“Decoding Popular Culture, As A Gateway To the Profound.”

“Decoding Popular Culture, As A Gateway To the Profound.”

Some thoughts on A2:

How to deal with the expectation for two cultural pieces/moments:

Throw two into the mix–whether complementary, contradictory, or sharing some other relationship–and the conversation magically becomes less narrow, more indicative of a national zeitgeist (rather than one content-creator’s ideology, or one random cultural blip), and more possessed of n + 1 potential.

If one piece seems to drive the discussion, that’s okay. You can situationally “dip” into other cultural sources.
i.e. if you discuss two things, their analyses don’t need to receive equal length and attention. Three things don’t need to be 33/33/33, et cetera. Evidence ratios shouldn’t structure a text—the exploration of ideas should. Deploy evidence/examples as necessary.

That being said, we don’t want to simply compare/contrast two pieces of culture. There is a third obligation here: everything that exists outside of those cultural pieces!
Put simply: Remember to situate the cultural moments in terms of a larger socio-political panorama.

For instance, if the violent nature of Django Unchained is under investigation, a rough thesis might be:  American firearm policy is driven by the culturally-enshrined notion that problems are solved through gun violence/men find salvation through violence/ the armed man is the only bulwark against evil.
(this is probably n+.65 right now. To get to n+1, I’d have to “push” the implications a bit).

But anyway, with this as a starting point, the ensuing exploration naturally might invoke:
Django, my lead cultural text, is a given
The history of the Western film (John Wayne, etc.), or action films (Die Hard)
First-person shooter video games
Batman (doesn’t carry a gun / use guns)
Inglorious Basterds
American Sniper/ gun control?
And a million others….

Larger American Panorama:
The actual history of the American West
Newtown, Aurora, and other mass shootings
The statistical decline in violent crime across America in the last 20 years (see New York, LA as examples…much lower homicide rates than 80s/90s)
NRA & the role of the second amendment
Failure of Congress to pass gun legislation in wake of Newtown
Open Carry and Stand Your Ground laws (maybe Trayvon Martin)
America’s national narrative as defender-of-weak, as the armed protector of human rights
(WW2, Somalia, Libya, but also Vietnam, Iraq, etc.)
And a million others…


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