Sangeetha (1537257): The Popular Cult of Pop Culture

Kurlansky, Mark J. “Pop Goes the Culture.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 9.6 (1977): 36-39. JSTOR. Web. 09 June 2016.

The author attempts to locate Leslie Fiedler between two contradictory opinions of Popular Culture as expressed by Berger and Gowans respectively. He examines the treatment of the area by Berger and then by Gowans and proceeds to justify his placement of Fiedler between two ends of the spectrum.

Berger, he believes, is one of the earliest teachers of Pop Culture as a subject (36), he says:

Berger believes that Popular Culture is manipulating us, reshaping our lifestyles, and molding our children. As an educator, he hopes to fracture the media’s omnipotence through greater understanding of the subcutaneous messages that are slipped to us in massive doses. Berger hopes to arm his students to resist through comprehension.(37)

Presenting the opposite view, he cites Gowans, who believes that Art as a subject must be studied horizontally (38). He says of him:

He does not believe that the study of popular art is valid as an end in itself. . Popular Culture is used as the only available modern reference point to demonstrate how art traditionally functioned in a given epoch. (37)

Fiedler, he says makes no distinction between high and low art (38). In talking of Fiedler’s views on televison as an enjoyable activity and a legitimate art form, he contrasts Berger’s views of television and advertising as a diabolical element. He informs us:

Fiedler is more concerned with Berger’s concern. He sees the attack on television violence as a continuation of the impulse to censorship that art has always had to endure censorship not only of violence, but also of sex, sentimentality, and “irreverent humor.” (39)

In quoting Fiedler’s position, the author likens the growing fame of Pop Culture to the success of the penny novel and thereby brings in the role of technology in shaping the tastes of the society. He is of the opinion that there is a desperate need for a discipline with the ability to keep up with mass culture, and he believes that Popular Culture can achieve that.


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