Since 1994 the television show Friends has been a favorite of many Americans, including myself. I am not generally a fan of television and am much more inclined to read a book than I am to turn on a TV. However, this was a show that immediately captured my attention and held it. I have watched the ten seasons all the way through at least five separate times and each time I have learned something new or caught on to something that I did not catch previously. I feel that this is due to aging and experience as well as simply being exposed to the material so many times. The first chapter of our reading does a fantastic job of bridging these two ideas together and helps describe the ways in which media such as that discussed above effects and influences our everyday lives as well as our belief patterns. Sellnow does an exquisite job of defining the terms that surround what popular culture means. Before reading this piece I was unsure what the true definition of popular culture actually was whereas now I feel as if I have a pretty decent grasp on its meaning and surrounding defining factors. With that said, according to Sellnow, “popular culture is comprised of the everyday objects, actions, and events that influence people to believe and behave in certain ways”.
Last semester I was enrolled in a gender and communication at HSU and I not only had a phenomenal professor but also truly enjoyed the material I was being taught. The collection of material from the class served to give me a new lens to view the world through and had a very large impact on my perception of what we are constantly being fed through media. For example, I had never realized how sexist a lot of the jokes and innuendos were that are portrayed in the television show Friends. The males in the show are portrayed to be more sexist than the females however, the females are not as progressive as one may think on first glance. This phenomenon being present has a lot to do with the time period that the show was created in as well as the projected audience and societal standards.
Within the documentary we were required to watch this week, one concept that really caught my attention (ironically enough) was the idea of an attention economy. The question presented was an age old chicken or the egg argument; which came first? Do we pay attention to media because we choose to due to what media has to offer us or is our attention essentially being controlled by media? These are questions that intrigue me but are impossible to universally answer for every individual and situation. However, personally I lean more toward believing that our attention is controlled and regulated by the media although we also do have some control over the media and what they choose to show us in some instances. I choose to watch show like Friends because I find it easy to watch and full of humor, however, due to my higher education I am much more aware of the norms that are presented and therefore more able to think for myself rather than being influenced solely on mediated popular culture. Sellnow depicts the importance of studying popular culture by understanding and describing the norms that are created and reinforced by popular culture. As Sellnow states, “popular culture persuades by empowering and disempowering certain people and groups by conveying messages about desirable and undesirable, appropriate and inappropriate, and normal and abnormal beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors.” This means that all of our mediated source and popular culture is exposing us to ideas and shaping our ideals. If society remains ignorant to these effects then people will grow to be weak-minded and gullible. That is why this subject is so crucially important to gain knowledge on, especially in todays’ day and age.
Because I am always the Monica of the group, I am extremely eager to learn more and I look forward to being educated about mass media and popular culture influences!