It has always been my firm believe that entertainment and advertising reflect culture, and are not the root of it. Causation is hard to prove, but the correlation between films and television shows and the eras in which they were/are produced is never a coincidence. The entity known as Hollywood has a long history of providing escapism during wartime, asking questions of society during periods of cultural shift, and providing a creative outlet for those on the margins of society.
Then there's advertising. Right now, smartphone advertisements seem to be the clearest indicator of what people associate with social power. This ad in particular makes my blood boil with annoyance:
What does this commercial say? How do the characters relate to each other?
- A hierarchy exists wherein the better individual is determined not by what they do for others, but by how fast their phones receive information.
- Notice also that fast access to information does not spur them on to do anything with the information except hold it over the heads of their neighbors.
- These individuals are recipients and consumers. They are not action-oriented people. Their usage of technology does not signify any real accomplishment on their part; they use the scientific advancements made and maintained by others as the basis for a misguided sense of superiority.
This is probably an unnecessarily reactionary response, but smartphone and wireless carrier advertisements seem to sum up where we have arrived as a culture. We do less, we move around less, we think less and read less. Our smart phones and back-in-a-flash data plans give us near-instant access to a literal world of information via the internet, but if pop culture is any indication, we use that access for little more than looking at kittens on youtube. Like the man and woman in the commercial above: we stay in one place, we receive and we consume.
We have lost touch with what it is to accomplish things that are meaningful and real. We don't produce. We don't wield as much interpersonal influence as we should.
Technology and mass communications are supposed to be tools for culture, but they have themselves become culture.
“We need to know who we are and if we have what it takes. What do we do now with the ultimate question? Where do we go to find an answer? In order to help you find the answer to The Question, let me as you another: What have you done with your question? Where have you taken in? You see. a man’s core question does not go away.”
- John Eldredge, Wild at Heart