Relationship between politics and popular culture images

relationship between politics and popular culture images

Popular culture (also called pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a 4 See also; 5 Notes; 6 References; 7 Further reading; 8 External links culture began to overlap with those of mass culture, media culture, image culture, Storey argued that there is a political dimension to popular culture;. Seeing the Bigger Picture (Politics, Media, and Popular Culture) [Mark popular culture can foster a deeper awareness of the political dilemmas and debates shaping He teaches classes in international relations, comparative politics, global. and popular culture on the self esteem and body image of adolescent girls. . while the relationship between the two factors can be examined, no conclusions about the in healthcare, politics, and more (Shields & Heinecken, ).

Movies and television shows and even television advertising campaigns play an important role in presenting identity such that we feel happiness, pride, and even love for our nation. Destabilising Political Identities While undoubtedly entrenching political identities, popular culture can also destabilise and reconstitute these very identities. They all explore and reflect on questions about US behaviour in the War on Terror.

They all deal with issues of inclusion and exclusion, of us versus them Doddsp. Particularly prominent are visual metaphors associated with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the theatres of war in the Middle East.

But he or she now takes on a slightly different role, one that is far more vulnerable than the invincible adventures of Batman and Superman. They are all driven by a belief in what America represents.

relationship between politics and popular culture images

Yet they do not have the boundless energy and optimism of their predecessors. The new heroes are tired, dirty and damaged. They are afflicted by the knowledge of what they have done and what they will have to do to protect America. Most importantly, the challenges that these new heroes face are not just the physical challenges that the old superheroes had to encounter and overcome.

Our new heroes confront far more difficult personal and emotional demons: We feel for how these lead characters suffer because we too live in the post era and we too experience the associated anxieties. The contours of different political narratives and identities have become more visible.

Many film and television renderings of the War on Terror no longer follow the traditional narrative arc of good versus evil. The hero no longer saves the world. The grand finale of the respective films and television shows often raises more questions about the US role in the world than it solves.

Ambiguity has become a key part of both popular culture and the popular response to it. While many viewers reacted positively to the questions brought up in films about the US role and responsibility in the War on Terror, others responded with outrage and hostility. Here, our new and more fragile heroes are met mostly with anger, disbelief, and resentment — reminding us that the seemingly homogenous American identity is much more fractured and delicate than the uniform certainty that was upheld in traditional popular culture narratives.

relationship between politics and popular culture images

In short, popular culture can engender positive emotional responses that trigger feelings of national togetherness. But it can do the opposite, too; film and television can destabilise the security of identity and evoke a confused or weakened state.

Suggesting that foreign policy behaviour is not quite as honourable or exceptional as previously thought can produce feelings of anger, anxiety, and insecurity. Disbelief is an inevitable first reaction to narratives that contradict long-held stories told about past and present behaviour.

relationship between politics and popular culture images

Challenging Political Identities We now take one further step and illustrate how non-Western popular cultures resist and challenge prevailing identities. Rather than being set up in opposition to traditional filmmaking style, non-Western movies often follow a similar narrative structure.

However, this structure is then used to present a narrative of resistance to hegemonic Western discourses about the non-West. A key part of this narrative strategy is emotions, in particular shame and resentment, humiliation and love. Feelings of shame and resentment about Western dismissals of particular non-Western identities are frequently explored through film and television, particularly in terms of triumphing over these emotions to reassert identity.

One good example of resistance to dominant identity frames and the emotional context of shame on which it is built can be found in the popular Turkish film Valley of the Wolves, which follows the formula of a Hollywood action thriller. The key difference between it and Hollywood action-thriller films, however, is that instead of the heroic US agent battling against a violent foe, the film relies on the reversal of those roles and it is the Turkish secret agent who triumphs Doddspp.

The film visualises the Turkish experience of overcoming shame in the face of a greater US power. Turkish identity is then positively reconstituted through visually defeating feelings of shame and resentment that had been tied to US-Turkish relations.

The non-West resistance to Western identity narratives is narrated through a triumph over the feelings of humiliation. Bollywood films are a good example of this dynamic: While the genre fit the generalised parameters of a rom com, much like Valley of the Wolves fit the action thriller genre, the importance of films such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is the emotional connection to the visual representations on screen.

While Western visual representations of India — most often involving mysticism, famine, drought or, more recently, call centres — can elicit feelings of humiliation, the Bollywood images of India inspire a positive affect relating to a sense of pride in how India and its values and traditions are being portrayed in film Kaurp. Love is another emotion that is used to explore non-Western identity narratives challenging hegemonic Western discourses.

