How Influential is Popular Culture?
November 13, 2012 Leave a Comment
It seems that today it’s all about imagery and latent messages conveyed through something people can see, relate to, and aspire too. This is especially true in every marketing and advertising campaign.
I began to discuss this in my last post, but I believe the topic deserves its own post itself. The power of marketing tactics in today’s commercials in unreal. How it can trigger our most innate and primitive desires, and use it as leverage, is cutting edge.
But hasn’t this been going on since the beginning?
Hasn’t Coke become the corporate giant it is today from the early stages of their marketing campaigns?
Even before commercials were even a thought they used the same strategies to make people know and want their product. And more power to them for being able to do so. This is only one example, and maybe one of the least harmful, besides lack of nutrition in their products, of course.
I spend a good portion of my time observing social behavior and how it is influenced. For a while now, I can’t help but notice the utopia every company creates in an ad or commercial for every product they are trying to sell you. You can see it in almost every one. Every booze commercial sells you a great time where the person drinking their product is the center of attention, not the actual drink. Retail store commercials make the person wearing their clothes trendy, sensible, fit, and happy. Every jewelry store shows every woman’s spouse to be kind, loving, good-looking, and well off. The examples go on and on and on.The general latent message in every ad is not the functionality of the product, but what the product can turn you into, or what it can make you feel like.
So how far do we go before we actually start to believe what the hidden messages they are telling us?
That only woman need cleaning and cooking products, and every guy with a pair of Wranglers works in the mud and owns a kick ass truck. Or that if in fact you buy what they are selling, you will become a replica of the character you are watching. Wouldn’t it be great for every company if we were all just cookie cutter’s of each other? Well, we are pretty close to that. It is amazing you can go into any bar in the united states and almost every one is playing the same ten songs! Or go anywhere in the country and go to the same chain restaurants with the same menus, with the employees wearing the same uniforms, at relatively the same cost.
The media influences the way society functions through their messages. Well maybe in part our behavior influenced the imagery of society, but they have stretched it to create a universal code of behaviors. You can see it in the differences between all demographics of people. So the real question is, do we shape the way popular culture interprets us, or does popular culture interpret the way modern society conducts their daily actions. It still amazes me that it is still predominately a mans responsibility to take the garbage from the inside of the house to the outside of the house. To me that still reinforces social norms of men outside, woman inside.
Or my interpretation, “Oh no! I better not step outside of this door, who knows what is out there” syndrome I still notice a great deal of, which is absurd, by the way.
At any rate, the media has created what our gender entails, from the time of birth until we pass on. Why do girls need the color pink and to coddle their mother, while boys get to get dirty and be independent? It is a ridiculous notion that gets reinforced through the media every single day, from childhood cartoons to the show with the obese couple that everyone can relate to. I could give specific examples but to reduce the redundancy of this post I will leave them out, I think everyone can find examples from their own experiences.
The next question is how do these social mores benefit our society as a whole?
One answer I have come up with on my own to rationalize with what is going on is that it creates structure, uniformity, and certainty. If you can almost be certain of ones actions, then it is easy to react to it and use it to your advantage. If the media can get 250 million or so mindless Americans to conform to the same desires and behaviors, I’d have to say they can record some unbelievable profits! Please tell me what in the name of whatever you believe in is the benefit you can get from a Snuggie?
Or one for your dog. I’m just being cynical here of course but really!
On the other hand, strictly in my opinion of course, what negative associations can be contributed to playing following the leader. For one, there will be minimal feelings of adventure and creativity. If you are taught to aspire to be what you are “supposed” to be, well then that is all you will be. I am not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with that because people can find fulfillment in anything. I am just drawing on my own personal experience that I am 23 with a business degree and have zero idea of what I want to create myself to be in this journey. However, because of the norms I feel an unprecedented pressure to find some sort of path in my life, mainly driven behind structure, certainty, and how I am perceived by my peers and others. I realize this because I like to think objectively and know these feelings and pressure are attributed to social regulations created by the media.
Another detrimental association is there leaves little room for advancement as a human race. If we just continue to live vicariously through these hallowed utopias created by popular culture it is going to be hard to encourage people to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and self-fulfilling. To maximize our resources instead of consuming them, even before other substitutable resources or products are finished being consumed. If anything, we are becoming super consumers and super wasters.
I think it is time we all wake up and smell the concrete!