Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture

By Alex S. Edelstein | Go to book overview

PART II
Entertainmentprop SURPRISINGLY NEWPROP

Because entertainmentprop often is at the margins of culture, there is a tendency on the part of politicians and social critics to condemn it. Yet it remains our greatest hope for newprop and the enhancement of the popular culture.

Filmprop, as one example, spoke in the early 1990s for the generations, but in the mid- 1990s, it absorbed itself with new techniques and fantasies, each a part of a passion for profits and creativity. In the early 1990s, filmprop was mostly newprop; in the mid- 1990s it became ambiguously oldprop.

Adprop has exploited the popular culture with an oldprop that is remorseless in its search for sales and profits, yet its creative energies have enhanced many desires for membership in the popular culture. The key concept is "cool," and that is newprop.

The sitcoms only flirt with reality, yet in humorous fashion they communicate the creative tensions that are experienced by younger generations. Sitcoms thus become sitlifes.

Humorprop itself has always been the opiate of the people; now its essential newprop is expressed ever more widely in television, magazines, books, theater, and in an infinite variety of literary forms -- irony, parody, wit, and exaggeration.

MTV prop has been inventively newprop in its outreach to the 20somethings and those who identify with them. Rockprop and rapprop have found their apotheosis of newprop in Unplugged and other programming. They have risen above their oldprop of violence and smut to become newprop voices of their generations.

By contrast, sportsprop has transformed itself into an extraordinary commercialism, often more businessballprop than a mecca for sports heroes. The 1996 Olympics created a young American heroine who was transcended by the frequency and intrusiveness of commercial messages. Dream Team III became known as "The Millionaires."

One must concede that in entertainmentprop, the newprop has far exceeded the old, but the distinctions have become blurred.

-61-

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