Over the past two weeks, our readings and discussions have been focused on establishing a baseline for understanding popular culture. In this module, we’ll begin our tour through the four lenses, beginning with history. As we dive into the four lenses, keep in mind that each lens is framed as a way of seeing the world around us and is not necessarily tied to the associated discipline. So, looking through the historical lens isn’t just about History Channel documentaries—it’s also about how you use the lens to understand the past and present. As you write your initial post, answer the following questions:

  • In what ways does looking through the history lens enhance your understanding of popular culture?
  • Consider a current event in the news that portrays a historical element. How does looking through the history lens influence how you perceive both the current and historical cultures referenced? Please share a news link to your event.
  • How does analyzing the relationship between history, culture, and popular culture have an influence on your discipline of study or chosen profession?

    Respond to at least two of your classmates. Compare and contrast your answers to further everyone’s understanding of popular culture and the lens of history.

    Reply 1: By looking through the history lens of a pop culture artifact, you can see just how influential that artifact has become from its inception. I believe by analyzing the history of a pop culture artifact, you should be able to surmise how it will continue to grow and possibly how it may impact the near future. In recent history we have witnessed an explosion in the way households watch television. What used to be a family affair, where the whole family gathered around the only television in the home to watch a black and white show that was suitable for everyone. I can remember watching TV in our family room with the fire going and having to get up and adjust the “rabbit ears” antenna to get a better picture. Later, televisions became colorized, and over time became less expensive so homes contained multiple TVs. This lead to the family being split between rooms watching different programs at the same time. Programming also began to become less family oriented. Also during this time the way that the television received it’s signal changed. TV was now accessible by cable giving a broader range of programming for a fee. I believe it is at this time that the television programming changed dramatically into a less family friendly as more adult programming became popular. This non family friendly programming continued to isolate the younger kids from the older family members. Parents were watching their shows after the children had gone to bed. Recently, the evolution of TV streaming services supported by an insurgence of accessible internet has further changed the way in which television is being watched. Most notably the streaming services of Netflix and Hulu. As Sietz noted “Netflix has amassed nearly 152 million subscribers worldwide, including 60 million in the U.S.” (2019). Netflix created a bigger divide in family viewing as each member can have their own viewing experience by choosing the parental controls, and their favorite programming genre. Also, as it is an internet streaming service, it can be viewed not only on televisions but also on computers, and even phones. In graphic design, understanding culture, popular culture and history is vitally important. One of the biggest mistakes designers can make is to create an advertising campaign that is not culturally acceptable, or has an involuntary root in a negative historical event. Graphic design needs to be all inclusive and cannot isolate a group of people. Understanding what is current in pop culture can also advance a design into a pop culture piece itself.David Floyd

Reply 2: When we look through the historical lens at popular culture, we can analyze how our thoughts and ideas have changed over the years. We are able to see how perceptions of people, places, things, events, movements have advanced, or in some cases, declined over the years. We can also see how interests have changed or stayed the same. In the music world, sometimes songs are recorded over and over by different artists and become popular to new generations and genres. I remember listening to the radio and hearing “new” hit songs and my mother would tell me those songs were popular when she was a kid. When I was a teen in the early 90s, I thought the song “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, which had been on the top Rock/Pop charts a decade before, was the only version of this song. Then in 2001, Marilyn Manson released his version bringing it to an entirely different genre. I thought then, “wow a new, cool version.” It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out that the song was originally recorded in 1964 by Gloria Jones. There have actually been numerous other covers of the song over the last 55 years.

An interesting article I read today was about Melania Trump’s makeover of the White House. This immediate made me think of Jackie Kennedy’s televised White House tour in the early 1960s. Other First Ladies as caretaker of the White House have made their own restorations over the years also to keep the White House a historically accurate representation of America.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/09/18/melania-trump-white-house-decor-upgrades-first-lady-refreshes-rooms/2362783001/

The article states that Trump has refreshed, repurposed and restored the Red Room, Green Room and Blue Room. The wood brass and lighting in the elevator to the living quarters was also refinished and the bowling alley, that was installed during the Nixon administration and restored in 1994 under Clinton, was also restored.
As the most famous historical home in the country, the White House is not only the home of the head of state but a living museum of historical furniture, paintings and other decor.
“In her role as caretaker, the first lady – whoever she is – meets regularly with the chief usher, the head curator and other White House staff to figure out what improvements should top the to-do list” (Superville).
First Ladies have played pivotal roles in updating decor throughout the years. Jackie Kennedy wanted to make sure the home was furnished with historically correct furnishings. She was appalled to find that replica furnishings were being used when she and the president moved into the mansion. She created the Committee for the Preservation of the White House to collect and display only the best furnishings. In her restoration she did extensive research and hired museum experts to make sure restoration was correct. (Kryczka)
During Michell Obama’s years as First Lady, she began a project to restore the Pierre-Antione Bellange suite furnishings that were brought to the White House in 1817 by President James Monroe. The pieces were sold at auction over the years but the White House reacquired 10 of those pieces. (Superville).

In my field of graphic design, history plays a major role. Keeping up with trends in typography, color, and shapes is pivotal in the design world. Trends often follow retro themes. Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Pop Art trends of the 20s-60s often rotate in and out of fashion in graphic design. Knowing the history of these styles and movements can help grow as a designer.

Tina Campbell

Kryczka, A. (n.d.). Television and taste on the New Frontier: ‘A Tour Of The White House With Mrs. John F. Kennedy’. History & Technology,30(1/2), 123–123. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=1e776547-7acb-4d35-9045-f660057256bb@pdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ==#db=khh&AN=97923804

Superville, D. (2019, September 18). White House makeover: Melania Trump upgrades, refreshes and restores for state dinner. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/09/18/melania-trump-white-house-decor-upgrades-first-lady-refreshes-rooms/2362783001/

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