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Popular Culture and American History Essay

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2021

Living in the modern world, people are impacted by different aspects. On the one hand, people are influenced by many situations. On the one hand, these situations influence people. There are two points of view concerning the meaning of popular culture in the United States of America since the late 1960s. Some people believe that popular culture is the reflection of the situation in social opinion about gender, race, and class.

These people are sure that the popular culture in this perspective has a positive effect and shows the society its problems, the popular culture directs the situation for better outcomes, for the reduction of the prejudices, discrimination, etc. However, there are people who believe that popular culture since the late 1960s was just the reason for rising conflicts, inequality in society in mentioned aspects, such as race, gender, and class.

I strongly believe that the popular culture has been the site of progressive, empowering, and potentially liberating ideas about race, class, and gender even though there are a lot of other specific examples which may show the contradicting opinion. Of course, all the situations and events which take place in society cannot be directed at showing one particular effect, and both negative and positive results are observed. The problem is whether the negative or positive aspects are dominating. I strongly believe that the popular culture since the late 1960s has positively influenced the development of society as people were interested in creating a new community free from prejudices and discrimination. This is exactly the direction of American society for now.

Trying to prove my position, I want to say that most of the movies, books, music, and other sources of mass information have been directed at showing people that the country has some problems and these problems are to be solved. This is not encouraging for separation of the only nation, vice versa, it is the desire to show that being absolutely different people are to find similar goals, they should search for the same ideas and interests as living on one and the same land people should be encouraged in being united.

The popular culture pursues this purpose. If you remember the band El Chicano and their hit “Viva Tirad,” you are to understand that the real nature of their songs and this piece of music, in particular, was to show the whole world the diversity of the population in Los Angeles and to express the idea of the same identity as living in the USA these people follow the same laws and they are to try to unite their attempt to become a great nation.

Getting closer to the discussion of the music by El Chicano and their hit “Viva Tirad,” it is possible to stress the main idea of this song. The racial, cultural, and political identities are presented in the music by this band. Listening to these songs, one should understand that this music is aimed at showing the diversity in society with the purpose of stressing the differences, which are to help people become interested in each other. Even being so different in age, race, culture, and other aspects, people can live in one society, and it is important to make sure that his very society is strong. It would not be wrong to consider the popular culture of 60’s and ’70s as a reflection of political and cultural issues.

The racial discrimination was rather high, and the desire to show that this is wrong is based on the desire to be united. Thus, expressing the ideas of discrimination in class, race, and gender, the singers wanted to show that they are interested in making a united society. It is impossible to say that popular culture since 60’s was directed at increasing the discrimination and separation of society.

Dwelling upon Los Angeles as one of the cities I base my discussion on, I want to say that in the 30’s this city suffered from the explosion of Mexican, African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Filipino population. This impacted the popular culture of the society as the problems these people experienced were presented in different mass media fields. These people were for uniting all the nations, it was not in their interest to separate the society and direct people on the negative attitude to different ethnicities. Therefore, it may be considered as one more argument in support of the uniting direction of the popular culture since 1960’s.

The popular culture during the Civil Rights Movement can be characterized by the rise of social opinion and the desire to unite the nations which live on the territory of the USA. Struggling for equal rights, many ethnic and racial minorities wanted to have the same rights as Native Americans. Considering the modern situation and the results of the movement, it is possible to say that the popular culture based on music, poetry, and movies was directed at the social union.

The most significant events of the Civil Rights Movement may be named the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in 1969. These two events did not pursue the goals to unite people of different nations, still, the very idea and the way the events took place showed that people of different races, classes, and gender might live together. These events during the Civil Rights Movement showed one more time that the discrimination in society should and may be eliminated. People are able to live together, and the prejudices in the society may be easily removed. This is exactly what the popular culture since the 1960s has been trying to do.

