From web pages, to blogs and magazine covers to music videos, it is readily apparent that Pop Goes the Culture, this edition’s theme, has been embraced by the multitudes. A basic Google search on the phrase will generate well over 50,000 hits including a cover of the popular magazine, Time and the lyrics of a Top Ten song. With all the buzz, I wonder if we take the time to think about the deconstruction of culture or if we just get caught up in the entertainment value. If the idea of meshing unlike genre’ diminishes or enhances the value of the original and what price is too high for fame. This edition is full of articles which introduce the reader to the many aspects of popular culture including children’s literature, YouTube videos and images of disaster. These articles create a snapshot of culture as it is this minute and ask questions about the future.
Unquestionably the Harry Potter series has captured the attention of millions of young readers worldwide. In the article, Harry Potter and Children’s Perceptions of News Media, Sturgill, Winney and Libhart examine how the Potter series treats news media and how that treatment could affect children for generations. Heidi Hamilton’s article, “I am Not an American”: The ACLU’s Scrapbook for Freedom campaign explores the series persuasive potential for a democratic, informed citizenry. Vlogs, the latest evolution in blogs, is the subject of analysis in the article by Molyneaux, O’Donnell and Gibson titled, Exploring the Gender Divide on YouTube: An Analysis of the Creation and Reception of Vlogs. Very few news stories shaped people’s perception like those following Hurricane Katrina. In Visualizing the Rhetorical Situation of Hurricane Katrina: Photography, Popular Culture and Meanings in Images, Booth and Davisson delve into the visual aspect of rhetorical studies during a time of crisis. The long list of telecom pioneers would be amazed to see the evolution their device has undergone, Lillie in his article, Limited or Limitless? Nokia’s Mobile Regulation of Everyday Life, examines the portrayal of mobile devices as a tool of social and cultural mobility of individuality. To most of us, Sesame Street is the benchmark of children’s entertainment, in his article, Where Can Elmo Learn More? Sesame Street’s Elmo as Collector of Information, Bishop discusses the role media plays in encouraging consumption among children. The edition concludes with three insightful reviews of current text. Thank you for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Alley-Young, The Media of Mass Communication, and Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? which should all be on our reading list.
However you approach culture, be it entertainment or intensive inquiry, my hope is that after reading the articles in this edition that you ask questions, seek guidance and laugh. As Thomas Carlyle stated, “Culture is the process by which a person becomes all that they were created capable of being.” Enjoy.