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The Newest Member of Pop Culture

28 Apr

If The Hunger Games is not classified as a part of the pop culture movement then I do not know what is. My personal opinion of something to be able to have the label as “pop culture” is simply a piece of work that is attractive to the modern culture that might not be as attractive to the high culture era. In addition, I also believe that popularity and number of views has a lot to do with the classifying something as pop culture.

 The Hunger Games is predominantly aimed towards the young adult population and they do a fantastic job of doing so if I do say so myself. They include a disturbing but intriguing plot based on kids killing other kids if they wish to survive. I believe this type of plot line is what interests all of the young adults in today’s society because it allows them to use their imagination by thinking, “Wow. What if I lived in a world like that?” Or maybe they might think, “Wow. What would I do if I had to kill someone I knew just to survive?” This book’s plotline would most definitely not be accepted in a high culture type atmosphere due to the whole ‘kids killing kids’ concept.

Another reason as to why this book is attractive to today’s modern culture is because of its relevance to some of the struggles we face today. Oftentimes today, especially with the 2012 Presidential election approaching, we see the dramatic tension and interaction between the rich and the poor. In the book, it portrays that people without money have an incredible disadvantage in life, yet those who are wealthy are generally bystanders and don’t give a crap about the poor’s struggles or survival.

On a different note, I would also label this book as far on the pop culture spectrum as possible because of its popularity in general. I have never seen so much hype about a book/movie. It seemed more popular than Twilight because both guys and girls went and saw it, while Twilight generally seemed to be seen by mostly girls. It lead the box office for a substantial amount of time to show the number of views just kept increasing and increasing. The popularity and incredible amount of buzz the book and movie produced has a lot to do with its classification as a pop culture piece of work.

When it comes to classifying The Hunger Games as either high culture or pop culture, it is without a doubt a member of pop culture. The way it attracts itself to today’s modern society can easily back that statement up. It allows viewers to imagine themselves in a fictional world yet conveying certain themes that are present in today’s world.

Changes in my Perception of Pop Culture through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

28 Apr

I have learned a lot about pop culture after taking Engl 1102 class this semester. As a result of taking this class, many of my perceptions of pop culture have changed. When I first entered the class, I only considered shows such as The Jersey Shore as pop culture. However, during the semester I have learned that any form of media can be considered pop culture as long as it makes a  impact on our society so I include the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke as pop culture as well. Some changes in my perception of pop culture can be shown in the genre, characters, and analytical value of the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

From the beginning of the semester to now, one of my conceptions that has changed is the genre of pop culture. In the beginning of the semester, I thought that pop culture mostly consisted in the forms of TV shows such as the Jersey Shore because it was easy to gain mass popularity. I classify Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as pop culture now as it has been on the New York Time’s best seller list and won several awards. It has sold over 250,000 copies. It is clear that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has a very large following, and deserves to be classified as pop culture, even as a book. My view of the genre of pop culture has expanded from being just reality tv shows to books.

Another characteristic of what I consider to be pop culture is the quality of the characters. As I mentioned before, at the beginning of the semester I mostly considered reality tv shows such as Jersey Shore to be pop culture. I thought that pop culture consisted mostly of vapid personas. However, now that I understand Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell can be considered pop culture, my view of the characters in pop culture has changed as well. In the novel, Susanna Clarke provides an extreme amount of details for even minor charactors. For example, she spends several pages describing how servants of a minor character are experiencing change as they have moved from living and serving in the countryside to the city. She describes how the city servants make fun of the new country servants and their strange country mannerisms. This examples serves to illustrate that Clarke creates an insane amount of detail about her characters. Clarke provides even more detail about the main characters. My view of characters in pop culture has changed from vapid celebrity personalities to personalities that can be rich in detail and depth.

