What's Wrong With Christian Pop Culture (Part Eight)
Very real issues that should be addressed are not addressed in a manner that can be helpful and useful to individuals or society as a whole.
We see a bunch of vague and unsourced stats thrown together as if this is some brand new, immediate crisis that demands action this very instant.
”So what will happen when a generation of young men who have grown up with this pornography start dating? What happens when they assume that the violent sex they’ve been watching online for years is what women actually want? [original post]
This is a question that we should have asked at the dawn of the consumer age (actually, some people did).
I’m a student of pop culture, not just the overt examples such as publications and music and shows, but of the background noise to our civilization.
Prior to the 1920s, sex was not ubiquitous when it came to selling crap -- er, products.
Oh, it existed, there were certainly ads extolling products that made one appear more viral, more feminine (or even both) but by and large ads for the product were about what the product actually did.
Thus when sex was invoked, such as certain patent medicines, it was in the context of the medicine improving one’s sex life (albeit not in such blunt terms).
Status might be invoked, but in the context of “Buy our product and others will think you are a superior person because of it.”
Not “Others will desire you more.”
Prior to the 1920s, there was a surprisingly large amount of nudity in popular media, both as illustrations and as advertising.
That’s because in the 19th and early 20th century, nudity in print was perceived as a wholesome, healthy ideal.
It represented purity, perfection.
It was not meant to be taken literally, and for the most part readers and consumers didn’t fixate the nudity itself.
Look at this cover of a 1920s drug store trade publication urging store owners to sell more milk shakes at their soda fountains.
The image they used to promote this idea was a naked teenage couple sipping the same shake through straws.
They were just wholesome, healthy kids.
But starting in the 1920s, a whole host of rapidly changing factors transformed first American, and then European, and finally worldwide pop culture.
Pornographic images and writings have always existed, but prior to the 20thcentury they tended to be private things, either kept from public view or confined to areas where such material was accepted (red light districts, etc.).
Nude images were found in the public sphere, but as noted, almost always depicting an ideal, not eroticism. (Go look at the Sistine Chapel if you don’t believe me, it’s only 2 clicks away.)
But as the 20thcentury progressed, as the various social factors changed our culture, advertisers began relying on sex appeal more and more.
Most of the time it was wholesome enough -- everybody fully dressed, nobody acting inappropriately -- but the underlying message was always “you’re nothing if nobody wants you.”
It preyed on a very real human anxiety in order to sell junk nobody really wanted, much less needed.
In the process, it became something that very much fed upon itself, using the sexual anxiety it created to generate even more sexual anxiety to sell even more product.
The further into the 20th century we progressed, the more advertisers used sex appeal to promote a consumer economy.
Back in the 1980s, I was one of the writers and then a story editor on the original G.I. Joe TV series. Five times a week, 52 times a year, for well over five years we told stories about G.I. Joe fighting “a ruthless terrorist organization out to conquer the world.”
Our target audience was enlistment age on September 11, 2001.
Now, I’m not saying this was some deep, dark conspiracy to set the stage of the current Middle East situation.
But I am saying after seeing 1,300 viewings of a popular TV show about fighting “a ruthless terrorist organization out to conquer the world,” the idea that there might be a ruthless terrorist organization out to conquer the world was not an alien thought to those kids-now-young-adults.
The war was easier to sell because of that, even if it wasn’t the intent.
That thought has weighed heavily on my mind for the better part of two decades.
© Buzz Dixon