Pop Culture and Ideology

It’s common to assume American popular culture leads only to mindless escape, but in a recent speech to Communist Party officials President Hu Juntao of China warned that American popular culture might have a much more dangerous effect. He noted that Transformers 3 was a top-grossing film in China and also that the songs of Lady Gaga were as popular as those of any Chinese singer. Hu suggested the United States and other nations are westernizing and dividing China as he spoke and pop cultural works were weapons in this onslaught. Hu urged the Chinese to understand the seriousness of the struggle for Chinese cultural integrity and to always “sound the alarms and remain vigilant.”

Perhaps Hu is exaggerating the dangers, especially with regard to the fundamental aspects of Chinese culture. It’s hard to imagine Transformers 3 doing much damage to Confucian ethics or the Chinese sense of community and solidarity. However, Hu is correct when he suggests popular culture can and routinely does promote certain values and modes of behavior. It is highly normative. Popular culture – films, television shows, cheap literature – have the potential to function ideologically, and consumers of popular culture in China as well as in the United States are encouraged to “get on board” with the social world popular culture imagines and promotes.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Joe Morales

    It is agreed that films, music, and other forms of media can promote behaviors and values, but as stated above a movie like “Transformers 3” really doesn’t have much of an impact on a country or their values. What is seen and accepted here will almost always differ from those of other countries and how the values and impact of Western media outlets have. Great post!

  2. Kimberly Stevenson


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