Pop Culture. Entertainment or Manipulation?

Music has always been a force for political change.  Lyrics in songs have often intertwined with politics.  The Greeks were one of the earliest examples of a culture that understood how music could stir a society to rebel against their government.  Plato stated, “When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them.”  In times of slavery in America, songs of protest were sung in the cotton fields, Biblical songs that spoke of freedom, such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “Go Down Moses.”  The ‘60s  were a time of great change in this country.  Jim Crow was abolished, communism was beginning to fall, and there was great political unrest.  Bob Dylan’s music was a reflection of all that was going on and people saw it as an echo of  what they were thinking at the time. 1503198-bigthumbnail His music stirred people against the Vietnam War and social inequality.  Rap music of the late ‘80s spoke of more inequality with groups like N.W.A. talking of police brutality and poverty.  Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Madonna used lyrics that expressed their political beliefs.  Springsteen and Joan Baez were part of the Amnesty International benefit concert in 1988.  Baez even stood by Martin Luther King Jr. during a march for civil rights, was arrested for helping Vietnam draft dodgers, and sang “Amazing Grace” in Sarajevo.  This political undertone appealed to people who felt oppressed and those who agreed with that particular cause. The artists had the power to inspire people to action.  There are many current artists who express political views. In Lady Gaga’s song, “Born This Way” deals with gay rights issues.  She became a crusader for people outside the social mainstream and spoke out for no discrimination toward people who had no control over what sexuality they were.  Recent laws have come into place concerning gay rights, and now transgender.  Gay marriage is now legal and homosexuals are a protected group in the workplace.  Many bathroom signs are now for all genders.  Even a few weeks ago a major university announced students would be penalized in grading for the use of the word “female” in their papers.  Some stores are making no separation between men’s and women’s clothing.  Is music a reflection of this social change, or does music help bring about these changes?

Television is another area that helps shape public policy.  With a national election nearing, this is particularly relevant.  Does the media report politics or shape political events?  I think the media is responsible for shaping the course of political events.  The presidential debates held recently were a perfect example.  Some of the questions asked by the media to the candidates were not relevant to their political beliefs and were felt by many to be unfair to certain candidates.  It is felt by many people that the media imposes their own position on topics rather than unbiased reporting.  Presidential candidates need media attention to gain voter attention, so one might ask if voters or the media hold political power?  The media can definitely influence the opinion of voters, especially people who are uncommitted.  Candidates usually try to use the media to their best advantage.  There are many people in the country who are tired of the media coverage and its seemingly biased nature.  News channels who promote they give unbiased news have sprung up as a result.  One presidential candidate has attacked the media, and has gained support with people who feel the same way.  The media has “destroyed” many candidates with details of their private lives.  Even Hillary Clinton has been “forced” to finally apologize for her security breach as Secretary of State with the  constant media attention given to her.  There are other television shows that deal with public policy as well.

The show “Modern Family” depicts three families.  One married couple has a significant age difference and cultural diversity; one couple consists of two gay men with an adopted daughter; and the other couple is married with children.  This is a reflection of our society today.  To repeat, gay marriage is now legal in the United States.  James Twitchwill says, “Television plays a major role in our daily lives.  It not only influences our preferences, it affects our beliefn their music.s, our likes and dislikes.  It can strengthen our knowledge and broaden our perspectives.  Many different goals are achieved from the television.”

Sports can also influence public policy.  Almost all people are affected by sports.  There are youth sports, adult sports, professional sports, and supportive fans.  The violent nature of some sports has been given attention in the last several years.  Rules have been passed in football regarding targeting players, spearing in the head, and others.   It has been determined by the medical society that the danger of concussions can be detrimental to future health of the athlete.  The NCAA ConcussNFL-vector-logos-708x534ion Policy and Legislation has been put into place that ensures athletes are educated about the symptoms of a concussion.  A player showing symptoms of a concussion must be removed and evaluated by medical staff educated in concussion diagnosis.  The player cannot return to play that day and must have medical clearance to return.

Another sports concern that was given plenty of media attention this past year has been domestic violence.  This was brought to attention when Ray Rice, a member of the Baltimore Ravens, punched his wife in the Atlantic City
Hotel.  Rice was given a two- game suspension.  The public was furious. This outcry resulted in new penalties.  Now there would be a six-game suspension for the first offense and a 1 year suspension for the second.  If a player is charged with domestic violence or sexual assault, the NFL requires mandatory evaluation and counseling.  Patti Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles sexual assault, domestic violence and youth violence prevention center, said, “Those of us who work in the field of domestic violence and sexual violence can be really disheartened and upset when sports heroes who are also abusers are forgiven right out of the gate by their fans.”

All three of these pop culture icons—music, television, and sports, do affect public policy.  We have no way to measure just how much, but the huge influence and amount of time the public spends listening to music, watching television, and following or attending sporting events, does have an influence over what we think, which leads to how we vote.

Anna S.

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2 Responses to Pop Culture. Entertainment or Manipulation?

  1. govfloydd says:

    This is a brilliant paper man. I can actually dive into this paper because it is really easy to relate to. Your story really grabs me and makes me sit back and think about the entertainment industry as a whole. Lots of ideas that are debated on in the community referring to usage of drugs and other issues I often interpret through big cases with celebrities and sports players. I judge how the higher ups of associations like the NFL and NBA deal with theses situations and drain my ownn ideas from their.

  2. govmarissar says:

    In focusing on your sports section, could politics become something of a game? Or possibly voting become something of a sport itself?

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