This is particularly the case in South Korean films that deal with the topic of political crises surrounding the North-South Korea divide. The emotive narrative of love — togetherness, intimacy, conquering all — as part of the drive towards national unification is evident not only within popular films such as Shiri and JSA but also as a political practice in its own right Choipp.

South Korean policy towards the North is thus imbued with emotion that both extends from and is reflected in the politicised visual representations inherent in Korean popular culture.

relationship between politics and popular culture images

Drawing on an increasingly bourgeoning and sophisticated body of literature, we have highlighted how film and television shows can entrench political identities, but we also pointed out how popular culture can destabilise and even challenge these identities.

The co-constituted relationship between popular culture and political identity hinges on two particularly crucial features: More work thus needs to be done on how the politics of popular culture interacts with visual and emotional factors. There is, meanwhile, an extensive body of literature on both visual politics and on the links between emotions and politics — so much so that we cannot even begin to list, yet alone summarise, the respective contributions.

There is something inherently unique about the visual part of popular culture. Images — still or moving — work differently to words. That is their very nature.

They evoke strong reactions in viewers. And a big part of these reactions is of an emotional nature. Billed as "the world's largest amusement park," Riverview stood on acres of land on the city's northwest side. Whereas Riverview enticed an ethnically diverse array of pleasure seekers throughout its sixty-four-year popularity, the amusement park could not withstand the changing demographics that ensued in the era of racial desegregation.

As African Americans began to integrate themselves into Chicago's public life, Riverview Park lost much of its appeal. By the s, Riverview began a rapid decline as the park became the grounds for racial and gang violence.

Shortly before Riverview Park shut down on October 3,the Chicago Tribune later reported, the park's "natural defenses began to crumble. Racial tension increased in Chicago and soon ran rampant inside the park.

Urban baseball parks that grew alongside amusement parks such as Coney Island and Riverview Park encountered similar crises. Philadelphia's Shibe Park, for example, once hailed as the crown jewel of ballparks, lost much of its appeal among baseball fans during the s.

InBob Carpenter, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, removed his team from its inner-city locale.

relationship between politics and popular culture images

The owner based his decision on his conviction that baseball was no longer a "paying proposition" at Shibe Park and that the park's location in "an undesirable neighborhood" meant that white baseball fans "would not come to a black neighborhood" to see a ball game.

Similarly, Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers had resided sinceunderwent demolition in Inthe Dodgers' owner, Walter O'Malley, had announced his infamous decision to move his team west to Los Angeles, blaming an uncooperative city government in New York for his decision. While many Brooklyn residents despised O'Malley for taking away their beloved Dodgers, others understood his decision as part of a larger neighborhood transformation.

But once [blacks] started to live in the neighborhood, it was time to move out. The mass adoption of the automobile began during the s, but by the postwar period, public and private agencies concentrated their resources on the construction of an elaborate network of highways, leaving streetcars to fall into disrepair.

The disappearance of the streetcar undermined the popularity of urban ballparks, amusement parks, and other urban cultural institutions whose inner-city location lost favor with a new generation of motorists whose daily activities became increasingly dictated by the availability of parking space. As the iron tracks of the streetcar gave way to the concrete ribbons of freeways within the nation's cities, Americans parted with yet another cultural venue that had served the needs of a heterogeneous urban public.

What does it mean that these institutions began to vanish from the American cultural scene at roughly the same time? And what does it mean that people used race to explain their declining popularity?

What cultural institutions emerged in their place, and how did they surmount the racial tensions that overcame places like Coney Island and Ebbets Field?

To approach an answer to such questions requires an understanding of the larger spatial and historical contexts in which these landmarks surfaced. The amusement park, the ballpark, and the streetcar belonged to a generation of urban cultural institutions that surfaced during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their unique development unfolded under the purview of the modern industrial city, which came of age during a distinct moment within the history of capitalist urbanization.

Louis, and, further west, Denver and San Francisco also rose to prominence as major urban centers during the nineteenth century. These cities reflected the stage of technological development that delimited the spatial organization of the modern city, with its centralized pattern of urban development and its intense concentration of people and wealth.

In this context, a heterogeneous urban public forged a new kind of culture. Streetcars, amusement parks, ballparks, parks, museums, world's fairs, department stores, nickelodeons, and, later on, the movies constituted the "new mass culture" that drew on available technologies to create a set of new sensations and experiences that satisfied the changing cultural appetites of an expanding urban public.

