Pop culture has power; does it also have a responsibility?

In a previous post in which I discussed the power of pop culture, I wrote the following:

As much as we may wish it were not so, we can’t ignore the power of pop-culture and the influence it has had, and will continue to have, on the public perception of autism.

(You may have also seen a version of this post earlier this year, when I reposted it in the wake of the ABC Eli Stone story. And, no, I’m going to repost the whole thing again 😉

In the article Film comedy courts controversy; mental disabilities heart of issue, Jenny Goode, chief executive officer of the Betty Hardwick Center, has the following to say about pop culture::

“What we need to consider as responsible adults is that things that occur in pop culture, movies, television and books are things that people do use in some sort of layman’s way to educate themselves or to learn from or emulate in their own lives,” she said. “These things are repeated by young people and adults alike.”

These two quotes together brought to mind those immortal words of wisdom from Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben (yes, another somewhat gratuitous pop culture reference): “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do the creators of pop culture – or any kind of “culture” – have a responsibility to wield their power responsibly?

Or is it our responsibility as consumers of pop culture to understand what it is that we are consuming and put it into the proper perspective for our own lives?

3 thoughts on “Pop culture has power; does it also have a responsibility?

  1. I think both factions have a responsibility here. Those producing films, books, media representation -whatever -should be comprehending of how their product does/could affect others and the consumer, by the same token, needs to equally understand that it’s not an ideal world we live in and therefore, where possible, try to be a “teaching” receptacle, was well as a receiving one.


  2. I disagree with framing the viewer of pop culture entirely as a consumer of it. Do we choose to get bombarded by the sexual slant of TV advertising? Or by the perhaps fraudulent claims of the latest neutraceutical? Or heaven forbid, exercise device? The Networks take away choice from the matter during AD breaks.

    I realize that what they perceive as desired by the population may drive their content, and also realize that tuning into a show then makes me responsible for careful consumption of that show’s content, but I certainly did not choose to have a billboard placed where I have no choice but to see it.


  3. Hollywood doesn’t own our culture. We all take part in creating the culture when we talk with others in our communities, when we blog, when we worship, when we teach our children, and when we make choices in our daily lives. All of us — not just those in the media spotlight — have a responsibility to consider the effects of our words and our choices on others.


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