Art and Mass Media essay

The contemporary culture tends to the shift toward mass media as the main source of cultural norms and values since it is mass media that shape, to a significant extent, views and beliefs of people, determine their cultural values and define their priorities. In contrast to the past, when visual art and literature played the leading part in shaping the cultural values, although it is still possible to trace certain correlations between the art of the past and cultural values shaped by the contemporary mass media.

The 18th – 19th century American art bore the footprint of the revolutionary struggle of the US for independence and American Civil War which were key historical turning points which shaped the present US society. For instance, many artists of the past paid a lot of attention to interracial relations, including H.B. Stow, F. Douglass and others. However, this theme remained relevant in the 20th century too. For instance, Griffith’s Birth of the Nation uncovers complex interracial relations in the US society and tends to the prejudiced depiction of African Americans. Contemporary mass media promotes rather consumerist values and uncover people being overwhelmed by the consumerist attitude to their life. For instance, The American Beauty depicts the main character, who attempts to struggle against his conventional consumerist lifestyle but he eventually dies, when he is about to change his life, that implicitly means the overwhelming impact of consumerism that virtually kills people, who are not consumerists. The similar message conveys the film Wall Street where wealth and status are depicted as the primary goal of human life.

Thus, the contemporary culture becomes vulnerable to the overwhelming impact of mass media which mirror new trends, norms and cultural values.

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