The Power Behind a Capitalistic Society: Through the Lens of Popular Music

It is easy to assume that American culture, through media, has altered the worlds ideas of acceptability of norms in society. American big business has become the leader of cultural hegemony and on many platforms, they have destroyed basic societal norms that cultures have built to maintain a moral code within their own communities.   Just as in  the power behind media through music, television, movies and printed material penetrates popular culture to the extent that underlying hints of sexism and racism go undetected. If  they are noticed and or are blatant, somehow they are excepted and circulated throughout the world forcing the consumer  to claim some type of ownership over something that does not reflect their basic makeup.

This is because, “societies function by masking their ideologies as “natural” systems of value or belief. As a consequence, it is easier for us to recognize ideologies of other times and cultures than within our own.” (51 Struken) This idea, in fact, is not the fault of an individual artist or subject. They are simply pawns in a capitalistic society. In the piece, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Sociologist Gustav Le Bon points out that, ” The ideas of the past, although half destroyed, being still very powerful, and the ideas which are to replace them being still in the process of formation, the modern age represents a period of transition and anarchy.” Although Le Bon speaks in a more political vein, it still holds true within the politics of mass media.

The transition that american culture continuously goes through effects the world. In fact, ” It is only by obtaining some sort of insight in to the psychology of crowds that it can be understood how slight is the action upon them of laws and institutions, how powerless they are to hold any opinions other than those which are imposed upon them and to be led, but by seeking what produces an impression on them and what seduces them.” (LeBon xiv)This idea speaks towards the powerlessness of the mass consumer. This also points a major finger at the producers carelessness when creating content for consumption. If they are more worried about the popular idea, at some point quality is neglected. This idea can also speak to artists that create music that reflects nothing but what the masses enjoy, begins to lack positive messages while promoting cultural immorality.

The mass consumer has no choice but to except the ever changing norms produced and fed to them.  Theorists Karl Marx thought of, “ideoalogy as a kind of false conciousness that was spread by dominant powers among the masses, who are coerced by those in power to mindlessly buy into the belief systems that allow industrial capitalism to thrive.”  (51 Sturken) When looking through the lens of popular music many recognize R&B artist Beyonce Knowles  as a master of her craft and a genius business woman. A course has been developed at Rutgers University focused on Knowles. Not many artists have such power and influence on popular culture but because of, “how hegemony works, with the dominant culture in constant flux as it works in tension with marginal cultures,”(69 Sturken) Rutgers University has added a course that will generate intrest in attending their University, thus, creating more capital.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

One must ask how rich in substance this course will be. Not only has Knowles made female empowerment songs, she has also created songs and videos distastefully exposing black women in media. As of recent, Knowles generally is being depicted as overly sexual. Some of her songs such as, ‘Partiton’ and ‘Drunk in Love,’ from her recently released self titled album are not songs that should be analyzed on a midterm as an example of insightful or enlightning music. On many levels, this ill representation does show that their is not a a complete shift in how far the producer of media within a capitalistic society  will go to keep the spectacle going. The spectacle is the production of mass media consumed by every last person in society, forcing us to continuously forget that, “in reality they are part of a sexist continuum, necessary for the maintenance of patriarchal social order.” (Bell Hooks Essay: Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap?-Misogyny, Gangsta Rap, and The Piano) This idea in turn, deems Beyonce Knowles the prefect representative for a group of people that have always through music,television, and film over sexed and inherently lacking in morals.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Unfortunately, when someone as talented and beautiful as Beyonce Knowles is used as an example of how black women should not be portrayed it is simply hard to except. As consumers we are interpellated, or  by definition, “images interpellate or hail us as viewers, and in so doing designate the kind of viewer they intend us to be.”(53 Sturken)  Knowles just as many other artists are also apart of this process and in turn become a player in the spectacle.  it is easier to understand that, if we are always already defined as subjects and are interpellated to be who we are then there is little hope for social change. The representatives will constantly change while the conversation of acknowledging  the power behind the producer will continue and remain the same.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s