||Main >> News Listing >> December 2003 >> Article ID 3175
| Mass media affects more than the United States||Type: Internet Article|
|Mass media affects more than the United States||Dec 04, 2003|
|by Elina Martynova|
Elina Martynova is a graduate student in journalism from Russia. She gives her opinion of effects mass media, pop music, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears have on Russia.
|Britney Spears is as much the rage in Russia as she is in the United States. This news may come as a surprise for her US fans, but really should not. The same conditions that make a youthful celebrity in the United States exist throughout the world. Mass media and other forms of mass entertainment, such as concerts, have seen to that. |
Spears’ target audience in Russia is the same as in the U.S.: 11 to 16 year old children and teenagers, mostly girls. They make up numerous fan clubs of varying sizes. As for older youths and adults, a Spears fan might be exposed to taunts in Russia. For adults to love this singer means to have bad taste,
especially by those who are admirers of Russian rock, a heartfelt and meaningful form of unique music, especially when compared to American pop.
Russian psychologists and pediatricians, in addition to scientists throughout the world, are concerned about the impact of low-quality pop music and video production on the young generation.
While studying in the US, I have found a number of paradoxes of American life. For instance, Americans are very sensitive to the invasion of their privacy. On the other hand, they are hungry for details of the private lives of celebrities. It seems that celebrities belong to the public.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you are a celebrity, you stand in the nude in the middle of a hornet’s nest. Everyone takes note of your vulnerability, passing up no opportunity to sting you.
Even if someone does not like a singer or an actor, he or she is forced to know the details of the performer’s life. Media impose this kind of news. In America, the private lives of celebrities are somehow more important than their talent.
What really makes a celebrity in this kind of environment? Is it talent or is it PR? Most likely the latter is paramount.
One of the first Russians to follow the American model of promotion is tennis player Anna Kournikova. Nobody remembers her success on the tennis court, but everyone knows about her photo sessions. Anna, a man’s dream, is not supposed to win games. She just needs to appear at the court sometimes.
As a music star, Spears only has to live in an expensive apartment in New York City, show her navel on stage, give interviews to TV journalists, and appear on the cover of fashionable magazines dressed with minimum clothes to promote her music. None of these things display her talent.
Her PR is simple; her PR is standard. But it is enough for her admirers, who want to relax while listening to Spears’ songs and dream while looking at the sexy girl on the TV screen. They need to have only two types of gratification associated with Britney Spears’ image: emotional release and wishful thinking.
Nobody would blame people for their vital necessities. There is an old anecdote in Russia about a concert attended by many from the Caucasus region. The famous female singer was overweight to some, but to the Caucasus fans she was voluptuous.
She sang for two hours and after that said to the public “good bye.” But they wouldn’t let her go, asking for encore after encore. The singer became exhausted. At last, she said that she could sing no more.
Someone yelled, “Don’t sing, just walk across the stage!” In other words, these fans got excited not from her singing, but from looking at her voluptuous form. People from the Caucasus area are known for their admiration of large, overweight women.
The issue of mass culture is very complicated in the aspect of what it should provide — therapy or education? Is it possible to educate through therapy?
The word “mass” means a broad encompassing that might be beneficial in educational aims. At the same time, in Russia, for a few dozen years this word has been pronounced with a tint of squeamishness.
“Mass culture” is something that is undignified to intelligent people, because of its low level of quality. The very thing that makes pop culture accessible is, to educated people, the root of the contempt.
Before the Iron Curtain that divided the planet into two worlds fell, children in the USSR sang innocent songs about friendship, the sun, birds, swings, seals, etc. In a word, their songs were as romantic as their thinking. Now Russian kids listen to native and foreign pop music rather than sing their innocent songs.
It may be considered as a mark of modern times. Are parents happy with this situation? Remembering their “golden childhood and adolescence,” parents don’t want to give approval to songs with hidden or open sexual hints reaching their children.
Because of TV and the Internet, opposing this kind of music is like trying to stop a silt stream. The reality is that parents cannot oppose pop adult music by countering cute songs for kids. I can sing two dozen nice children's songs from my childhood, but cannot remember even one from the past 10 years.
Ironically, the era of children’s songs in Russia ended when perestroika and glasnost began. “A holy place cannot be an empty place,” states a Russian proverb. Now “holy places” in children’s minds seem to be occupied by lyrics, bumps and grinds from Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
In Russia, people who are not fans of these singers call their songs “music for feet.” People use this music at their parties.
Compared to American parties, most of which are restricted by time, Russian parties are not limited by certain amount of hours.So if you write in your invitation for a Russian friend that your party will be from 3 to 5 p.m., he or she might not understand. Russian party is always “until” and accompanied by singing, dancing, eating and talking.
Russians usually sing their folk or bard songs, but dance with modern rhythms. If intelligent people are going to gather, it may be a problem to find appropriate music for dance.
“Do you have something rhythmic?” someone asks his or her friend. “Are you kidding? I don’t collect trash!” the friend answers. “But I can ask my baby sister.”
According to my observation, the same is going on in the United States. The difference remains in the location where Russians and Americans listen to pop music. Many Russians bring it out at parties; Americans more likely listen in their cars and bedrooms.
When I asked a 21-year-old American if she liked Britney Spears, that student responded, “Britney is cute and good looking. She is always cheerful. I like to listen to her songs sometimes while I am driving, but I don’t have her CDs. I am not going to buy music that I don’t want to listen to everyday.”
Another friend, a university professor, told me that she listens to only Christian music at her home and in her car, because she is exposed to trash sounds everywhere: in the stores, offices, and somebody’s house.
I found that in America, some people consider such singers as Britney Spears as a threat to people’s morality. They think her behavior opposes the norms of the American lifestyle based on the country’s Puritanical origins.
Today in Russia, pediatricians are greatly concerned that a lot of popular songs carry potentially harmful health messages.
Numerous studies in Russia and abroad indicate that music lyrics with references to sex, drugs and violence might increase psychiatric disorders, suicide and risk-taking in general.
While the scientists appeal to performers to serve as positive role models for children and teens, broadcasters and the music industry throughout the world do their everyday job: to disseminate music with an opposite appeal.
Russian writer Leo Tolstoy claimed that music is a state concern. In other words, a government is responsible for the music stream that rains down on people every day.
Does that suggest censorship? In my opinion, Leo Tolstoy encouraged us to educate our young generation according to ancient traditions, keeping the essence and spirit of the Russian culture. When you know,
understand and respect your native culture, and when you consider yourself as a part of it, you are less likely to be influenced by low-quality domestic pop culture and foreign mass culture, which is not always sophisticated.
At the same time, I cannot ignore the obvious blending of cultures taking place worldwide. For instance, a lot of people in Russia grew up with music of such great talents as the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
As for individuals, mass culture is like a childhood illness, a kind of chicken pox, which we need to endure once and then forget about.
But as anyone can observe, a severe case of chicken pox can leave scars for life.
Source: Dateline Alabama
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