Schmitz, Andy. Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction into Mass Communication. Washington, D.C: Saylor Academy, 2012.
One of this week’s readings was by Andy Schmitz titled Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction into Mass Communication. This reading was very interesting in that it emphasized the connection between popular culture and mass media. Schmitz argues that mass media modes influence our pop culture by encouraging or discouraging artists, musicians, restaurants and other products.
I’ve always understood the connection between mass media today and pop culture. The digital age media is consumed by marketing. Influencers go by the name “Instagram models”. Our websites are crowded with cookie ads. Our biggest celebrities such as the Kardashians built an empire on the use of media. Kylie Jenner has been proclaimed a “self-made billionaire” because of her use of advertising on her personal social media. What I did not realize was the extend that mass media had on pop culture prior to the digital age.
Schmitz describes how the Ed Sullivan show was a massive influencer. He claims it was earlier to market towards broad audiences because of the limited modes of media available to the public. There were main city newspapers, a few radio stations, and two to three television channels. This made it quite easy for marketing to hit a target audience. In modern society there are thousands of news blogs, hundreds of TV channels, and unlimited amounts of mass media outlets. It has taken the professionalism out of pop culture.
Influencers have more direct contact to the public. Platforms such as Soundcloud do not limit the artists and is open to all. No longer do musicians need a professional record label just to put their music out online. Any kid with a phone can download a home video to YouTube. While the digital age has made it easier for society to contribute to pop culture, it has made it harder to become famous. “Traditional mass media” is still prevalent and still the most influencing, yet it is having a harder time competing with the amount of information online. Our pop culture is changing in response. Going “viral” is equivalent to being on the Ed Sullivan show in some respect.