Popular Culture=Mass Culture

Posted by: | March 19, 2009 | Comments Off on Popular Culture=Mass Culture

So we’ve finally reached that point in the semester when we are given concrete examples of this elusive popular culture that we’ve all been searching for.  Futebol and telenovelas are certainly (in my humble opinion) excellent examples of contemporary popular culture in Latin America, and I feel that these two articles do an excellent job of defining the aspects of these pasttimes which make them so accessible and important to the general public.  National identity and national unity seem to be the common themes expressed in both articles.  Futebol and telenovelas serve the purpose of unifying a nation’s people under a common identity (in the case of futebol) and in common experiences and moral values (telenovelas) such that  both give a public form to conceptions of what it means to be Brazilian or Venezuelan.  In the case of both activities, the common citizen is merely a spectator to the action, yet they feel as though they are a part of a larger whole which is represented in the drama played out–within the telenovela or on the futebol field.
While initially Brazilians’ obsession with their 1950 World Cup defeat baffled my sport-resistant sensibilities, as I read further, I began to understand the role that futebol plays in the lives of many and the stakes each individual has in the national game.  The game and its players represent much more than a simple game, but rather the opportunity to create and maintain an international image of prestige and power; something which is often achieved only in such practical interactions such as as international warfare or economic trade.
Telenovelas too, have the ability to define and create national identity and unity in their portrayal of a ‘heightened reality” of the average citizen’s everyday reality.  As Venezuela’s example demonstrates, a forum such as the telenovela provides the opportunity for group unity in suffering and strife–in this case exemplified by economic and political turmoil–and for the experience of catharsis in being able to identify with so many others in a communal struggle.
Ultimately this week’s readings led me to ask myself what aspects of American popular culture have led me to feel a part of a unified national group; a question I could not honestly answer.  The telenovela has no true equivalent in (for me) in American culture, while my absolute aversion to sport isolates me from the feeling of group unity found in cheering for a sports team.  Both futebol and telenovelas, while seemingly simple examples of popular pasttimes in Latin America, provide us with examples of the exceptionally important role popular culture plays in forming our everyday realities and group identities.


Comments are closed.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet