The death of mass culture… so what?

There’s an article in the Ottawa Citizen today about the death of mass culture. I beg to differ on Mr. Denley’s viewpoint.

What happened to mass culture? It seems to have died without anyone even noticing. You will no doubt remember when there were songs, television shows, movies and books that most everyone had heard of. These shared cultural reference points helped us communicate by doing things like citing an incident from Seinfeld to illustrate a point. Or Shakespeare, if you are more cultured.

Well, that’s disappearing fast and we’re all the poorer for it. I blame changes in technology, the stunning lack of talent of so many of today’s “artists” and cultural industries that have forgotten how to connect with customers.

So, we’re becoming more individualistic.  Why are we ‘poorer’ for it?

And while he blames technology for it, I praise technology for allowing me to express my opinions, read more than the daily (edited) news sources and connect with people.  It’s not necessarily a good thing thing to have everyone watch/read/do the same things – that’s called being sheep. Our society is not going to fall apart because we can’t sit down and re-hash our favourite movie together?  We end up bringing new things to the table with different viewpoints. Believe it or not, we can connect and communicate in other ways. And even if it’s a smaller crowd, technology is allowing us to reach over borders to connect with like-minded people, forming many ‘micro’ cultures.

But I do agree on some points… there is a lack of ‘good TV’ out there. I’ll post another one soon about my disgust with the ‘reality’ phenomenon – which to me, has formed quite the mass culture;)
Enjoy your Sunday:)


3 thoughts on “The death of mass culture… so what?

  1. Avery Henderson says:

    That’s a bizarre one. Culture’s just shifting, and you have to be on top of it. The topic of what people talk about these days is actually something that a lot of people talk about… if you follow me.

  2. Jay Godse says:

    This guy obviously doesn’t watch Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada, Family Guy, or Simpsons. He also obviously has nothing to do with Pokemon, World of Warcraft, or the Nintendo Wii. These three shows and three video games are widely viewed and I am regularly able to quote the shows to illustrate points. (I also use Seinfeld). We still have plenty of mass culture, but not on his terms.

    Technology enabled the cheap creation of content, so the average quality of content will go down, (partly thanks to my response to your posting), as per the central limit theorem. The internet enabled the cheap distribution of content, which then allows the cheap content to be distributed to the one in a million that is interested in that stuff.

    As Seth Godin pointed out (I can’t find the quote), a musician only needs 10000 fans to download about $10 worth of music every year from your site every year to make running that site and being a musician worthwhile. In the past, because of the high cost of production and distribution, you couldn’t make a living as a musician until you hit 100000 copies. The interesting thing here is that 10000 is not mass culture, but it enables 10 times as many musicians to make a living through their music. That, in turn, provides a sustainable talent pool from which to build awesome musicians.

    I’m with you on this one. We’re richer for the fragmenting of the “culture” market because we all get to contribute. Although the absolute average quality goes down, this is mitigated by the fact that consumers of the culture only pick and choose what is appropriate for them, and more choice means that the average quality of what I can pick for my needs & wants goes up.

  3. Adrian says:

    Technology changed our way of living, I would say that for worse in many cases.. Count number of hours daily spend in front of any screen, usually reading/watching some partially true news or whatever..
    Computer addicts, coach potatoes?

    Sometimes (or maybe quite often?) I experience feeling that there is many better ways people can spend time then just sitting in front of blue screen and that while my parents were born their life were much more interesting because of having to deal with things without this thing called computer.. right or not, anyway have a good day..

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