The Advantages and Disadvantages
of Popular Culture
By Lucy Adams
The concept of "pop culture" has long been an integral part of our lives. It characterizes modern society as a consumer society, in which even such timeless things as art and literature are built on a commercial basis.
There is a stereotype that products of mass culture are neither high-quality nor high-moral. It is assumed that pop culture does not create anything new but just simplifies high culture to the form appropriate for mass consumption. But then the question arises: Why does popular culture remain in demand over decades? Maybe, not all that bad?
Let’s consider this phenomenon a little more objectively together with Lucy Adams, an expert essay writer.
What is Pop Culture?
In modern slang, popular culture is a mainstream, or such a culture that is in demand and highly popular among a wide range of customers. It’s accessible and understandable to everyone, whether it’s expressed in art, fashion, literature, sports, entertainment, lifestyle or any other form. We can say that every person is involved in the development of mass culture since it does not require special knowledge and skills. Every of us contributes to the development of pop culture when using social networks, mobile gadgets, as well as by creating something new or covers on already existed products.
But the greatest source of pop culture is media, through which it spreads at the speed of light, grabbing the attention of the various sectors of the population and overcoming all sorts of geographic conventionalities.
Why is Pop Culture So Simple and Accessible?
In fact, it’s a purely commercial product with the main task to earn as much money as possible. Well, that’s possible only in case of high interest among a wide range of consumers. And, as I already said, media and advertising play a huge role in popularizing the products of mass culture.
Advantages of Pop Culture
From all the above, we can say that the first advantage of mass culture is its universal accessibility as a result of commercialization.
Another advantage (quite controversial) is that pop culture often uses products of high culture as a basis. This leads not only to an increase in the prestige of the newly formed mainstream but also awakening the interest of consumers to the original high culture – previously little-known works of art. A controversial question is whether the high culture loses its elite status once integrated with popular culture?
In my opinion, it doesn’t. Things that were created under the patronage of high culture and had been recognized by many generations remain unshakeable masterpieces while the products of their symbiosis with pop culture will rather relate to pop culture than to high culture.
The well-known Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" is, perhaps, one of the most frequently used images in popular culture (from memes in social networks to large advertising campaigns). "Mona Lisa" does not lose its uniqueness and soul, but memes and advertising campaigns don’t get too much additional value from the famous painting. And this is a key feature of pop culture:
- High culture may come down to the level of pop culture, but pop culture will never be able to rise to the level of the high culture.
Mass culture has one more important dignity from the perspective of globalization – covering all areas of life and all segments of the population, erasing national, geographic, ethnic, and social boundaries, it promotes a sense of unity of people in the world, enabling them to communicate in one language, be it pop music, pop literature, pop TV or anything else. We can only choose from what we know and enjoy the fact that we have free access to it.
Regarding personal opinion, it may be different if a person is able to think differently from conformist views.
Disadvantages of Pop Culture
The shortcomings are obvious as well. Some of them have already been reflected at the beginning of the paper (namely its quality, weak moral component, and lack of originality). However, pop culture has some more disadvantages:
- First and foremost, pop culture distorts the cultural values, substitute eternal with short-term, and creates a seductive world of pleasures and passing ideals, endless happy moments. This makes society disoriented spiritually, gives rise to misconceptions about morality, and promotes a stereotyped way of life.
- Secondly, products of pop culture have a very short life cycle. Being commercial offers, products of mass culture become obsolete as quickly as becomes popular, although the demand for pop culture is always high. This makes unreasonable to be guided by the ideals of mass culture because they are changing every single day.
- Thirdly, pop culture creates a cult of a specific product (as a result of extensive advertising and PR campaigns), which leads to dependence on the idol’s image and loss of individuality (at least – a weak self-expression through the elements of popular culture). This leads to the depletion of the creative potential of the society, the stagnation in the cultural sphere and as a consequence, to the decline of society as a whole. A society that eats only mass culture is doomed to degradation.
After considering both sides of the pop culture, we can try to answer the previously stated question "Why does popular culture remain in high demand over decades?"
In my opinion, it is possible for the simple reason that the producers of mass culture sensitively react to the mood of the current society. As a result, they create products that are relevant to the needs at the moment. The mass consumer, in turn, can’t pass up the opportunity to feel like a part of a single organism.
Although the demand for popular culture is high, there will always be people who create something truly worthwhile and original due to a sense of protest or a simple desire to create something better. And this will be a different culture destined to develop the society and new high culture.