Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture

By Alex S. Edelstein | Go to book overview

PART IV
Socialprop ISSUES SEEKING ANSWERS

The swings between oldprop and newprop are marked and dramatic as they articulate social issues in the popular culture and efforts to resolve them.

Gayprop is expressive of the tensions created by the exclusion of a talented sector of the popular culture. As outsiders, members of the homosexual community respond to exclusionary oldprop with a raucously protesting oldprop; as insiders, they engage in a humanistic newprop.

Genderprop exhibits those same tendencies; professional women articulate their achieved status by use of the newprop of equal rights, but when they are constrained by gender-specific problems of sexual harassment and abortion-related issues, they respond to oldprop in like manner.

Race, abortion, and religion present contrasting styles. Race emulates both the oldprops and the newprops of sexuality and gender -- witness the studied response by the Black middle class to efforts to end affirmative action and their rejection of radicalness -- but abortion and religion, merged in their crusading zeal, sublimate professionalism and class to an unremitting oldprop of hegemony. Much of lobbyprop, illustrated by the National Rifle Association (NRA), follows this same oldprop pattern, but environmental issues range across oldprop and newprop as they respond to issue-specific problems (e.g., habitat, water, fish, minerals, timber, etc.).

If any one activity argues the most for the broadest redefinition of popular culture it is tradeprop. Such acronyms as NAFTA and GATT -- and such organizations as the European Common Market and the Global Council of Seven -- have become everyday referents and they are evocative of both the oldprop and the new. Referring to the vote on NAFTX, one columnist asked: "Do we really hafta?" And in an exuberant newprop of hope, President Bush pointed to free global trade as one of his thousand points of light.

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