Movie Theater As a Popular Term Paper

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Perhaps there is something deeper to Twilight than anyone is willing to admit. So, then, we must ask ourselves: What are these films about? Is there not something revealing even about the reflections seen in popular culture? Cannot pop culture, therefore, be considered part of high culture? Must it be discarded simply because it is popular? I don't think that it must. And yet there is something distinctly different about the Tree of Life that Twilight simply does not have. One might call it vision or purpose. Perhaps this is the difference between high culture and popular culture. Needless to say, however, at a cinema one may often choose either/or.

Still, Umberto Eco states that "according to traditional standards in aesthetics, Casablanca is not a work of art, if such an expression still has meaning" (Eco 197). This is an interesting observation by Eco for a number of reasons. First, it points out that one of the most celebrated movies of all time is not what traditionalists or high culture purists would classify as part of high culture: it is a pop culture phenomenon. Secondly, however, Eco qualifies his statement with the curious phrase "if such an expression still has meaning." It is indicative of the radical transformation in the way art and culture are now analyzed both by amateurs and scholars, low and high cultures, that Eco should have to add this qualifier. Why might going to the movie theater to see a film by Antonioni be considered participation in high culture? What distinguishes a work by him or Malick from a standard Hollywood studio production? Again, we arrive at the same question. If popular culture scholars are compelled to give such a definition, it may be because "high culture" descended into the ranks of popular culture through the works of such artists as Richard Hamilton, Jaspar Johns, and Andy Warhol.

This idea may help explain why John Storey theorizes that it is difficult to separate popular culture from high culture, since there are many works of high culture that are also popularly admired and thus a part of popular culture (Storey 4). A few examples might be the works of Shakespeare (still being produced into films shown at the movie theater). I remember seeing Romeo and Juliet at the cinema with friends and enjoying it very much (as did a good portion of the world, which made it a blockbuster at the cinema). It seems that just because something is popular neither makes it part of low or high culture. Such qualifiers as low and high tell us something about the works of popular culture, but low and high culture do not keep themselves separate from popular culture. Popular culture embraces both low and high culture, which is why some comedies and dramas at the movie theater may be low or high. It is not always just a matter of subjective opinion but also a matter of objective fact: The Tree of Life is not the same kind of entertainment as Twilight -- and yet both may be said to be part of popular culture. Thus, I am in agreement with Storey's view, since it is obvious that just because something is part of popular culture does not mean it is automatically not a part of high culture.

The lectures and readings of this course have challenged me to think about the way I regard such simple things as going to the movies. Prior to this course I must admit that I did not ponder such experiences very deeply. But now I see that I have always considered the movie-going experience in a particular way and from a particular perspective. What may have been an experience in popular culture was also sometimes for me an experience in high culture.

Works Cited

Eco, Umberto. Travels in Hyperreality. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990.

Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

Serper, G. "Smackdown of the Week: Stephen King vs. Twilight's Stephanie

Meyer." 2009. Web. Sept 25, 2012.

Storey, John. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Eco, Umberto. Travels in Hyperreality. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990.

Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

Serper, G. "Smackdown of the Week: Stephen King vs. Twilight's Stephanie

Meyer." 2009. Web. Sept 25, 2012.

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