Since long before there was United States of America, adults have worried about the state of society and the effect of the current “pop culture” on young people and society. My grandparents and great aunts and uncles expressed similar concerns about the pop culture of the late 1960’s and 70’s when I was growing up. They did not understand what we kids liked about the often dissonant Rock ‘n Roll we were constantly listening to on our battery powered transistor radios (which were small enough for us to carry everywhere) and they worried about the hours we wasted watching TV.
These are the same family members who played jazz and swing themselves in their own bands and who danced the night away in dance halls that popped up all over the country to host local bands as well as the famous big bands and orchestras of the 30’s and 40’s. According to what I remember of their stories, the “homogenizing” influence of radio and movies at that time, which spread a particular pop culture throughout the states and eventually around the world during the war years, seem to have had a similar “revolutionizing” effect on their generation to what the personal computer and internet have had on my generation and to what the cell phone and constant personal radio communication are having on the current generation.
Now that we can access a larger volume of media there is a corresponding increase in material that is not enlightening, uplifting or instructional about the human condition. However, there is also a corresponding increase in the capability to access those pearls of culture from this country and around the world that truly entertain, enlighten and enliven us. It is also easier for artists ignored by the current entertainment “business” to distribute media to a huge audience without relying on agents or recognition from commercial promoters. I think there is hope that as long as most parents, extended families, friends, and educators do what they have always done, which is teach our youth the joy of sharing a great performance no matter what the medium, they will develop their own ability to create, discover and recognize the pearls of life, even if they are not the same pieces that we would chose for ourselves.
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