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Popular culture has assumed numerous definitions from being regarded as common culture, folk culture, to popular culture; and all these definitions have varied across time in history (English Department, University of California p.1).
The post-War American society has experienced advent and growth of popular culture at almost every point in history of the country. In this post-war period, America’s popular culture became a reflection and representation of commercial culture characterized by all its elements such as movies, television, radio, cyberspace, advertising, toys, and almost every commodity that qualify for purchase.
In addition, the popular culture was demonstrated in different forms of art, photography, games, and even collective groups such comet watching and rave dancing (English Department, University of California p.1). Advent of television stirred the American population as leisure time shifted to TV watching, consuming the largest part of people’s time.
The reason why this study is important
John Store in the book ‘Cultural studies and the study of popular culture’ notes that television is the popular cultural form that characterizes the 21st century (Storey p.9). The author further asserts that television has evolved as world’s most popular leisure activity where in USA, about 67 per cent of the population watch television daily while 98 per cent of the population own television sets (Storey p.9).
On average, it has been estimated that Americas spend about seven years of their entire lives watching television (Storey p.9). Since the advent of mass consumption of television products in USA, many writers have postulated how TV watching has had the negative effects to young people, but this essay paper demonstrate that, even with advent of mass consumption of TV products, young people have acquired some valuable aspects in terms of values, norms, and product cultural aspects from watching television.
The rise of television in America was accompanied by rise and change in consumer market as advertising became the center stage in promoting products. Television caused more leisure revolutions especially in homestead by even modifying the architecture of the homes as spatial arrangements of houses changed with need to shift and enlarge sitting rooms necessary for ample TV watching (Anon p.1).
TV modified the eating habits of the Americans, as many people, while watching TV’s, requested for snacks, convenience and finger foods, together with other things like TV dinners and TV trays (Anon p.1). On overall, TV modified how Americans utilized their free time and a new age of information was born that for long time has changed what information is available to people and how people can access it (Anon p.1).
In contrast, TV watching in Asian countries has steadily evolved as a popular culture, which is being embraced by young populations in these countries. China is one country that TV watching has become a form culture to children, adolescents, and adults. However, as compared to USA culture, watching television programs in China is controlled and regulated by the state, a situation that has forced some young people to resort to internet television where they watch downloaded TV programs (Contact Music Ltd p.1).
The effect of TV watching or TV culture in China has less impact as compared to that of USA – where there is less regulation of TV programming. However, in the two cultures, TV watching has increased consumerism, an issue that has raised concerns from stakeholders (Contact Music Ltd p.1).
Television popularity among children resulted into many of them substituting it with other important things like physical exercises and extra-timer reading in order to watch television (Great Britain, House of Commons Committee p.163). Therefore, television became a dominant aspect in the lives of the children, while at the same time, it became a major influence on children’s values and behaviors, together with impacting on children health and education achievement (Great Britain, House of Commons Committee p.163). TV replaced parents and teachers as educators, role models, and primary source of information concerning the world as well as how to behave.
Moreover, TV was preferred as it was the true avenue children and young people could find all the above. As reality encroached in young people and children could not differentiate between fantasy on television and reality, and consequently, they became victims of thousands of advertisements that promoted alcohol, junk foods, fast foods, toys, and all forms of crime comedies (Great Britain, House of Commons Committee p.163).
In essence, advertisement arouses curiosity of feelings of missing something, thus the need to be acquired. Hence, with TV commercial advertisements, there came more violence among young population, while sexuality issues, certain stereotypes, and drugs and alcohol abuse became dominant themes on television (Great Britain, House of Commons Committee p.163).
On contrary, Carole L. Edelman and Carol L. Mandle in their book titled ‘Health Promotion through the life span’ note that television watching was and has not always exhibited and promoted negative aspects, but rather, some positive aspects exist (Edelman and Mandle p.14).
For instance, the author points to children programs such as ‘Mr. Rogers’, Neighborhood’, and ‘Reading Rainbow’, together with other programs such as ‘Call It Macaroni’, ‘Seventh Heaven’, and ‘Full House’ as some of the developmental programs that impact positive aspects among children (Edelman and Mandle p.14).
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In conclusion, it can be said that, research on popular culture is diverse as more themes of popular culture exist, hence require in-depth investigations especially with regard to cross-cultural research of the impact of television watching.
Nevertheless, television as popular culture is seen to be an important area of research, as more literature exists on the negative aspects of television on young children. What lacks is adequate and empirically supported research to show that, as much criticism about television impact on young children would want justification, in the same realm, there exists positive aspects that television transmit to young children.
Anon. “Popular Culture.” Popular Culture. Web.
Contact Music Ltd. 300 Million Watching TV on Laptops in China. 2010. Web.
Edelman, Carole L. and Mandle, Carol L. Health promotion throughout the life span. ML: Elsevier Health Sciences. 2005. Web.
English Department, University of California. “Pop Culture.” English Department, University of California. Web.
Great Britain, House of Commons Committee. The Government’s Public Health White Paper (Cm 6374): Written Evidence. London: The Stationery Office. 2005. Web.
Storey, John. Cultural studies and the study of popular culture. Georgia: University of Georgia Press. 2003. Web.