The text I chose to highlight in today’s blog post is “Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction into Mass Communication” by Andy Schmitz. One of the questions I had while reading this article was how in the world did Jenny Lind manage to attract forty-thousand people to her arrival in the United States in 1850, while the Beatles only had three-thousand when they got off the plane in 1964? Forty-thousand seems like an enormous number considering how fast news spread in the 1850s. The Beatles could rely on telephone and television to spread the word of their arrival but Jenny Lind (someone I had never heard of) managed to attract this large number without the use of any modern-ish technology. This confounds me.
The second part of the article was equally as fascinating with its discussion of Tastemakers (those people or institutions that set the pace for what will and will not be popular) and Gatekeepers (those companies responsible for representing and managing the artist and cultures). My generation (GEN-X) has had the privilege of being sandwiched between both of the worlds that are mentioned in Schmitz article. The first being world where the audience is highly influenced by pop culture but the pop culture we were exposed to was limited to a few networks and radio stations. The second world being the modern world where we have a seemingly unlimited number of formats in which to view a sitcom and online databases of music at our fingertips. We lived in a world where in order to skip a song we had to fast forward and wait. And we now live in a world where can change albums, songs, and artists instantaneously through a simple search. Schmitz states that the wide variety of mediums, including the internet “appears to be eroding some of the tastemaking power of the traditional media.” I agree. Watching how my son views pop culture and popularity in general is proof that the cultural norms are shifting. My fifteen-year-old (and his classmates) seem to be more accepting of different genres, different social groups, they like different shows, music, and clothing. There isn’t just ONE accepted route to popularity or acceptance. There seems to be many. With more options to choose from, and with the power being taken away from certain tastemaking institutions, the younger generations seem to have more freedom to be themselves. I think this is a move in the right direction.
- Article 1: Schmitz, Andy. Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction into Mass Communication. Washington, D.C: Saylor Academy, 2012. https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_understanding-media-and-culture-an-introduction-to-mass-communication/s04-06-mass-media-and-popular-culture.html