Introduction to Popular Culture

Popular Culture

Popular Culture and Social Change

Because popular culture charts social change exactly and swiftly, it is commonly held responsible for the changes it reflects, and denounced as the harbinger of social disIocation. in the early years of the century, jazz and the movies were held responsible for juvenile deIinquency, as television continues to be today.

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The Gilded Age of American Civilization

The ways in which society may amuse itself around, in any country and at any time, an exceptional opportunity for the display of wealth and the assertion of social importance. Thorstein Veblen has graphically demonstrated this conscious or unconscious motivation in many forms of recreation. It is clearly evident throughout American social history.

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Hollywood and Cultural Imperialism

There is only one Hollywood in the world. Movies are made in London, Paris, Milan and Moscow, but the life of these cities is relatively uninfluenced by their production. Hollywood is a unique American phenomenon with a symbolism not limited to this country. It means many things to many people.

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Art and Escapism

“The movie is the art of the millions of American citizens,” an English writer in the Adelphi discovered, “who are picturesquely called Hicks-the mighty stream of standardized humanity that flows through Main Street. The cinema is, through and through, a democratic art; the only one.” Nor would this commentator have had it otherwise.

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The Rise of the Sports

While the west was going through its gorgeous epoch of gambling, drinking, and gun-play, a series of athletic crazes were sweeping through the states of the East. Baseball developed from its humble beginnings in the days before the Civil War to its recognized status as America’s national game. The rapid spread of croquet caused the startled editors of The Nation to describe it as the swiftest and most infectious epidemic the country had ever experienced.

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The Pleasures of Vacation Touring

The pleasures of vacation touring were depicted with even more fulsome praise of the joys of the open road. Every section of the country invited the growing army of motorists to visit it. Chambers of commerce, resort proprietors, and oil companies united in publicizing the attractions of seashore and mountain. New England was a summer vacation land, and Florida a popular winter resort.

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Popular Culture and Leisure

As to the first, if he asks several persons at a baseball game, what brought them there, he will receive a variety of answers: “to enjoy the game,” “to get the sunshine,” “to get away from home,” “to rest.” If asked what leisure means to them on a more general level, the same persons are likely to consider it as “time off from work,” “free time,” “my own time,” “doing what I like,” “rest,” and so on. A more sophisticated audience or a categorical-minded observer might attempt to classify such views in still other ways

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