APAEP Summer 2011
Pop culture, such as movies and films, can serve as tools for creating cultural commentary and satire, can engage with serious social and political issues, and create deep arguments even in the silliest of pieces. In this paper, you will explore how pop culture addresses specific discourses and cultural issues. We will examine how mainstream American pop culture influences cultures both in America and around the world.
For this assignment, you will create an argument for how a piece of pop culture is addressing a specific issue, culture, or discourse, why, and the ramifications of the interactions between audience, pop culture piece, and discourse communities.
In this course, we will explore issues with pop culture, how certain elements stereotype, subjugate, encourage, discourage, liberate or complicate other cultures and discourse communities. For this paper, you will not need to do any outside research. You can think about one (or two) song, book, comic, cartoon character, jingle, advertisement, painting, image, etc and analyze how it either influences other cultures, or has been influenced by dominant elements of American pop culture. You will create an argument based on the significance of your pop culture piece(s) and support this argument in a 3-5 page paper.
Questions to get you thinking about this paper: Why do you usually watch/listen to/read your piece? For entertainment? To relax? To laugh? To learn something new? Do you usually watch/listen to/read it alone, or with family or friends? What “deeper meaning” do you think can be found in your piece? Think of a piece which changed the way you thought about an issue. How did it do so? What questions do you have/what information do you feel you need in order to be able to write this paper?
Examples: For this paper, we (DeElla and Stacey) might write about the impact McDonald’s fast food chains have had on American culture, or on a specific part of American culture. The ability to obtain cheap, fast food which is guaranteed to be virtually the same at any restaurant all over the country led to a more homogenous (without diversity) and is also cited as a significant factor in obesity among Americans. These are a few of the issues we might discuss in a paper about McDonalds.
Another example is video games. In this paper, we might explore the significance of one specific game, such as Call of Duty, a first-person shooter game which focuses on war and killing. We might argue that video games have resulted in fewer teenagers reading and playing outside, making the childhood of the current generation very different from that of previous generations. We would then explore why this is significant to our culture, or how it has influenced other cultures. Is this a distinctly American phenomenon?