The Real Face of Our Culture in the United States
Nowadays more and more people start to notice more on the situation of the societies in the United States, and most of them get the information by reading the researches or books written by some sociologists. From all the examples of social issues in our societies, people seem to care more about culture jamming. In his book, “Culture Jam” Kalle Lasn, a human rights activist, talks about how the media and technologies of our modern societies affect our behaviors and thoughts, and the messages given by the media and technologies have already influenced the development of the societies in the world. All these have lead to an issue named as “culture jamming.” Lasn attempts to define the problem and clarify options for living a more “authentic” life. He wants to stop the branding of the United States by changing the way information flows, and he wants to show how to organize resistance against the power trust that manages the brands by “uncooling” consumer items, by “demarketing” fashions and celebrities, and by breaking the “media trance” of our TV-addicted age. After reading Lasn’s book, I was very inspired. I was able to observe how culture in the United States undergoes changes, the power of Media, the structure and the influence of the advertisements, and how this culture affect our development of societies and people’s behaviors.
In his book, Lasn mainly discusses about what has happened in our societies nowadays because most of the people do not notice so much about the situation of American culture in our societies. Lasn concludes that, “American culture is no longer created by the people.” He also points out that “in the past the news or stories were passed from one generation to the next by parents, neighbors, and teachers. However, nowadays, news and stories are told by distant corporations, which may not actually give the true side of the news/stories. Moreover, brands, products, fashions, celebrities, and entertainments have become our culture now, and all we do is just to listen and watch, and then buy what we have heard and seen.” In my opinion, I would like to say that I totally agree with his statement because I also think that the power of media has already changed our ways in identifying the reality of this news. From my experience, my host mum always tells me about the situation of the society in the United States, and she always tells me that she does not know why teenagers nowadays can waste their money in the vain pursuit of jeans, handbags, and shoes, among other things. She is of the opinion that maybe the culture in the United States has totally changed and some peple have pointed out that our ideas have become very different by the surroundings with hylicism. From the above, we can find that the environment we live in has already controlled us.
In the “Autumn” section of “Culture Jam,” media has a great power of affecting our thoughts and inserting new concepts into our minds. Moreover, large corporations or companies in our societies control most of these media. The part, which impresses me the most in this section, is where Lasn states, “in today’s media environment, advertisers rule– the sponsor is the king.” I absolutely agree with him. Since we are just normal people, if we want to express our feelings about the social problems, which are caused by the government or large companies, we may use newspapers, radio, or even televisions as our media channels to express our opinions in order to let them listen to our advice. However, today, we may find that it is difficult to do because the sponsors or large companies are the kings of today’s media, and they have already controlled all the resources or information of the media so that other people may not able to know more about the problems, which are created by these large companies. Just like the example in “Culture Jam” which says that a reporter tries to report a company dumping heavy metals into streams for years, but then the publisher tells her to drop the story because the company hosts the annual barbecue that all advertisers attend!
This always happens not only in the United States but also in my home country China, where it has made the society to be full of dissatisfaction. Although China has already started to build as one of the powerful nations of the world, many social problems occur behind the good results of economic activities of the country. These include toxic milk, large amount of pollutants released from the factories, kidnapping and enslaving of children. However, most of them do not open to the public since the big companies and the governments spend a lot of money to avoid the spread of the news in order to protect the reputation of the companies. Therefore, only a few locals really know about these problems in their societies. All these imply that media can control our thinking and knowledge. In a modern society, big companies and governments should not be involved in controlling of media channels because it will just make social conflict become worse and worse in the future.
In the “Winter” section of “Culture Jam,” Lasn has pointed out that advertisements have already affected us so much in our thoughts and behaviors. Most of the companies spend millions of dollars when constructing advertisements in order to attract more people to buy the products advertised, by bombarding us with carefully crafted and expensive advertisements on the channels of media such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, benches, and even buses. From the section, the part, which gives me the deepest image, is the one that states, “We have been locked and loaded. On the go, trying to generate more income to buy more things and then, feeling dissatisfied but not quite sure why, setting our sights on even greater income and more acquisitions.” I definitely agree with this statement since the thoughts or the concepts of people in doing things are now mainly affected by the advertisements from the media channels.
A close review of more information about the relationship between advertisements and human beings indicates presence of great power and influence on the society. It seems that our thoughts have already been controlled by the messages given by the advertisements, so there are always situations whereby teenagers are buying huge amount of things in a blindly way. Moreover, many people especially teenagers start to buy well-known brand products under the power of the advertisements from the well-known brand companies. Sometimes chat with my friends in Hong Kong, and when I ask them if they want any souvenirs from the United States, they all answer me that they want products from well-known brand in the United States such as Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, and American Apparel because they think that it will look cool to wear these products outside. In order to avoid excess advertisements’ effect on our behaviors and thoughts, all we need to do is to know more about this relationship so that we will not fall into the their traps.
The cultures have been changed a lot during these years because of the large power of media and the great influence of advertisements. The advertisements of these well-known brand products have already shaped people’s thoughts and concepts in their living style of the societies. Moreover, the control of media channels by companies and governments also affects the reality of the information that we get from the environment we live in. As Lasn says “you may already be a culture jammer.” We can say that human beings have the abilities of changing the culture in the societies. It just depends on the skills of observing the structure of culture and intrepid minds in changing the structure of our societies, so I hope that more and more people can read “Culture Jam” so as to think more about the future of our life and our living environment.
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