Remembering all the songs and movies which are based on the problems of gender, cultural and racial differences, it is difficult to remember the one where people of another from Native American nations are interested in social separation. It is also impossible to say that all Native Americans are interested in separation. Of course, there are people who want only Native Americans to live in their society, however, it is impossible due to the historical development of the country.

The music has always aroused a number of conflicts; however, these conflicts cannot be called the racial ones. For example, Ice Cube is a hip-hop artist who appeared in the center of the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry of the ’90s. Still, this rivalry is not based on the ethnic or racial identity of the participants, the music and ideology were the reasons for conflict. “Fuck the police” music piece by Ice Cube is one of the examples when the music expresses the attitude of some layers of population, but neither ethnical nor racial discrimination is observed.

Remembering that conflict and the ideas presented in the songs of the opposite sides, it should be mentioned that each of the participants agreed that racial and gender discrimination as well as class inequalities are the reasons for conflicts in the society and the agreed that these conflicts were to be solved. Presenting the life of those who were discriminated, telling the stories of people who lived below the poverty threshold the musicians tired to offer the idea of the unity of the races.

People are to be treated according to their personalities not for their race or ethnical identity. Such ideas cannot be called the provocative or separating. Thus, being the main aspect of the creation of the popular culture, hip hop was used for implementing the idea of racial union.

Therefore, there were some particular events which were reflected on the popular culture of the society, but they may be considered as the opposing to the point of view I am supporting. The 1992 Los Angeles riots were the social disagreement with the court decision to acquit three police officers who beat a black man for high-speed pursuit. It is important to stress on the fact that the situation was provoked by the popular culture, according to some particular opinions.

I can agree with those who say that the music and the cinematography where the ideas of the racial discrimination are discussed, where people of different ethnic groups are presented as those who constantly suffer from biased attitude and this may be reflected on the desire to present each of the situation where a back person is involved as the violation of their rights. Considering this case, many people say that the popular culture provoked the riot as in case of the absence of the hip hop culture directed at protection of ethnic minorities and the absence of the too broad discussion of the racial discrimination which is not that spread as it is spoken about, the riots could be avoided. Therefore, it is possible to say that the popular culture provoked the events of 1992 in Los Angeles and the popular culture is belived to be the reason for the country inequality.

Such reasons are usually expressed by those who are sure that the popular culture and the presentation of the racial discrimination are the reasons for national separation. It is possible to accept these reasons as in case the music and the movies were not directed at the idea that the modern society treats black people differently, the attention would not be directed that close at those people. Moreover, considering this situation with the white police officers and a black man people want to show one more time that discrimination really exists and this is the problem for the whole American nation.

However, being the strong arguments supported with evidence, I still cannot agree with them. The situation is considered from the only perspective and cannot be checked from another. The police officers reported about the resistance of the black person and there are no reasons to think that in case a man who violated the speed limit was a white one the situation would not develop in the same way. Moreover, this is wrong to refer the popular culture to the even which too place.

The racial discrimination in the modern American society is the problem which was discussed on the political level and the desire to say that the hip hop singers and other artists, poets and moviemakers who wanted to present this idea to the public should be believed as the desire to support personal opinion by means of using misleading arguments.

Popular culture cannot direct people at separating the society as the popular culture is created by these people as they direct it in the stream they want to. The opinion of people is to get rid of discrimination and to live in the society free from prejudice. Thus, those who want to become united cannot create the culture aimed at separatist moods. The popular culture is the reflection of the social ideas. Now, people in the USA want to get rid of discrimination and the idea that the biases still exist in the society. More and more movies, songs and other public activities are aimed at showing that people in the USA are free from prejudices.

The political life and the cultural events which take place in the American society also try to support the idea of discrimination free country. The popular culture is aimed at supporting the ideas of union of people as even when the artists sing about their dissatisfaction with the situation in some parts of the country, they also express their desire to correct this state of affairs, not to increase the opposition. I strongly believe that popular culture reflects the moods of the society and the union of the races, classes and genders is one of the main purposes of the American society for now.

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