Finally, one of the major facets of pop culture that has changed for me is its value outside of entertainment. My example before of Jersey Shore remains a star example of my early conception of pop culture. Many friends I know watch the show just because they like to laugh at the stupid things each character is doing and the riduclous conflicts between the actors on Jersey Shore. People will just watch the Jersey Shore for mindless entertainment. This is another aspect of pop culture that I understand differently now that can be reflected in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The novel is rich in symbolism and allows for a lot of analysis. For example, the society of magicians in the beginning of the book can provide for a lot of analysis. The magicians only study magic, however no one performs it. Performing it is for street musicians, which are not gentlemen of the society of magic. This can be analysed as a stab at academia – people who only write theories about things but they never go out and try them themselves. This is only one of many subjects for analysis in the novel. My understanding of what the value of pop culture is outside entertainment has changed from mindless entertainment to entertainment with a lot of room for analysis.

My perceptions of pop culture are almost completely different as a result of taking this class. Coming into the class, I expected pop culture to be shows such as Jersey Shore. However, three examples of how my perception of pop culture has changed can be shown in the genre, the characterization, and the value of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My expectations have changed from pop culture being tv shows and movies to books. Another change is from childish celebrity personalities to complex characters in Jonathan Strange. Finally, the most important change is the ability to obtain value other than mindless entertainment in Jersey Shore to having the option of analysing many different groups in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. My views of pop culture have changed after taking Engl 1102 this semester.

Hunger Games Mark on Pop Culture Through Archery

28 Apr

One role of The Hunger Games in popular culture is the effect that it has on the interest of fans. Since the series has been adapted into a movie, it has influenced many people to want to become more like characters in the book. One character that fans are influenced by is the female archer heroine, Katniss. There has been an increase in the interest of archery since The Hunger Games movie has premiered. The Hunger Games has affected popular culture by increasing interest in archery.

One way The Hunger Games has increased interest in archery is by increasing sales in archery equipment. After seeing the movie, many fans have gone and purchased bows and arrows. One salesman for an outdoors shop has remarked that sales for bows and arrows have tripled. Many children are definitely influenced by Katniss in the film because the role of archery in The Hunger Games has made archery a ‘cool’ sport. To satisfy their children, many parents are buying their children bows so that they can start learning how to become archers. The Hunger Games is changing pop culture by increasing interest in archery equipment.

Another way The Hunger Games has affected interest in archery is that interest in archery classes has suddenly increased. Some kids will go out after watching the movie and sign up for classes in archery in the same day. In addition, the fans that have went and bought archery equipment will sign up to classes to learn how to become better archers. The Hunger Games affecting our culture by directly increasing interest in archery classes.

Even people who are not fans of the series are affected by The Hunger Games fans’ interest in archery. In the fans’ rush to start trying out archery, archery ranges and youth clubs are starting to add classes for younger kids. Sales of archery equipment are going up and participation in archery classes are going up, so business owners see that there is an opportunity to profit in this growing market. Even though the businesses have not been directly affected by the hunger games, the series’ affect on fans is indirectly encouraging businessmen to appeal to this new interest in archery. The Hunger Games has even affected society by affecting businesses that are not fans of the series to become interested in archery.

Most new big movies or series have very visible effects on fans. Right after watching or reading The Hunger Games, many fans get The Hunger Games ‘fever’. One way that this ‘fever’ is showing is in fans’ efforts to emulate Katniss from the books, they are picking up an interest in archery. The interest of fans in archery shows through the increased sales of archery equipment, increased interest in archery classes at youth clubs, and the youth clubs response by creating more archery classes. The Hunger Games is making its mark on our culture by increasing interest among its many fans.

My Journey Through Pop Culture

28 Apr

With the topic of this English class being about perception of popular culture, I must say that from beginning to end my entire view has changed a little bit on pop culture. Through readings from Quicksilver, Hunger Games, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and The Sandman or from playing a video game like Assassin’s Creed 2, or from watching music videos, all of these have two things that jumps out to me: creativity and variability. If I have learned one thing about popular culture this semester, it is that works can be adapted into many different mediums for many different purposes.

A book that jumps to mind that is a very creative representation of pop culture is Quicksilver. Neal Stephenson uses his creativity to kind of bring back the scientific and mathematical discovery era in a fictional fashion. The book has a great deal to do with the discovery of Calculus, particularly included the controversy over who actually invented it. Stephenson accurately displayed certain concepts but included minor fictional tweaks. Most notably was the made-up school called “Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technological Arts”.

