Topic 1: Post-Modernism
Topic 1: Post-Modernism MC 101-740
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by Destiny Giebe on Thursday January 21, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to MC 101-740 at Southeast Missouri State University taught by Frederick Christopher Jones in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 58 views. For similar materials see Mass Comm & Society in Journalism and Mass Communications at Southeast Missouri State University.
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Date Created: 01/21/16
Mass Media: Post-Modernism Many critics look at popular culture with disdain. They complain that today's art simply re-hashes the great works of the past. Take Shakespeare for example. How many of his classic plays have been adapted to the present day? Josh Whedon creates a hip new version of "Much Ado About Nothing." "Warm Bodies" turns "Romeo and Juliet" into a zombie romance. This trend of recycling is one of the main characteristics of post-modernism. Post-modernism is a philosophy - a way of thinking. It's ambiguous, which makes it hard to define. The philosopher Nietzsche said, "The truth is, there is no truth”. This overall sense of nihilism permeates post-modern culture. You can see it in art, literature, fashion, architecture - and the media. Before we get too overboard with talk about ambiguity and nihilism, maybe we should back up and talk about when post-modernism began. THE TIME FRAME OF POST-MODERNISM Most people feel that the post-modern era began around 1960. The decade of the 60s was tumultuous - it was a time of war, assassinations and hippies. Belief in our society was becoming difficult. In order to understand postmodernism, it is sometimes helpful to compare it to modernism. Let's take a brief look at what was going on in society during the modern and postmodern eras: Industrial Revolution vs. Information Revolution The modern era began with the Industrial Revolution, which started around 1800. During this time, the world saw the development of mechanical inventions; the printing press, steam engines, assembly lines. In the post-modern world, we are shifting from mechanical innovation to technological innovation. This is an age of computers and information; the Internet, smart phones, and Fitbits. Isolationism vs. Globalism In the modern era, America was a developing power, so it often tended to isolate itself from the rest of the world. The difficulties of travel and communication also made it difficult for countries to come together. In the post-modern era, the world has become smaller. We are now seeing integration between nations - the United Nations, the European Union, NATO. The term "global village" has been used to describe our world - and it's an accurate description. Homogeneous Society vs. Fragmented Society In modern society, culture was determined by the values of the white middle class. This group had common goals, common dreams. In this society, the man works and the wife stays at home with three kids. And the views of other groups are kept under the surface. Post-modern society is seeing an end to this. Minorities now make up a significant majority. The old system is being rejected in favor of fragmentation and openness to alternative views. MODERN ERA Industrial Isolationism Homogeneous Revolution Culture POST-MODERN Information Fragmented ERA Revolution Globalism Culture MODERNISM VS. POST-MODERNISM There are many significant contrasts between modern and post-modern culture. Here are six keys to understanding modern and post-modern culture. Keep in mind these are generalizations, so they won't apply to everything. 1. Originality vs. Reproduction In modern culture, artists still believed in the originality of their own creations. They felt their art could be something that had never been done before - and they often accomplished this. If you've ever taken an art appreciation class, you were probably exposed to many of the unique movements of the modern era - impressionism (Monet), post- impressionism (Van Gogh), cubism (Picasso), abstract (Pollack). If you took wood shop instead, you'll just have to trust me. However, as our society has shifted to a post-modern culture, the notion of the artist as a unique visionary is being attacked. In this post-modern world, everything has already been done - there are no new ideas. One French philosopher (Lyotard) commented that today's artist "is merely a competent re- arranger of already existent patterns, signs and codes.” Simply put, we're a bunch of copycats. For this reason, post-modernism is often referred to as "The Xerox Age." All art is simply a copy of something else. That might sound a little cynical, but if the shoe fits, wear it (okay, I copied that line from someone else). In the music industry, artists sample directly from older songs or just remake them altogether - like Katy Perry doing an acoustic version of the all-time classic "Whip My Hair." Now I can't listen to the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" without having nightmares about Marilyn Manson. What about the movies? It's getting difficult to see a film that doesn't copy from another work. Recently, we have seen countless sequels ("Sharknado 2: The Second One"), remakes ("Secret in Their Eyes") and movies based on books or comics ("Batman v Superman"). Television? Does "Big Brother 17" ring a bell? If one network has success with a show, like "American Idol" on Fox, then every other network will line up to copy the formula - like "The Voice" or "America's Got Talent". Or networks might spin off popular shows. Personally, I'm looking forward to the new hit CBS drama "CSI: Cape Girardeau." Want to learn more about art in Yikes! Talk about the modern era? Start with this recycling. Marilyn Manson cool site devoted to the work of remakes old songs, looks like Vincent van Gogh. Alice Cooper - even his name is borrowed from Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. 