MACS 320 Assignment 1
A cultural rut makes the person observing or consuming the culture a slave to their own chains in a figurative sense. This could be somewhat of an “Allegory of the Cave” reference. Many Americans today spend hours upon hours consuming pop culture through their phones, computers or the television. It becomes second nature to turn on the television to binge-watch a popular TV series or browse through a social media app to read news about a celebrity or the newest iPhone once you get off of work. That wouldn’t be such a problem if there was some variety in the type of culture being consumed, but the fact of the matter is that almost all Americans will be following the same type of culture and trends created by media and government for years to come. These examples tie perfectly into Althusser’s writings on ideology and how culture was used to essentially control the masses through false or imaginary representations of themselves.
“Men represent their real conditions of existence to themselves in an imaginary form.” (Althusser 339.) Althusser then goes to on state that this practice of an “imaginary form” was used heavily in the eighteenth century by priests and despots as a way to control the rest of the population. They created a cultural rut for the masses to follow willingly so that a governing body could have control over them. This interpretation of a cultural rut may seem malicious, and maybe even a little pessimistic, but culture extends right into government and politics. I would say as of now, I’m not in a cultural rut simply because this course, MACS 320, has already challenged me to try new things and to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been relatively open-minded since I was a child because my parents raised me in a pretty liberal fashion.
The biggest thing that struck me about that podcast was when they spoke about getting outside your comfort zone because everybody has a certain limitation or preference of culture that has been ingrained in their heads for decades, whether intentional or not. To put this simply, everybody is wired or taught to believe in a certain way. Exploring different cultures and ideas that don’t resonate with your beliefs allows you to see the world and your existence in a different light. I liked that point. It reminded me that everybody interprets life in their own unique way and that we should always consider somebody else’s point of view of a story.
I came across this entire network of channels that pertained to picking up women on YouTube after I clicked on a string of related prank videos. For brevity’s sake, I will focus mainly on a YouTube channel called “rsdfreetour.” (The image requested for this blog is in the hyperlink.) They create instructional videos and host seminars that incorporates a lot of pseudoscience and general manipulation of the fragile, desperate human psyche to make hundreds of young men conform and agree with the information the speakers were spewing. The coaches speak of concepts like “self-improvement” and “being an alpha male” while teaching men to seduce women in a pretty misogynistic manner. 90,000 subscribers isn’t much for a YouTube channel nowadays, but there’s a large enough demographic of men following this company to justify this as a popular culture piece.
I chose this piece of media because it’s ridiculous to think that anybody over 14 years of age would fall for such a ridiculous program that charges you thousands of dollars to learn to seduce women into having sex with you. Lo and behold, hundreds of men show up to take this “boot camp”, and the instructors that teach these courses are probably making six figures or more due to the gullibility of the masses. This is completely out of my comfort zone because I for one, could have been susceptible to this marketing if I were desperate enough, and two, a lot of the things these men say are so cringe-worthy to that point that I’m embarrassed to listen to it. I couldn’t imagine watching or listening to this on a regular basis!
Watching and listening to these men babble about “the law of attraction” and “the hand of god” made me roll my eyes more times than I could count. Exploring other pieces of popular culture usually means you learn something about another walk of life. Never would I have thought that there would be an entire industry, not just rsdfreetour, that sold ideology so well to such a tight-knit demographic. I would not watch or listen to something like this again for pleasure, but it is definitely an interesting topic to discuss or research with colleagues or friends. I’d say this type of media is definitely geared towards somebody like me. College-aged males are at, or moving towards the height of their libido, and many men have trouble with flirting.
Watching this definitely opened my eyes to how naive people are if you push the right buttons or pull the right heart strings. The money these men spent on these “boot camps” could have been spent on buying drink and going out on dates with actual women! I couldn’t stop frowning and making faces when I watched these videos.
This company, Real Social Dynamics, works exactly like the, “A Face in the Crowd” reading by Maloney. The instructors of these seminars puts on a facade and keeps their listeners happy by spewing the same thing over and over again so that the masses return for more content. In Lonesome’s case, he’s manipulating the crowd by convincing them to buy Vitajex. In the RSD crowd, they’re convincing their audience to pay for seminars and “boot camps.” It’s just stunning how all of the concepts we learned in class can apply to such a wide range of media. The fact that I found culture that resonated so much with our readings is a little terrifying. It makes me start wondering, am I consuming the right type of culture that will help improve my life and well-being? I’m already conscience of how ludicrous these YouTube videos are, but are the things I’m interpellating on a regular basis doing more harm than good? Is everything I’m learning in school actually the “right” thing to learn?
I question that a lot as a Broadcast Journalism major. My journalism teachers teach me and hundreds of other students that journalists should be ethical, truthful, accurate and neutral when reporting the news. Yet, if we look back in American history, yellow journalism ran rampant in the 60s and 70s, and extremely biased, opinionated articles were the journalistic standard up until the 1950s. Is this an example of political hegemony over the supposed virtuous nature of journalism? Are the men buying into the promises by RSD just another example of interpellation by a higher order, or are they actually benefiting from it? What about “A Face in the Crowd”? American Journalism?
- Althusser, L. (1970). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Compass2g.
- Maloney, C. (1999). The Faces in Lonesome’s Crowd: Imaging the Mass Audience in A Face in the Crowd. Ypsilanti, MI: Eastern Michigan University, Compass2g
- Real Social Dynamics Nation
- Real Social Dynamics Nation
@rsdnation – https://www.youtube.com/user/rsdfreetour/videos