Pop Culture + Politics = Poplitics?

October 31, 2007
By Liz Geiman, Fort Thomas, KY

Years ago, teens began to concern themselves with worldly problems and politics early in life because of its importance in their everyday lives. Today however, our young society has found itself absorbed in a different atmosphere. Forget Washington, Democrats, and foreign alliances. Make room for Paris Hilton, plastic surgery, and Hollywood. Times have changed immensely over the years. Teens in society today have lost interest in worldly causes and have become submerged in a world full of popular culture and fads. Because of the media�s portrayal of pop culture today, and the lack of political enforcement in society, this generation�s teens idolize prodigal pop culture stars, while shading themselves in the dark of the knowledge of politics.
The media plays a great role in teaching its viewers about whatever the station broadcasts. Nielsen Media Research Inc. performed a study in which they recorded the amount of television that an average person watched. The average amount of time Nielsen found consistent for the average person was four hours every day! Getting engrossed in a television show may set you into another world in which you stay for four hours and watch worthless dribble about how the next celebrity has received another D.U.I, or how Los Angeles police have arrested a famous basketball player for beating up another rival basketball player. Think about it. How much time do you spend watching pointless television? If more educational programs run on the air, people who watch IQ-dropping programs will have the option to watch the shows that will benefit them in life. It will help teens to make political decisions and form a political opinion. If more people petitioned for better advertised educational shows, it would increase the number of viewers of the shows.
One can also find that society does not impress the importance of politics on this generation of teens well enough. Somewhere along the lines of American politics, the gravity of teens� votes has greatly decreased. Why did Congress change the voting age if eighteen-year-olds did not take advantage of the new law? Sure, we see the campaign commercials on television, but the campaigners do not stress the importance of the teens� votes. This does not necessarily mean that sanctimonious young folks should go into a voting booth and randomly fill out a ballot just to get the �I Voted� sticker. The voter should have been well enough informed to create an opinion on each candidate before choosing who would receive their vote.
In comparing these arguments, you can see that they go hand-in-hand. The reason that people watch so much television remains that the subjects stay fastened to pop culture in today�s world. Can one possibly fathom mixing these two very different ideas? Many people find politics boring compared to an ebullient pop-star�s love life record, but these two ideas can work off of each other. For example, a teen-targeted television show could trace a pop-star�s political background and preference, and display the components of the political views. This would inform the politically-blind young audience, while simultaneously entertaining the teens.
By enforcing the need for the knowledge of government and politics in our everyday lives, this generation of �brain-washed� teens may begin to participate more in the important aspects of their growing lives. It will add a sense of patriotism to our country, and it will create more erudite citizens. It will keep the next generation of teens from falling into the same trap that this generation has found itself in. It will decrease the need to know what Britney Spears will do next, and will increase the interest in what the troops will do in Iraq. But most importantly, the spread of political knowledge will instill discipline and pride into many Americans.

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