The politics of it all

Our parliament is lit.

In one session we had a debate to impeach our president, our madam chair asked to step down and a minister fall asleep. Seems a little hard to believe, but here, look

 

Oh and just a young  #tb to this piece of parliament gold

 

For the past couple of weeks I’ve mentioned the importance of politics in popular culture, causally making points to how politics is important to popular culture but never really unpacking these statements. Que today’s blog post:

Popular culture and politics in the 21st century.

Popular culture is a product of media. Media is shared through print, radio, TV, and the internet. But popular culture also shares the media with news. Politics constitutes a large part of the news. The intersection of these two concepts; news politics and popular culture thus plays out in the media in two ways

  1. Politics in popular culture.
  2. Popular culture in politics.

What do you mean? #bieberrefrence. Well this is what.

  1. Politics in pop culture

This is South Africa’s pop culture sweet spot.

Looking at the pop culture landscape in South Africa, we see that our politics play a leading role. This stems from our popular culture being shaped by a narrative of transformation  and democracy. Last year our most trending hashtags were

#FeesMustFall

#SONA2015

#NationalShutdown

#AskMmusi

#Loadshedding

Each of these hashtags are politically inclined. They stem either directly from a politician or  from a response to a politician or political event from South African society. This political pop culture is almost as essential as Aromat to the South African household. They govern not only our Twitter trends but our conversations and economy.

The firing of finance minster Nhlanhla Nene has become an example of this, seeing the Rand drop to recession time lows. R15 to $1 in the same month as Netflix its launch in South Africa was just not ok.

But it is through these kinds of intersections that  politics becomes common reference in our popular culture. And I stress our, because politics plays out in popular culture differently around the world. Cue point two.

2. Popular culture in politics.

First let’s understand some fundamentals

  • Popular culture includes entertainment industries of cinema, music, TV, sports, fashion and design, language and politics.
  • It is also has the ability to transcend boundaries that exist between and within communities
  • ICT and popular culture are dependent on one another. The advances in technology that brought us radio, TV and cinema, essentially created the platform for the sharing of mainstream popular culture.
  • People are need to produce and circulate this culture
  • These people get famous from their productions the, hence they become celebs.
  • Celebs have influence.
  • Today in addition to traditional media, celebs use the digital world to greater spread this influence

Keeping this in mind let’s look at the current US election campaign.

Every candidate has a famous celeb backer. Clinton has Clooney, Sanders has Killer Mike and Trump has Tyson, as in Mike Tyson #facetat.

These famous faces generate popularity and support for their political candidates. They use their sphere of influence to put forward the belief and policy of their politicians. By being endorsed by these famous faces politicians show that they are of the common man. That they too can relate and sing along to Roar- Katy Perry loves Clinton.

 

Moving from one democrat to another.  President Obama is a big endorser of celebrity endorsements and pop culture shows. During his 2011 campaign, not only did he have Beyonce behind him, but he made 12 appearances on late night and day time talk shows. These shows watched most people not only strengthen his campaign but also created a larger space for his sphere of influence. He along with the first lady’s appearance  on shows like Ellen and Jimmy Fallon went viral.

But the US, maybe making the change. They too are adopting more of a politics in pop culture stance. Trump. Thanks.Bye.

 

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