Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

The Government Shutdown: Politics as War by Other Means

Originally published on October 8, 2013 in the History News Network, which can be accessed here: http://hnn.us/article/153522

With the shutdown of the federal government, we are a nation at war. While the vast majority of citizens would be content with almost any peaceable resolution, their elected leaders at the barricades keep the country in wartime footing. War emerges when political or diplomatic means fail; and war brings destruction. Witness the hardships that have already emerged from even a few days of shutdown, and there is no end in sight.

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Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

Democracy’s close watch on our government’s reputation factory

Originally published on July 4, 2013 in the Orlando Sentinel; which can be accessed here: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-xpm-2013-07-04-os-ed-nsa-snowden-070513-20130703-story.html

Most Americans have been aware of government surveillance for security purposes, but few realize the extent of these programs.

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Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

Unsustainable Politics, 2012

This piece was originally published in Volume 5, Issue 6 of the Sustainability journal. 

There were no ads during the presidential debates. This is the exception that proves the rule in modern America. Nascar drivers broadcast their endorsing companies across their outfits, and the rest of us more subtly wear logos of brand-name clothing.

Advertisers study us very closely to know just what we want; beneath our talk and even our thoughts, what will we pay for? In soccer, the eyes don’t announce a player’s next move, but the feet will. So to understand the political choices that were offered to us during the 2012 election season, don’t just look to the party platforms, the political speeches, the debates, or even the political ads presented during the most richly funded campaigns in world history. Look to the ads for other products.

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Popular Culture and Cultural Politics, Uncategorized

We are all weathermen now

January 2011

Another act of gruesome violence offers a painful reminder of the seething angers that lurk beneath daily life. The suspected shooter in Arizona (I avoid his name to keep from promoting his dark celebrity) may have no connection to extremist politics himself, but his depraved act is a reminder of the intense political views that have spurred violence of word and deed, as they have for years.

Most people lament the level of polarization that has overtaken our political discourse almost as much as they are horrified by the violence, but the polarization persists and even grows.

Just a few months ago, respected education professor William Ayers approached retirement at the University of Illinois, Chicago, but he was denied his bid for professor emeritus status. His case is a symbol of how we have not escaped our history—or our anger.

Read on here.

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Popular Culture and Cultural Politics

Chocolat: A gentle endorsement of change

June 2001

It is easy to view Lasse Hallstrom’s movie Chocolat as a light and tasty treat. It is a fanciful story about a 1959 traditional French village transformed by the opening of “Chocolaterie Maya.”

Well, it is simple—like a fairy tale. Taken for what it is, a morality tale with social types standing in for contemporary social issues, it is a charming fable with and easy-to-taste moral about the forces of modernization and the liberalization of tradition as the best response.

…read more by clicking here!

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