Popular culture is defined as the combination of images, ideas, views, perspectives and other specific items connected with the representation of the culture of the particular period of time. Popular culture usually defines the Western culture of the 20th century. Popular culture reflects the everyday life of the society, and historian and cultural critic George Lipsitz argues that popular culture “ain’t no sideshow” (Lipsitz 1).
The statement is really correct as it is possible to agree that popular culture is created on the basis of the everyday life and the considerations of people who live in this time. Thus, considering the popular culture on the Western territory, it is possible to state that there the great period may be divided into many particular time periods which reflect some specific events.
Looking at the history of the USA, it is possible to distinguish three brightest periods in the popular culture which may be discussed, World War II, the 1950s, and the Civil Rights Movement. There are a lot of examples during these time periods which may be considered as the brightest samples and reflection of the popular culture of the USA.
Some of these examples may be challenging and reinforcing domination of race, gender, and national identity and they are presupposed to garner different meanings based on their consumption or production. Being the reflection of the culture of one and the same particular nation during the same century, the examples we are going to discuss are rather varied and have particular characteristics as they were created under the impact of different events.
Considering the World War II, the popular culture may be characterized by the increase of mass media and cinematography. The war ideas have encouraged many people for creating new movies devoted to the war battles and other aspects of life connected with this period of time.
The problems discussed in the movies and considered in the TV shows and newspapers were connected with the war battles with the representation of the life of the soldiers. Additionally, the greatest moral and ethical problems were raised.
Thus, remembering the movies which were shot during the World War II, it is possible to point the following problems which were considered there, such as patriotism of American people, heroism of simple people and statement of various wartime problems. The anti-fascism ideas in the movies may be considered as the domination of the personal national identity which is really important for supporting the idea of patriotism.
The whole World War II period denotes the war themes which are considered within many aspects of social life, however strengthening movies and TV shows, we want to stress on the spread of these multimedia items and domination of the vide over other means of information delivery.
The most interesting and striking examples of the movies which consider the war themes and denote the popular culture of the period are as follows. The ideas of anti-Nazism and Anti-Fascism are expressed in the famous movie of wartime, Casablanca (1942).
Heroism and Patriotism may be seen in the following motion pictures, as For Me and My Gal (1942), In Which We Serve (1942), Guadalcanal Diary (1943) and The Fighting Sullivans (1944). Various wartime problems may be considered in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Since You Went Away (1944) and many other movies which express similar ideas and consideration.
Therefore, it may be concluded that the popular culture of the period of the World War II was denoted in the movies and TV programs which expressed the historical situation in the county and in the whole world.
The 1950’s differ greatly from the World War II time period. The after war period is connected with the raise of the music culture and especially jazz. People began to express their feeling through music. The music is fulfilled with the feelings and emotions of those who perform it. National and racial problems are denoted in the music. There are many different streams of music which expressed the ideas which were raised in the society. As it has already been mentioned, the problems of racial and national identity were raised.
People felt that the expression of their considerations via music may be much better heard in the society that usual newspaper announcements and declarations. Simple people perceive various ideas through the entertainment and it may be stated that those who listened to that music to those ideas and jazz was really popular and it was heard.
Additionally, much attention is paid to education where students are taught from books the culture and the ideas which might be different from what was happening. The music denoted the ideas of the lower layers of the population, those people who did not have an opportunity to take the floor and to express their ideas in public. However, jazz was not the main stream in the development of the popular culture.
The Kings of the pop music began their careers in 1950s as well as the representatives of the greatest musicians and bands of the rock-n-roll stream. The popular culture of 1950’s gave popularity to Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Johnnie Ray, Kay Starr, Elvis Presley, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, and many other musicians.
The period of the Civil Rights Movement is characterized by the raise of the desire to be equal. It is important to remember that even though the after war period is characterized by the equality and democracy, the prejudiced attitude to African-American remained rather strong. The Hip Hop in music is not just the direction, trend or genre, this is the popular culture.
Each new song, each new appearance on the scene of the Hip Hop performers was considered as the movement to the equality. The ideas of different forms of discrimination and violence were aimed at making people think about their life and the way they treat others. Music was not the only way black people used to express their ideas. The behavior, the style of cloths and particularly the style of life they lead made it important for them to support the Hip Hop culture.
Considering these three time periods, it is important to state that the main ideas of the popular culture were provoked by the political and economical situation in the country. The war, the after war raise of economics and the civil rights movement are the country’s social and political problems which are perfectly expressed in the society via different media presented as the popular culture.
The main similarity is that the popular culture is impacted by the social and political situation in the world, as well as the way of the expression is similar. The media and the entertainments items as the main ways of the information delivery are used for making people see the changes and real estate of the problems in the American society.
Lipsitz, George. Time passages: collective memory and American popular culture. New York: U of Minnesota Press, 2001. Print.