By Zara Moh’d Kareto
Popular culture to us is almost entirely manifestation of western popular culture. It is generally accepted to be one thing and one thing only; harmful distraction and most examples of popular culture and heavily drawn from the mass media.
Popular culture is the arts, artifacts, entertainment, fads, beliefs and values that are shared by large segments of a society usually influenced by the media through the package of programmes they air and write on.
The group of people most affected by popular culture is teenagers through music, celebrities, fashion and other programmes delivered by the media because these kind of things have become top priority for teenagers of today’s world. And they have surrounded themselves with it and have grown to love and even worship popular culture.
In our society today, the media bombards teenagers with images and trends. The media defines what people should be wearing, what they should be listening to, how they should act and what they should look like through movies, televisions, magazines, newspapers, billboards, fashion music etc.
So many of our kids today wear Cinderella dress, Spiderman dress and so many outfits that have been worn in cartoons and comics.
Most examples of evils of popular culture are drawn from the world of students especially from our institutions of higher learning. It is clear in how after students life we tend to behave more responsible, mellowed by conventional expectations of adult conduct.
It is the youth that adopts skewed and deviant dress modes like sagging (ass down) and miniskirts or the skin tight leggings or dons highly irregular haircuts and engages in outlandish communication methods and gestures.
The popular culture reflects women as sex objects, to be skinny and sexy and the images place tremendous amount of pressure to live up to the above mentioned standard that is difficult or even some times impossible to meet. Women go on diets; some even become bulimic or anorexic trying to meet the cultural standard. And women who cannot meet this standard loose self esteem and confidence in themselves which impairs their ability to function at their best ability.
While an onward expression of disapproval is common, we sometimes tacitly encourage the state of things by ruefully recalling “I used to be like that when I was young” or absently remark” it is their time, it will pass”.
Still our traditional aggressive methods of chastisement are proving to be ineffective. They seem to further alienate our young men and women or confuse them more.
Most of them don’t even know the nature of their improper practices, origin or purpose. So, the best way to rid ourselves of undesirable and foreign modes of conduct is education. Let our young people know and I trust they will make the right decisions by themselves. Teach them the beauty of their abundant traditions, the pride and satisfaction they would derive by holding onto them.
Meanwhile, let’s not confuse westernization (educational, economic and administrative practices) and the invidious western popular culture. People tend to associate the two and it is the role of our educational policy makers to make clear distinctions because it could lead to serious misconceptions.
Even popular culture could be utilized for our own benefit. The ubiquity of pop music and art could be utilized to convey educational messages. And if researchers in our higher institutions could explore these areas (popular culture and westernization), it will be of great advantage to our society.
Kareto is a 300 Level undergraduate of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri
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