Another book that enhanced my view about pop culture is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This book had a lot to do with the present’s relationship to the past. By conveying this, Clarke used the past English culture and inserted the idea of magic actually working back then. In addition, this book also proved to me that pop culture pieces of work don’t have to be short in length by any means. Both this book and Quicksilver are amongst the longest books I have read in a while, since the last Harry Potter book was released to be exact. I will no longer associate long works with just high culture, I can guarantee that.

The piece of work that really proved something to me though was the video game Assassin’s Creed 2. This was the perfect example of a pop culture adaptation. The game took aspects of Italian history and produced an educating and riveting video game simultaneously. I must admit that while playing this game for the time I was not only entertained by the non-stop violence and action, but I did learn a lot about certain things about Italian culture that I never learned in past history classes. Moreover, I honestly can’t remember the last video game I enjoyed playing but also learning something valuable at the same time. I think these game producers are really evolving the purpose of video games and proving the whole “video games are solely for entertainment” stereotype wrong.

Before coming into the class and studying any pieces of work, my understanding of pop culture was simply just making material more modernized so that the work would be accepted in the modern day culture. While that understanding still remains true, I have gained a much further understanding on top of that. I did this by looking much deeper into the works and grasping the concepts that are there and comparing them to the previous work or material that it derived from.

Giving Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell a Place to Call Home

28 Apr

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is an interesting conglomeration by Susanne Clarke. Containing many elements of magic, it is often referred to as an adaptation of the pop culture phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series, except catering more to the adult age demographic. More interesting is while maintaining such characteristics of fantasy, the novel also rather historic with a setting of early 19th century England, Wellington.  This collision of both fantasy and history bring about an interesting question. Where in our culture do novels like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell belong? Is it in popular culture, along with Harry potter? Or is it perhaps in high culture, along with a textbook of English history?

Though not so much in its beginning pages, the novel is riddled with magic, lending itself to quite a fantastical taste.  The magic is an exciting blend of human and faerie with such a complex and realistic taste to it, such that it almost maintains a level of academia about itself. Having a defining characteristic as such, on might want to place Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on the same end of the cultural spectrum of works such as Avatar: The Last Airbender and the previously mentioned Harry Potter series. I would like to maintain, however; that while it maintains its aspects of fantasy and fiction, the book also has its fair share of high culture elements to consider.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is also referred to by many as a historical novel. It is blatantly apparent from the incredibly believable setting that Clarke spent much time meticulously researching early 19th century England to develop such a detailed and accurate setting. Featuring among many things historical figures and carriages, the novel provides readers with a very much Victorian Era feel. In addition, the novel itself is over one thousand pages long—and discursive, too; both of which reflect how many writings of its ‘time’ were produced. It reminds me of works of Mark Twain, intentionally drawn out as he and other writers of his time were paid by the word.

The tone of the characters and the novel as a whole was also developed in such a way to provide them all with some outstanding sense of ego. It is as though everyone throughout the novel caries with them a form of elitism you would expect from English royalty of the time; supporting the aforementioned Victorian taste. These historical characteristics do their share to push the novel towards the more high culture end of our previously referenced cultural spectrum. So where does it lie?

Somewhere in between, that’s where. Clarke does a splendid job in presenting a conflicting magical yet historical England. She has effectively created a bridge between popular (also referred to as low) and high culture. The more magical and fantastical elements of the novel lend itself to popular culture, while the historical context and accuracy qualify it as an artifact of high culture. The result is not black and white, but instead a nice shade of gray lying somewhere in between.

Hunger Games and Popular Culture

28 Apr

The Hunger Games by Susan Collins is part of a three part series and has already claimed its place on the New York Times list of best selling novels. Some say the Hunger Games phenomenon is sure to find itself setting sales records above even the Harry Potter series. Quickly finding itself a part of popular culture, a more in depth analysis of the novel reveals that it has more to offer than one might originally suspect. The dystopian nature of the fictional Panem and how familiar it is to the real world is all too chilling. It is this predicative characteristic of the novel that has forever altered the way I view artifacts of popular culture.

