Acceptance of pop culture has resulted in the division in the people’s views and perceptions. Mainstream sources are those that have made the step in recognition of pop culture as an integral part of the society in which we currently live. On the other hand, there are non-mainstream sources that have restrictions concerning pop culture. They include countercultural and religious groups that deem pop culture as deceitful, superficial, scandalous, and consumerist. Despite the difference in acceptance, television as pop culture is not an educational forum. This essay will analyze television as a form of pop culture to help understand the failure of pop culture as a cultural forum.
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Definitions of Medium of Communication
Television and pop culture forms such as the internet and social media platforms constitute communication medium which is aimed at spreading the information and particular messages. There are two definitions of television as a medium of communication: narrow and broad. The former states that there is the passing of the specific message to promote a certain effect (Newcomb and Hirsch 561). Due to this definition, there is the narrowing of the signal to improve objectivity as well as the trimming of complexities that include narrative, history, metaphor, and culture. Besides, television becomes a tool of communication only and not an art that promotes culture.
On the other hand, the broad definition consists of the passing of the audience a “dominant” message set in fictional entertainment (Newcomb and Hirsch 562). Generally, there are various distinctive qualities and characteristics of television, among which the most dominant are fictitious. Although the audience may be aware that it is fiction meant for entertainment purposes, such content can help indicate the viewers’ needs and emotions.
Categories of Television Shows
Most television shows intended for entertainment today can be divided into three broad categories: procedural crime, reality TV, and supernatural occurrences. Procedural crime shows have a plot where there are involved bad people such as criminals and genuine individuals led by wisdom. The majority of such shows end with the positive heroes solving the mystery with high ratings, which is an indication that the shows are not for entertainment. To be specific, it is a reflection of the society but not a helpful forum because even as the right people win, there exists the concept of violence. Thus, television is known as a channel that normalizes any kind of violence (Shepherd 6). Violence in its turn leads to the introduction of another component of the TV station - gender. In such shows, there is an indication of the boundary of existence between male and female through violence (Shepherd 6). Therefore, violence and gender become integral parts of television. However, there are also other shows that portray individuals with special powers who use them to triumph. Besides, both good and bad people may have these extraordinary abilities.
The two above-discussed categories are fictional; nevertheless, there exists reality television. The primary purpose of it was to broadcast something people could identify as a normal activity. However, some individuals perceive the shows as such offering the audience an alternative universe that is far from reality. For instance, in real life, success is a process that takes time, perseverance and hard work. On the contrary, in the TV shows, individuals become wealthy and famous within a short period. All these shows are widely popular and are an indication of people being discontent and insecure in their lives; however, they do not promote culture.
Furthermore, the communication of these messages is usually under political control. The intentions of such control over the industry remain questionable. Some individuals feel that regulation of the communication enterprises and technologies are undermining American culture in general. On the other hand, there are people who believe that regulators incorporate American values into society. Basically, all people receive a standard meaning of the message (Hendershot 56).
Cultural Role of Television
Television as the center of public thinking is considered to be replacing the traditional types of communication medium including radio and newspaper (Hendershot 63). This change has resulted in the appearance of “cultural interpreters” which include actors, television directors, programmers, and network executives. Cultural interpreters are in most cases unaware of the cultural theory that matches formal analysis of cultural practices, promotion of which is a process and not only a product such as a show. Presenting cultural rituals as a product displays television as conducting the “bardic function” (Hendershot 124) that emphasizes the most prevalent issues which oppose the promotion of culture through the performance of the multiplicity of meanings.
Apparently, as a medium of communication, television should create a cultural forum that helps promote cultural rituals and practices. Nevertheless, the types of shows that are most popular are an indication of the opposite: violence and crime show along with reality and supernatural shows display the needs and emotions of the audience. There are attempts to promote culture by regulations, but the viewers believe the practices and rituals are imposed. The appearance of television programmers as cultural interpreters has led to the changing of traditional content in order to suit the viewers. Consequently, it resulted in the loss of content meaning. Moreover, the programs are presenting culture as a product rather than as a process; therefore, television is not a culture forum.