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PCUL 1F92 Lecture Notes - Lady Gaga, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Durham Cathedral


Department
Popular Culture
Course Code
PCUL 1F92
Professor
Scott Henderson

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PCUL1F92 Section 1: Thursday, October-20-11
** Watched video on the Durham Cathedral – relating to notions of cultural
hegemony.
The building was meant to reinforce the power of the monarchy over the
citizens.
Moral Panics
Taking popular culture into their own hands.
Caused because people are acting outside of existing allowable social
paradigms.
This requires (by society) some form of regulation (laws/bylaws) or
commercialization to impose and control meaning. What the Power
Bloc perceives as a threat to societal values and interests. Notion that
you can regulate it and commercialize it in order to diffuse the threat.
(it – being the movement that is causing a moral panic, e.g. punk)
Graffiti is a good example of this – it is both regulated against, and also
‘sold’ as art.
Graffiti?
** Image of cave art discovered in the south of France, depicted thousands
of years ago. **
Why is this treated so reverentially, and graffiti so negatively? Are they both
not simply drawings on the wall?
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Graffiti as part of mass culture.
oIn the movie, we also see that graffiti is something saleable,
marketable, with economic value.
oSociety tries to explain moral panic (media coverage), modify
and control these panics in order to restore the power balance.
In essence, to allow the Power Bloc to have control again.
Banksy makes Mr. Brainwash look ridiculous. – Do we focus on style
and cost?
Media coverage doesn’t cover the meaning of the art, but rather treats
it as a “crazy, Banksy stunt” – how did he get that art there?
Is it at the expense of meaning?
** Replays opening of the Banksy film. Upbeat, ‘light’ music played
accompanying images of street artists graffiti-ing and tagging public spaces.
Music and editing present a positive slant on graffiti. He is using style
against itself.
John Fiske
Notes the political aspects of resistance. Heterogeneity vs.
homogeneity concerns define this kind of battle.

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PCUL1F92 Section 1: Thursday, October-20-11
We have moments of freedom or escape from dominant hegemony.
Cites the lives of surfers or video gamers who can “lose themselves” in
their activities.
These just end up being individual moments.
Personal Resistance
Doesn’t lead to any form of social resistance/political upheaval.
Fiske suggests that it can potentially lead to wide resistance.
Even though systems – especially economic, work – try to keep us ‘in
our place’.
We may find ‘escape’ in video games, but we still have to go through
the economic system of buying the console, games, etc.
Fiske argues that how we use the texts does open up some possibility
for change. In these small personal victories, there is an element of
social change, which he refers to as progressive rather than radical.
Lady Gaga
**Image of Lady Gaga**
Simply commercial or inspiration for personal empowerment?
On one hand, “Lady Gaga” is very much still a commercial product
within the capitalist system. However…
As Fiske suggests for Madonna, she also reaches out to marginalized
groups. Offers them a means of empowerment through her music.
Offers a form of progressive change.
Semiotic Resistance
The power to make meaning. As the slide says “Power over making
meaning”
Hegemony suggests that dominant culture creates and enforces its
meaning, as well as our acceptance of them.
If we resist the meanings that are offered and create our own, or new
ones, is it a means of asserting power?
Fiske refers to this a thinking differently, not just refusing the meaning,
but also creating oppositional meaning.
Does Banksy’s film create an oppositional meaning – a new way of
thinking about graffiti?
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PCUL1F92 Section 1: Thursday, October-20-11
**New slideshow presentation
Textual Analysis
in Popular Culture
Aesthetics
Control over the nature of representation is part of the controls held by
the power bloc.
oIf I get to show you the world and tell you this is how it is, that’s
a lot of power. In this sense, news organizations have a lot of
power.
Tied very much to economic control as fewer big companies control
media globally.
oe.g. Bell Globe Media owns CTV, TSN, a satellite system, internet
system.
Control over representation is therefore that of the economically
powerful.
oBig corporations control how we see things, therefore they have
a lot of economic power.
oe.g. NBC was once owned by General Electric.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that’s the only group that can make
anything.
YouTube
We have the opportunity to create media.
oHow will it reach the same wide audience that a major network
will?
But this is often blocked by other controls.
oIt is becoming increasingly commercialized, not as folk as we
would have hoped.
“Charlie Bit my Finger” once dominated the charts on YouTube, now
commercialized music videos have immensely passed that.
Discourses (of Representation)
Representation that allows for power – how the world is spoken for,
how we are told about things.
At times it is literal in economic terms.
oNetflix – offers $8/month movies, Internet providers (also TV
providers) provide data cap so that it costs a lot if you watch too
many Netflix movies. They want to control what you watch, not
what Netflix is allowing you to watch.
Social and cultural ins haping how we see or hear or interact with the
world.
** Clip of Nirvana song **
Is it just the music and lyrics we listen to?
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