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postmodernist analysis of contemporary popular culture

presentation for CMNS221

Vanessa Zhen

on 31 October 2012

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Transcript of postmodernist analysis of contemporary popular culture

Postmodernist analysis of contemporary popular culture What is Postmodernism? Contemporary popular culture and postmodernism the emergence of postmodernism Discussion Questions The breakdown of the distinction between culture and society Jameson (1984) speaks postmodern is a ‘depthless culture’ because it is the culture of the consumer society. Do you agree with his opinion?

Do you think postmodern culture will occupy modern culture? The breakdown of the distinction between art and popular culture Confusion of time and space The decline of metanarratives Postmodernism is said to describe the emergence of a social order in which the importance and power of the mass media and popular culture means that they govern and shape all other forms of social relationships. The idea is that popular cultural signs and media images increasingly dominate our sense of reality, and the way we define ourselves and the world around us. It tries to come to terms with, and understand, a media-saturated society. The liberal view argued that the media held up a mirror to, and thereby reflected in a fairly accurate manner, a wider social reality. This mirror distorted rather than reflected reality. Media played some part in constructing our sense of social reality, and our sense of being a part of this reality. In the postmodern condition, it becomes more difficult to distinguish the economy from popular culture. The realm of consumption-what we buy and what determines what we buy-is increasingly influenced by popular culture. Consumption is increasingly bound up with popular culture because popular culture increasingly determines consumption. In a postmodern world, surfaces and style become more important, and evoke in their turn a kind of ‘designer ideology’. We increasingly consume images and signs for their own sake rather than for their ‘usefulness’ or for the deeper values they may symbolize For postmodern culture anything can be turned into a joke, reference or quotation in its eclectic play of styles, simulations and surfaces. Art becomes increasingly integrated into the economy both because it is used to encourage people to consume through the expanded role it plays in advertising, and because it becomes a commercial good in its own right. Warhol Rapid international flows of capital, money, information and culture disrupt the linear unities of time, and the established distances of geographical space. Because of the speed and scope of modern mass communications, and the relative ease and rapidity with which people and information can travel, time and space between less stable and comprehensible, and more confused and incoherent. Postmodern popular culture is seen to express these confusion and distortions. Postmodern popular culture is a culture outside history. Metanarratives, examples of which include religion, science, art, modernism and Marxiam, make absolute, universal and all-embracing claims to knowledge and truth. In the postmodern world, they are disintegrating and their validity and legitimacy are decline. Postmodern rejects the claims of any theory to absolute knowledge, or of any social practice to universal validity. The diverse, iconoclastic, referential and collage-like character of postmodern popular culture clearly draws inspiration from the decline of metanarratives. Architecture Modernism: a radical rejection of all previous forms of architecture; insisted that buildings and architecture have to be created anew according to rational and scientific principles. It has sought to reflect, celebrate and entrench the dynamism of industrial modernity through the rational scientific and technical construction of built space. Functionality; efficiency; high rise; streamlined; glass and concrete structures, etc. Postmodernism in architecture, its hallmarks are highly ornate, elaborately designed, contextualized and brightly colored buildings, a stress on fictionality and playful in almost random and eclectic fashion. Postmodernism turns buildings into celebrations of style and surface, using architecture to make jokes about built space. Cinema The narrative demands of classical realism are being increasingly ignored by postmodern cinema, which are based on confusions over time and space. Dick Tracey Nine and a Half Weeks Advertising Advertisements say less about the product directly, and are more concerned with sending up or parodying advertising itself by citing other adverts, by using references drawn from popular culture and by self-consciously making clear their status as advertisements. The point at issue is the changing content and tone of advertising, the move away from the simple and direct selling of a visual style and trick effects used. Postmodern adverts are more concerned with the cultural representations of the advert than any qualities the product advertised may have in the outside world, a trend in keeping with the supposed collapse of ‘reality’ into popular culture. Pop music From the point of view of postmodern theory, the recent history of popular music can be seen to be marked by a trend towards the overt and explicit mixing of styles and genres of music in very direct and self-conscious way. By contrast, modernist popular music can be understood as an attempt to fashion new and distinct forms out of previous style. Television The Truman Show Consumerism and media-saturation In the twentieth century, the economic needs of capitalism have shifted from production to consumption. Hence, the growth of consumer credit, the expansion of agencies like advertising, marketing, design and public relations, encouraging people to consume, and the emergence of a postmodern popular culture which celebrates consumerism, hedonism and style. The rise of modern forms of mass communications, and the associated proliferation of popular media culture, therefore become central to the explanatory framework of postmodern theory. New middle-class occupations and consumer markets The increasing importance of consumption and the media in modern societies has given rise to new occupations involved greater number and variety of commodities. These occupations are claimed to be both creating and manipulating or playing with cultural symbols and media images so as to encourage and extend consumerism. The erosion of collective and personal identities These traditional sources of identity – social class, the extended nuclear family, local communities, the neighborhood, religion, trade unions, the nation state – are said to be in decline as a result of tendencies in modern capitalism like increasingly rapid example, the tendency for investment. Transnational economic processes erode the significance of local and national industries and, thereby, the occupational, communal and familial identities they could once sustain. Consumerism by its very nature is seen to foster a self-centred individualism which disrupts the possibilities for solid and stable identities. Since there are no dependable alternatives, popular culture and the mass media come to serve as the only frames of reference available for the construction of collective and personal identities. Critique
Postmodern culture breaks the distinction between culture and society, which is given a new significance through the saturation of signs and messages to the extent that ‘everything in social life can be said to have become cultural’ (Jameson,1984). In terms of the definitions of postmodernism we find an emphasis upon the effacement of the boundary between art and everyday life, the collapse of the distinction between high art and popular culture, the collapse of the distinction between art and everyday life, we can rethink the aesthetic aspect of everyday life.

To speak of postmodernity is to suggest an epochal shift or break from modernity involving the emergence of a new social totality with its own distinct organizing principles. From modernity to postmodernity, I think the author should mention that it is also a movement towards a post-industrial age. The effects of the ‘computerization of society’ is another dimension of postmodern society. New middle-class occupation and consumer markets argue that the vision of abundance has been central to consumer culture. However, the consumer society has limits: it is also a risk society, not only accumulating new goods, but also new ‘bads’. Not only global warming, but also modified food, new viruses and superbugs. Back to Future O Superman - Laurie Anderson
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