In Chapter 4, Lane Crothers gives “global cultural histories” of four brands: Coke, Jeans, McDonalds, and the NFL. Crothers argues that brands, as American culture icons, have globally persuasive messages and great economic power, but may generate fear, anger, and opposition. Choose another major global brand and write a similar history, including any significant controversies (issues of morality, economic disparity, ethnic and racial stereotyping, environmental damage, etc.). In telling the brand story, it is important not to fall into advertising hype. Dont sell the brand to us. Rather, with objective distance, analyze some dimension of its global impact.
Write an essay in defense or critique of American exceptionalism. You dont have to be absolute in your claim. For example, you can argue for some dimensions of exceptionalism that you see worthy, while acknowledge the limitations of the idea. Use at least some of the readings from the course and give salient examples. Rather than discussing geopolitics and war, focus on popular culture and the cultural imperialism thesis.
Choose any celebrity who has a strong global presence. This could be a president, a first lady, a religious leader, a singer, an actor, or a sports figure. You are not bound to choose a US celebrity if youd like to discuss one from another country. Identify what kind of celebrity this is (with fame inherited, earned through talent, or solely created by media). Explain how this figure came to be a global celebrity and discuss his or her social meanings for global audiences. What ideas and values does this celebrity image contain that resonate across the world?
Crothers explains that historically, movies have often been blamed for their lax values and moral standards. More recently, the export of Hollywood films has met with opposition abroad for these same reasons, and some critics within the United States argue that Hollywood does not promote a proper American image or values. Does Hollywood have an obligation to produce films that promote a better American image and American values abroad? Why or why not? Use examples of recent movies to support your argument.
Review the list of US civic values on pages 15-16 of the Crothers text, and his discussion in Chapter 2 of the embedding of these values in American popular culture. Choose a Hollywood movie or a popular television show on a major network and discuss whether or not it contains and promotes at least some of these values. Alternatively, choose a US brand or cultural product for this exercise.
Write about the influence of a cultural form from another country on US popular culture. This could be anything from a musical style to a film genre to a media technology. Examples include a popular video game, comic book, musical group, clothing fashion, and celebrity. For example, an interesting paper could be written about the importation of otaku culture, related to manga and anime, from Japan. Write a brief history of the introduction of the form, and discuss whether U. S. consumers recognize the origins of the form or have adapted any of the styles and values embedded in it.
Discuss and evaluate the image of Detroit in popular culture. You may include movies, comic books, television shows, novels, advertising, brands, or any other cultural form. Identify the most prevalent themes. Explain how these images might be useful or detrimental to the city.
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