Media Defining and Reflecting Culture

Waisbord’s “Media and the Reinvention of the Nation” drew the interesting parallel of media as a set of institutions involved in “the creation, maintenance, and transformation of cultural membership.” Whether nations were formed form centralized political power or a series of decentralized factors at certain historical junctures, media has had a distinct role to play in both reflecting and defining nationalism through culture.

I wanted to share some of my favorite American culture-shaping media, hoping it will instill a bit of nostalgia as much as inform those who were not a part of my generation.

Media Marking/Informing my Child and Teen Year Culture, Semblance of Nationalism:

  1. Nintendo
  2. Barbie
  3. Disney
  4. Walter Kronkite? Andy Rooney?
  5. Presidencies: George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton
  6. MTV: TRL, ABC (TGI Fridays!)
  7. Quality Films: Life is Beautiful; Shawshank Redemption; 10 Things I Hate About You
  8. Terrible, but cultural: Dude, Where’s my Car? Clerks
  9. Country, Pop, Rap Music
  10. Church of God
  11. Seinfeld, Boy Meets World
  12. Guess

Media Marking/Informing my Adult Years:

  1. Angry Birds, Wii
  2. Canon Rebel T2i
  3. Pixar, Foxlight Pictures
  4. Internet News: Daily Show, Colbert Report, Drudge, CNN, NYT, Etc
  5. Presidents: George W Bush, Barack Obama
  6. Bravo, Fox, NBC: SNL
  7. Quality Films: King’s Speech, Lord of the Rings, Anchorman
  8. Terrible, but Cultural: Superbad
  9. Pop, Indie, Country Music
  10. Emerging Church
  11. Glee, Law & Order SVU, Community
  12. Anthropologie
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2 Comments to “Media Defining and Reflecting Culture”

  1. This is an interesting way to show how much the culture in media have changed over time! It is not just your taste in media that have evolved, but it is also how media itself changed to fit our society. For example, Disney is not as popular is it was before. It used to be a channel that you would need to pay to watch, but you can watch it for free on any kind of cable channel now. More young people are shifting their focus on Wii games, play station, X Box, and the gang of “ninetendo” world. And the TV shows are more dramatic than they used to be. For example, Boy Meets World, maybe the problem in one show would be like Cory lied to his parents and they all get in a melodramatic arguement where he would run upstairs and slam his door. But now, the TV shows include teen pregnancy, doing drugs for the first time, dealing with the choice of whether to have sex or not, etc. As our generation changes with our youth, the media goes along with us as well.

  2. I think of this as kind of a chicken and an egg situation. I think it’s interesting how you think that the media follows a groups desires and not the opposite. To what extent are we creating media, or being created by it. It makes me think of Carey in chapter one where he discusses that the very act of studying media creates a certain framework that we will then use. To me it seems like this isn’t just the case with studying media but also with ones approach to it. I would argue that part of this creation and reflection done by the media is caused by the own power ascribe to it. If people watched it purely for entertainment or information and not as a way of defining in and out groups I think it would be very different from its current form.

    People have a tendency to find common ground with others in media forms and is used as a way to create relationships. This is how it was in kindergarten and it seems to be exactly the same now. Instead of people focusing on the unique and interesting characteristics a person has in order to determine weather or not they are someone they want to associate with they use the media to categorize others.

    I didn’t have cable television until I was about 14. Living in a more rural area this meant that I had access to only 5 or 6 channels, most of which didn’t offer very many kid programs. I remember struggling all through my child hood with relating to people. It started in kindergarten when everyone was playing PowerRangers and I didn’t have a clue what they were; then on into high school when people talked about what was on MTV, and now today people want to know what News channel I watch or if I saw a particular skit on Saturday Night Live. I’ve always found it interesting how the media has the power to create friendships and alliances among people who otherwise really have nothing in common.

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