2. Heroes vs. Celebrities Hero worship was a lot different in the old days. In the modern world, many of society's heroes were presidents, soldiers and innovators. Often these heroes were just ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Political figures still seemed trustworthy to the public in the modern world. My how things have changed. Our society became disillusioned with these traditional heroes after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. These heroes have since been replaced by celebrities (pop stars, actors, sports figures). Go ask your 12-year-old brother who his hero is - I doubt he'll say the governor. Odds are he'll idolize Stephen Curry. A 12-year-old girl? Sorry Hillary Clinton, but you lost big to Taylor Swift. 3. Distrust of Technology vs. Acceptance of Technology Modern culture really began with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Industry became more efficient, shifting towards mass production, assembly lines and large work forces. However, many people felt this new reliance on machines would take away our humanity, in effect turn us into machines. While these new industries were making our lives easier, they were also alienating us from one another. In general, post-modern culture accepts and even embraces technology.It has opened up a world of information to us. It gives us the ability to communicate on a global level. One complaint of our techno-society is that face-to-face communication is being replaced by e-mail and text messages. Say hello to today's Charlie Chaplin's Modern heroine. Lady Gaga is a Times (1936), examined the postmodern hero for many dehumanizing effects of young girls. May God have industry on the individual - a mercy on us all. characteristic of modernism. 4. Social Optimism vs. Social Pessimism People in the modern era tended to be more optimistic than our current era. Why are we so depressed? We have indoor plumbing, cell phones, and Cap'n Crunch. Some of this pessimism springs from the current economic situation. Our generation is really the first one that may not be financially better off than our parents. Everyone has been inundated by the terms "Generation X” and "Generation Y”, but these labels do seem to reflect many of the current attitudes of society. If you examine the culture of these two eras, the music, movies and TV shows, you can see the difference. When you think of 1950s and 1960s TV shows, what comes to mind? "I Love Lucy," "Leave it to Beaver" and "Andy Griffith". These shows saw the world with innocent eyes. Ultimately, the message was optimistic and uplifting. I doubt there was ever an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" where the "Beave" decided to "bust a cap" in the school bully. Modern culture offered hope - postmodern culture is bleak. Our films and TV shows have become permeated with violence. In Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," comedy and violence become blurred - you're not sure whether to laugh or be horrified. The "gee-whiz" TV families of the 50s have been replaced by the Kardashians. The modern The post-modern The modern dad: The post-modern kid: "Golly Dad, I kid: "I got arrested "I'm proud of you dad: "Who f***ing got an A in math!" for carrying a son." cares?" knife." 5. Distinct Culture and Morality vs. Ambiguous Culture and Morality In the modern world, culture and morality were linked to the values of white middle-class America. Common religious values created the foundation for a common morality. If you examine the music, films and TV shows of that era, most will cater to that group. The Biblical epics of Cecil B. DeMille, like "The Ten Commandments," were some of the highest grossing films of the period. There is a mixing of cultures in today's post-modern society. If you listen to the Top 40 each week, you're sure to hear songs of vastly different styles. There is no longer one culture that dominates the mass media. With this blending of cultures, morality is becoming blurred as well, because different cultures have different values. This is often called the "anything goes” society, because the difference between right and wrong is less clear. Today, the truth is relative. 6. Individual Freedom vs. Individual Constraint In modernism, the individual has control over their actions - freedom is attainable. One of the most famous movie stars of the modern era, John Wayne, is the complete embodiment of this theme. No one would be stupid enough to tell him what to do, unless they want to answer to his six-shooter. In postmodernism, the individual is often caught in a web of uncontrollable circumstances, making it impossible for them to find freedom. The cold, sterile world controls the individual. Maybe some of you have read George Orwell's "1984" (a postmodern book written in the modern era). In this story, no one can escape the all-seeing gaze of "Big Brother". Films like "The Hunger Games" explore similar themes of constraint. In "Hot Pursuit," circumstances In The Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is forced bring two women (Sofia to participate in a competition Vergara and Reese to the death - an example of Witherspoon) from different lost freedom in cultures together. postmodernism.
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