealth or a supplement to my salary through infomercials, events that were before my existence on the History Channel or insight into me as a black man on TVOne by watching Black Men Revealed. Programs can be recorded for later viewing when you are not able to watch at the airing time. Television is more interactive than ever with these and other additions. This gives me and other Americans access to ntertainment, resources, miscellaneous information/knowledge and news at any given time. Enjoyment of various types of music is one of my favorite past times that I indulge while driving usually. All forms of music influence people today but not necessarily the same genre of music. Hip-hop (ol’skool to gangsta’), rhythm and blues (oldies to neo-soul), jazz (smooth to avant-garde), country (classic to bluegrass), gospel (traditional to Christian rock), and all others in-between appeal to specific audiences, some ethnically, some personally and others spiritually.
Personally, I listen to gospel, all types, most of the time. But I still listen to secular music and occasionally go out dancing (to places that play a form of music referred to as club/house/dance). Pleasure, relaxation plus a release of tension is derived from music for me. All forms of communication and access, whether it is person to person, informative, visual and/or instructional, can be instantaneous via cell phone, P. D. A. or computer. Phone calls, text messaging, photography and internet acquisition is easy with use of either of these popular tools. I use one or all of them on a daily basis.
No longer do we have to wait to get in touch with someone or something, today it is at a touch of a button or keyboard. The world has opened up to us through the internet and mobile networks; anyone can be reached even when they are walking down the street. Most Americans desire, own or have access to a computer and/or cell phone (personal or business). The expectation of instant access has made me as well as the rest of America very impatient. We pay bills, order all kinds of merchandise, satisfy carnal desire or desperation, relay messages or thoughts and contact individuals, professional and personal, at a moments inkling.
We have become a nation obsessed with immediate gratification, myself included. Pleasure and convenience seems to be one of the major values needed to be fulfilled in modern life. Can we ever go back to a world with just land lines, waiting for a call back, and information retrieval and research the old fashion way? Religion is part of pop culture even though most people will adamantly disagree. Religion, organized or personal, has been around for centuries, but the mass appeal is more widespread than ever. Races, cultures even countries are bonded by common beliefs and are divided as well as at war due to different belief systems.
In the United States, alone, faith, spirituality, and moral values have become a part of politics, contention, financial gain, laws, and scandal. Music, television/radio stations and shows, and mega-churches, dedicated to a particular religious belief, are a part of daily life. I go to church irregularly but my Christian soul compensates by watching shows on TBN, like “The Potter’s House” with Bishop T. D. Jakes and listening to Praise 103. 9fm WPPZ regularly. Gaining some kind of perspective on the meaning of life is the main purpose I believe for religion.
It gives us all reason for living, with guidelines to live a good life and be a positive influence on humanity (at least I believe). Popular American culture today has spawned the age of health, both physical and mental. I am at a point in my life where my physical health is important. Currently reading “EXTREME FAT SMASH DIET” by Dr. Zank Smith, M. D. , I am trying to find ways to address my obesity just like most American people. I am constantly bombarded by all kinds of quick fixes on television infomercials and spam mail in my email inbox that confuse most people and cost more than can be afforded.
Some type of program, system, book or pill, for weight loss, mental stability, sexual prowess, and overall better health, are advertised at every turn of the channel or check of incoming email. Who can keep up or make an informed decision with the current “snake oil” sales of today? Doctors are no better; medications are, dispensed easier than going to the ATM for money. With the side effects that occur that are not supposed to happen, you feel like a lab rat. Alternative or holistic forms of treatments and medication have gained popularity within American society due to the mistrust of government sanctioned drugs.
People flock to gyms, nutritionists, and herbalists trying to find the answer to a longer existence. I presently walk, exercise at home, try to eat healthier, and take several different pills (over the counter, herbal and prescribed medications). Through all these actions, is a healthier productive life the objective or are we looking for the key to immortality? I can say for me the goal is to live as long as possible with the best quality of life available. Conclusion Popular American culture is a part of my life everyday. I could not escape its influence if I wanted to.
I find that I do make decisions based on my personal beliefs and try to gain and use factual information about what is presented to me. But can I say that I do not go about my life accepting, partaking, and being a contributor to popular American culture? No. Life is what it is at this point in time. I am a product of this environment. All of the artifacts of popular culture named in this paper are intertwined within in one another in some shape form or fashion. All aspects of life are mingled and overlapping, to try dissection of these aspects is an impossible task.
This is to say that we all make conscious and subconscious choices in our existence based on pop culture. It affects every human being, animal, plant, the entire planet for that matter. From your soap, clothes, food, music, personal views and so on, popular American culture has some form of influence. Progress is the movement forward into the future and popular culture is the fuel that will always be what is current, new and superior to what was before. Maybe popular culture will lend a hand to our downfall or lead to a utopia. No matter what way popular American culture leads, the majority will decide, I, the author included, like it or not.