Recently, a generation of urban cultural historians identified the contours of this new mass culture, emphasizing the ways in which it mirrored the transition from a Victorian cultural order that insisted upon the strict separation of classes, races, and sexes to a new cultural order that sanctioned promiscuous interactions among a heterogeneous assortment of urban strangers.

The agglomeration of men and women from all classes and ethnicities, otherwise known as the crowd, within the city's venues of work and play created a "heterosocial" world of urban strangers that came to characterize urban public life well into the twentieth century. The inclusiveness of modern city culture, however, was predicated on the strict exclusion of African Americans and, to a lesser extent, other racial groups.

European immigrants to the American city at the turn of the twentieth century converged on the shared spaces of work, housing, and leisure, but African Americans encountered rigid racial barriers that blocked their access to white neighborhoods and jobs in cities of both the North and the South.

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Their exclusion extended to the public venues of the new mass culture. Blacks sat in the balconies of movie theaters, just as they sat in the back of streetcars. The operators of amusement parks, nickelodeons, dance halls, and ballparks typically adopted a whites-only policy, forcing African Americans to pursue their appetite for diversion in separate and sometimes inferior cultural facilities.

When African Americans did appear in such venues, it was generally through a set of vicious misrepresentations that emphasized the innate degeneracy of "darkies" and "coons.

In short, the new mass culture reinforced a mutually constitutive relationship between public and white. A century later, however, the reconfiguration of the American city initiated the decline of both the new mass culture and its urban context and inaugurated a new paradigm of race and space.

The intersection of technological innovations, government policies, demographic upheaval, and other factors linked not by causality but rather by coincidence anticipated the arrival of the postwar urban region, which did not fully materialize until the s and s. Suburbanization, a mode of urbanization in which cities extend outward rather than upward to accommodate the spatial appetites of homeowners, retailers, and industrialists, reached a pinnacle in the years between and During the s, for example, suburbs grew at a rate ten times faster than that of central cities, while the nation's suburban population jumped from Under the patronage of a federal government that subsidized residential and industrial decentralization through an elaborate set of policies, the modern industrial city and its concentrated panoply of factories, tenement houses, and streetcars began to give way to the "postindustrial" urban region and its scattered array of industrial parks, detached single-family homes, automobiles, and freeways.

Postwar suburbanization sanctioned the formation of a new racial geography that spatialized a starker contrast between "white" and black. Jim Crow effectively blocked black access to public life at the turn of the century, but the wartime convergence of economic opportunities in urban centers incorporated nonwhite social groups into the public spaces of the American city on an unprecedented scale.

In particular, World War II initiated yet another mass migration of African Americans into the nation's cities, arguably the most significant demographic shift of the twentieth century. Fleeing a legacy of poverty and racism in the South, millions of African Americans converged on urban centers in the Northeast, Midwest, and Far West, where the wartime economy was at its most vibrant. Black migrants to the cities met substantial hostility there: If black became increasingly synonymous with urban during the war years and thereafter, suburban development after World War II sanctioned the formation of a new "white" identity.

The gains won by labor groups during the s and s created the basis for a postwar truce between labor and capital, ensconcing workers and their families in the comforts of a thriving consumer economy that centered on suburban home ownership.

Federal lending agencies such as the Veterans Administration and the Federal Housing Administration underwrote the largest mass-based opportunity for home ownership in national history. But as a racial privilege sustained by redlining, blockbusting, restrictive covenants, and municipal incorporation, as well as by outright violence, federally sponsored suburbanization removed an expanding category of "white" Americans from what deteriorated into inner-city reservations of racialized poverty.

The collusion of public policy and private practices enforced a spatial distinction between "black" cities and "white" suburbs and gave shape to what the Kerner Commission, a presidential commission appointed to assess the causes of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, identified as "two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.

InClinton wrote the song "Chocolate City" to construe black urbanization as a "takeover" of the nation's cities: We've got Newark, we've got Gary.

Somebody told me we've got L. Can't you feel my breath, heh. All up around your neck, heh heh. In contrast to the disparaging and often dehumanizing portraits of the racialized inner city issued by the nation's leading social scientists, "Chocolate City" asserts the strength of the black ghetto as a bulwark against the hostility of a racist society: Whereas Parliament's hit provides a cultural clue to the urbanization of black identity after World War II, this book explores the cultural expressions that mirrored the suburbanization of white culture and consciousness during the postwar period.

Through a tradition of racial segregation, chocolate cities have been present throughout various stages of urban history in the United States, but vanilla suburbs did not become a broadly inclusive way of life until the decades following World War II. What role popular culture played in the formation of a suburban white identity, and how that identity was created, consumed, and contested by various social groups, is the subject of this book.

