Effects of American Film and TV on Popular Culture
Popular culture is affected by American film and television show because it showcases an image of how Americans wants to perceives their own society’s values and dreams. It also reinforces stereotypes by only showing certain types of characters for their specific race, class, or gender. The effect it has includes how society views itself and what is acceptable whether the entertainment that is shown is positive and informative or crude and distasteful. Such behavior in the latter can be viewed through movies such as Jackass and The Hangover and reality television in general.
In modern culture, the trending television shows are usually the most controversial. For example, in 2009 Jersey Shore created a nationwide phenomenon by being one of the most watched reality television shows of the decade. Slang such as GTL, which stands for “gym, tan, and laundry”, started off as a localized term used only in South New Jersey and it became apart of the youth’s vernacular across the county. Jersey Shore gained popularity through controversy mainly by promoting guidos and guidettes as Italian stereotypes, negative images towards women, promiscuity, alcoholism, excessive partying, and violence to young America.
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The success of this show reveals the fantasy that young adults have of “living in glamorous circumstances and vicariously enjoy the experience becoming instant TV stars.” (Maasik, Solomon 281) With such fame, the cast of Jersey Shore has successfully sold different products such as diet pills, books, and merchandise. Even with the show’s end, their impact on popular culture cannot be unnoticed as the individual cast members still retain their celebrity status and influential roles towards young adults. However, this is not the only example of how American entertainment have affected popular culture by showing ordinary characters in ideally glamorous situations.
The iconic American Pie series renewed one of the more common themes that have been seen in American film recently is “bromantic comedy”, a play on the term romantic comedy. This theme showcases a group of friends, usually middle-class Caucasian males, who indulge in debauchery together. This movie over glorifies extreme partying and underemphasizing the consequences with it along with exploring adolescent sexual relationships. The series developed a cult following and throughout the series, the parties became larger and the storylines became more lewd, which reveals how society viewed its youth as promiscuous, rebellious partygoers. In 1999, it was reported that sexual activity amongst teenagers increased (“Teen Sexual Activity in the United States”) suggesting the direct effect the movie series had on influencing American youth. This movie series sparked the beginning of a new era with similar movies such as The Hangover, Superbad, and Pineapple Express. Such behaviors displayed in these movies are not only entertainment anymore as our society continues to witness this quite often not only in real life, but also through current reality television shows.
Not only did the American Pie series begin a new era for raunchy movies, but it also affected music in popular culture. Bands such Blink-182 and Sum41 also gained access to a larger fan base by featuring on the movie’s original soundtracks, which also made pop punk a trending music genre in the early 2000s. This increase in popularity also created an influx of pop punk artists including Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Avril Lavigne. The American Pie series is a prime example of how a cult following was successfully able to effect different aspects of popular culture through music, film, and television as we know it today.
While shows like Breaking Bad is no longer in production, they are still trending in today’s popular culture. The audience shows their support for anti-hero characters by making this type of show successful. Characters such as Walter White walk the fine line of good and bad by becoming a Southwestern drug kingpin with the good intention of engaging in illegal, immoral acts in order to provide a better life for their family materially. While the show has received criticism about normalizing crystal meth use, these shows “provide multiple moral perspectives on evil characters, and which offer room for moral reflection, might even be good for us, rather than evil.” (Harold 304) To reinforce this idea, “fictional TV… provides an important channel through which audiences relect on their life situations and enter public discourses about moral standards and political values.” (Wu 405) Specifically, Breaking Bad has affected popular culture by becoming one of the most talked about shows in the past five years. Breaking Bad’s season finale garnered a record-breaking 10.3 million viewers and was seemingly the topic of every social media outlet on the day of. With its recent
conclusion, fans are still left wanting more and are already abuzz with news of its upcoming spin-off show Better Call Saul. While the effects of American television and film on popular culture are similar, the main difference is the longevity of its effect depending on how successful the film or show was. Television shows allow audiences have a chance to grow with the show, thus building a relationship throughout its run in hopes that it does not become irrelevant to the viewers.. The more of a relationship the viewers have with the show, the longer potential the show has to remain relevant in popular culture. In contrast, film also has the ability to capture audience’s attention but it must be done in a span of hours. If done correctly, both film and television show have tend to have cult followings and can leave a lasting impression on popular culture by being quoted and referred to often and remaining trending among the masses.
In conclusion, American film and television affect popular culture by revealing a depiction of how our nation either sees itself or dreams to be. Both bring up issues to address such as drug use, sex, and moral dilemmas. While their effects on popular culture are mostly similar, they are different in amount of time that they stay significant. The relationship between American film and television with popular culture is clearly symbiotic and will continue to reap each other’s benefits of drawing attention and audiences.
“Breaking Bad Series Finale Delivers a Record 10.3 Million Viewers.” AMC Blogs IBreaking Badi Series Finale Delivers a Record 103 Million Viewers Comments. AMC, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. . Harold, James. “A Moral Never-Never Land: Identifying with Tony Soprano.” Signs of the Life in the USA: Reading on Popular Culture for Writers 7 (2012): 296-304. Print. Maasick, Sonia, and Jack Solomon, eds. Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2012. Print. “Teen Sexual Activity in the United States.” Www.nationalcampaign.org. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. . Wu, Jingsi Christina. “Cultural Citizenship At The Intersection Of Television And New Media.” Television &
New Media 14.5 (2013): 402-420. Print.