Popular culture carries with it a broad spectrum of elements. For a work to be considered a part of popular culture, a wide audience must first appreciate it. That is to effectively say that, in its most simple definition, popular culture is the culture of the masses, including popular music, television shows, commercials, brand names, advertisements, sports, the Internet, movies, fashion, etc. This is opposed to high culture, which is considered to be the culture of the more elitist and educated members of a given society. With popular culture clearly defined, it can easily be declared a home for The Hunger Games.

The novel has something for everyone. Rue and her struggles appeal to the younger populous, while Katniss and her more romantic hardships cater to young adults struggling to discover themselves and love, and finally the more political nature and adult elements can be appreciated by the more adult audience. These elements are what allow for all members of society to find some form of appreciation and appeal within the text. Effectively, the novel can claim to be a part of the culture belonging to the masses, which happily meets our definition of popular culture. This is further reflected by the latest numbers claiming there are thirty-six and a half million scheduled to print in the United States alone.

Containing other artifacts such as “The Jersey Shore”, popular culture is quick to be disregarded by societies more elite members. However, the novel contains fundamental elements of literary classics. For example, 1984 (belonging to high culture, mind you) by Georgia Orwell also features a dystopian society. Also carrying this predicative element, popular culture gains weight. Panem and the districts have much to say about some of societies most sensitive topics: racism, religion, and an overpowering government to name a few.

Overall, it can be said that The Hunger Games has forever altered my perception of popular culture. The novel’s ability to challenge societies toughest issues and predict where we are headed as a nation gives it a weight I never would have considered before. Analogous to even elements of high culture, the novel has much to say and deserves a more serious and in depth analysis before being brought down to other artifacts in the neighborhood of popular culture.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Pop Culture

25 Apr

 

One of the final novels we read this semester was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The novel revolves around the fact that magic was brought back to England by two men, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This is a major tribulation in English society during this time period since magic was related to dark forces and such. Since this was such a problem the novel also focuses on the differences between reason and unreason. This novel, like many others, can be depicted to be a fantasy novel since it deals with magic, fairies, and other imaginary worlds. Because the novel falls in the same genre as many other novels it can be associated with works of the same fantastical material such as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. This places the novel on the end of the pop culture spectrum where the rest of the fantasy novels lie. It is hard to decide whether the novel is depicted as either high culture or pop culture because the novel is fairly new so there is no telling how long its popularity will last in our culture.

As I was reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell it was difficult for me to decide its spot on the pop culture spectrum. I had never heard about this novel before it was assigned in this class so I was not even sure how this novel related to popular culture. But as I began researching the novel’s backstory and all the acclaim it has received I learned that the novel really has made an impact in pop culture. The novel has many fans and readers who appreciate the book. I think the main reason I was not exposed to this book is because it was not publically advertised through mainstream media sources. Unlike most pop culture crazes this novel did not get as much praise as it deserved. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell deserves a lot more acclaim than t has received because it can appeal to a wide range of an audience. The novel has many features that can be greatly appreciated in pop culture if only there was a larger fan base that exposed the novel to the rest of our society.

It was nice to finally read a well-written fantasy novel. After Harry Potter many fantasy novels do not come up to par because the plot has no storyline or the author tries to include every single aspect a fantasy novel could ever include into one story. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was such a well-written novel because the story flowed very well and there were not many fantasy elements. The novel was kept pretty simple by mainly revolving around magic and fairies. It was also very appealing because the novel presented moral dilemmas such as resurrection war. Another aspect, which may have pulled many readers, is the fact that the novel approaches the topic of power and fame. This is another reason why the novel should be more popular than its current stand.

Although the novel is currently not very well known there was a point in time where filmmakers were planning on creating a motion picture based on the novel, but plans fell through for various reasons. This shows that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has the potential to become a popular culture phenomenon; it’s just a matter of time for the hype about the book to rise again. With a little help from social media networks and the power of a spoken word the world of pop culture will be brewing with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

In conclusion, the novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, is a very riveting novel that should have a higher place with more praise in the pop culture world. The novel deserves this because it has a lot of elements that are shared with other pop culture rages. All the novel needs is another chance and a fan base, and voila the novel can be the next big thing in pop culture!

 

Samiyah Malik