As the civil rights movement gathered steam and the challenge to racial segregation inserted African Americans and other nonwhite social groups into the public spaces of industrial urbanism, a new "new mass culture" took shape, one that reflected and reinforced the burgeoning racial order of the postwar urban region.

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Movies, theme parks, freeways, ballparks, television, and shopping malls highlighted the cultural landscape of chocolate cities and vanilla suburbs and shaped the development of a racialized political culture in a period of intense social change.

In the process of developing land on the perimeter of the metropolis, an expanding generation of suburban Americans exercised their preference for a landscape that epitomized homogeneity, containment, and predictability, one that marked a safe contrast to the heterosocial, unpredictable, and often dangerous cultural experiences of industrial urbanism. These values underlie the new spatial culture of suburbia: The reconfiguration of race and space in postwar America and the accompanying transition from public to private modes of entertainment anticipated the formation of a new political culture that gestated in suburban Southern California as far back as the late s.

That seemingly apolitical sites such as theme parks, freeways, ballparks, and motion pictures evidenced a changing political sensibility becomes clearer in the following chapters, in part through the recurring presence of a man who spearheaded the assault on what is now commonly described as the New Deal order.

In the midst of his political metamorphosis from New Deal liberal to tax-cutting conservative, Ronald Reagan mastered new media technologies to affiliate himself with the spectacles of Southern California's new "new mass culture.

Popular culture

In his thirty-year ascent to the White House, Reagan espoused patriarchy, privatization, patriotism, law and order, hard work, and self-help, modeling a new political subjectivity set against the tenets of New Deal liberalism and personifying the values incubated within the spaces wrought by suburbanization, urban renewal, and highway construction.

Each chapter of this book explores an aspect of the new "new mass culture" to understand the formation of an inclusive suburban "white" identity after World War II and its political sensibility. Chapter 2 considers the setting: Los Angeles in the decades between and Though Los Angeles harbored its own versions of the new mass culture that dated back to the turn of the century, the region's accelerated pattern of suburban development after World War II sanctioned a new set of cultural institutions that marked a clear departure from, if not an outright rejection of, the heterosocial experiences of industrial urbanism.

For several reasons, Los Angeles provides an ideal context for studying the post-World War II formation of sub urban popular culture.

First, although suburbanization profoundly transformed the nature of urban life throughout the nation, Los Angeles debuted as the "it" city of postwar America, accommodating a vast influx of newcomers and garnering a disproportionate share of federal investments.

In the decades following World War II, Los Angeles became the prototypical example of the postwar urban region, exhibiting a broader pattern of Sunbelt urbanization taking shape in the South and Far West. Second, the unique social mix of Los Angeles, conditioned by its proximity to Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, provides a fascinating context for understanding how diverse peoples—midwesterners, Jews, Italians, "Okies" and "Arkies," Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, African Americans—confronted the racial binary that shaped the reality and representation of the postwar urban region.

Third, the rise of Los Angeles in the early decades of the twentieth century coincided with the national ascendance of the new mass culture, while the development of a powerful "culture industry" profoundly shaped the texture of urban life in twentieth-century Southern California.

These factors sited an emerging political culture that upheld a privatized, consumer-oriented subjectivity premised upon patriarchy, whiteness, and suburban home ownership. Chapters 3 and 4 explore the dialectic between inner-city decline and suburban growth through the lens of popular culture. Just as whiteness has historically defined itself relative to blackness, the cultural manifestations of vanilla suburbs relied on the lurid imagery of chocolate cities.

Chapter 3 explores the relationship between urban identity and cinematic representation, focusing primarily on representations of Los Angeles in film noir. Although noir's seductive style and aesthetic innovations have drawn much attention from film scholars, few have situated noir in a sociohistorical framework.

As white flight and industrial decentralization denuded the physical and social landscape of the inner city, Hollywood marketed spectacles of urban decline as mass entertainment. Set amid the littered streets, dark alleys, and decaying buildings of the downtown, film noir represented the postwar crisis of the public city through its narratives of social disorder and psychological malaise.

Translated literally as "black film," film noir anticipated the "racial turn" that informed the white suburban backlash against New Deal liberalism in the s. Its implicit and explicit racial connotations dramatized popular anxieties about the "blackening" of the postwar American city and underscored the imperative for what became a central tenet in the ideology of the New Right: This chapter concludes with a consideration of the urban science fiction film, which posited a menacing vision of urban chaos.

Its portrait of aliens invading and annihilating Los Angeles alludes to the racialized "imagination of disaster" that informed popular perceptions of urban life during the postwar period. If noir dramatized the postwar crisis of the public city, Disneyland encapsulated the utopian aspirations of the suburban society, which brings us to chapter 4.

The amusement park marked a cultural focal point of industrial urbanism, but Walt Disney reinvented it based on his dissatisfaction with Coney Island and its generation of amusement parks. Disney's selection of Anaheim as the site for building Disneyland suited the burgeoning culture of suburban whiteness that during the postwar period inundated places such as Orange County, a region that favored the political likes of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater during the s.

For a suburban public deeply unfamiliar with its new environment, yet seeking alternatives to the modern city and its culture, Disneyland provided answers to troubling questions about identity, community, and city that preoccupied postwar Americans. Through its emphasis upon race as a central "theme," its regimented ordering of space, its insistence on family entertainment, and its privileging of a small-town midwestern sensibility, Disneyland repudiated the slums of noir imagination, supplied a usable past, present, and future for Southern California's transient and mobile population, and modeled popular idealizations of race and space in the age of white flight.

The remaining chapters take up the simultaneous debut of other cultural institutions of the postwar urban region, exploring how they embodied some of the more complex negotiations that ensued in that decentralized social landscape. If Disneyland and film noir reflected and reinforced the formation of a suburban white consciousness, the construction of Dodger Stadium and the implementation of a freeway system revealed the subtle tensions embedded within that process.

Chapter 5 explores the arrival of the Brooklyn Dodgers in Los Angeles in and the subsequent construction of Dodger Stadium in the Chavez Ravine to consider the relationship between popular culture and another salient feature of postwar urbanization: Like suburbanization, urban renewal hastened the racial and spatial polarization of postwar Southern California, and the imposition of Dodger Stadium upon a working-class Chicano community nourished the regional development of a racialized political culture.

The westward migration of the Brooklyn Dodgers signified the shifting paradigms of race and space in postwar America, as racial succession dislodged the Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field and racial dislocation under the guise of urban renewal placed them in Los Angeles' Chavez Ravine. As the nation's first racially integrated ball club, the Dodgers elicited the patronage of various racial and ethnic groups, but the substitution of Dodger Stadium for Ebbets Field reveals not only the westward drift of cultural capital, but also how the spatial culture of postwar suburbia redefined the public experience of spectator sports as well as that of the inner city itself.

The substitution of Dodger Stadium for Ebbets Field was part of a larger transformation in the experience of public life, not unlike the way in which the postwar displacement of streetcars by freeways introduced a new way of moving through the city. Chapter 6 begins with a brief consideration of the disappearance of the streetcar from the streets of Los Angeles during the s and s and then considers its substitution by a unified network of freeways.

A chapter on freeways in a book about popular culture may seem anomalous, but, designed to accommodate popular demands for autonomous mobility, the freeway became a defining cultural experience of the postwar urban region.

Unlike the streetcar, which promoted contact among urban dwellers and provided a window onto the city's distinct neighborhoods, the freeway severed the commuter from his urban context and furthered the distance, literally and figuratively, between chocolate cities and vanilla suburbs.

The freeway's production, however, elicited a complex reaction from an expanding public. Within the expansive terrain of the dominant culture, the freeway joined theme parks, shopping malls, and housing developments as a centerpiece of a new suburban good life, celebrated for its progress and modernity.

Working-class communities of color, however, utilized a more meager set of cultural resources to posit a countervision of freeways, which prefigured the outrage that informed the social movements among blacks and Chicanos during the s. These cultural shifts—from Coney Island to Disneyland, Ebbets Field to Dodger Stadium, streetcars to freeways—paralleled two other cultural developments that are beyond the scope of this study.

First, television rose as a powerful cultural phenomenon during the postwar period, and it fit squarely within the spatial culture of postwar suburbia. Recent scholarship has situated television in the cultural context of postwar America, and this study draws upon those insights.

As postwar suburbanization encapsulated American consumers within the private space of the home, television offered a simulation of public experience minus the risks that accompanied an evening out on the town. Moreover, by placing an electronic box at the center of domestic space, television reinforced the cultural emphasis on the nuclear family that resonated throughout the cultural milieu of postwar America.

To reiterate Marshall McLuhan's insistence that "the medium is the message," the private experience of watching television reinforced the postwar retreat from public life not unlike the way in which theme parks, freeways, and ballparks removed suburban audiences from the landscape of daily life in the city.