This week in BCM111 we looked at media, popular culture, the interactions between the two and how globalisation in combination with the internet has impacted them. So this week I am writing about piece of popular culture I personally consume and how the theories learned in BCM111 apply to it.
First let’s have a quick look at what is popular culture? Storey (2015) talks about 6 definitions for popular culture but the commonalities between them are mass appeal, mass produced and for the people. While some of the definitions have other specific points this is the main concept we will be looking at here.
So thinking about my consumption of media specifically to narrow down the options the most popular culture I consume at the moment is Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso is a tv show currently airing its second season weekly on Apple TV +, it is about an American NFL coach who is now coaching a European football (soccer) team.
I believe that the main key theoretical reason for Ted Lasso’s popularity throughout all westernised countries is Cultural Proximity. Cultural proximity is defined by Lu et al. (2019) as “similarities in history, ethnicity, religion, language, and geography. Among them, similar language was often highlighted as an important determinant of audience preferences … Besides language, there are other cultural elements at play, such as dress, ethnic types, gestures, body language, humor, music, religion, gender image, lifestyle, personal experiences, education, family, and organizational affiliation”.
So why is this relevant to the popularity of Ted lasso? being a show centred on a sport that is globally played and recognised is a great starting point for large cultural proximity.
This is a large factor bridging between European league being the setting for the Show while brining an American coach into this environment you are immediately bridging the gap between two of the largest cultural driving regions in the world and making them both has strong cultural proximity to the show. Trepte (2008) talks about the significant cultural differences between the US Asia and Europe using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions to show these differences and how cultural proximity across these barriers can be challenging. However Trepte (2008) also uses these dimensions to show how some things do match across these cultures and I believe Ted Lasso’s use of football (soccer) with an American NFL coach achieves cultural proximity across the US and Europe.
The fact that Ted Lasso is also in English helps with the reduction of cultural polarisation as Kziazek and Webster (2008) talk about multilingual non native English speakers are far more likely to be culturally fluent with English media then the other way around as native English speakers often shows cultural polarisation.
So in summary Ted Lasso is current popular culture with strong cultural proximity and relatability to the masses across a large global audience.
John Storey – What is Popular Culture? (Cultural Theory and popular culture: an introduction, Routledge, pp. 1-16)
Lu J, Liu X, Cheng Y. Cultural Proximity and Genre Proximity: How Do Chinese Viewers Enjoy American and Korean TV Dramas? SAGE Open. January 2019. doi:10.1177/2158244018825027
Thomas B. Ksiazek M.A. and Ph.D. & James G. Webster Ph.D (2008) Cultural Proximity and Audience Behavior: The Role of Language in Patterns of Polarization and Multicultural Fluency, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52:3, 485-503, DOI: 10.1080/08838150802205876
Trepte, S. (2008) Cultural proximity in TV entertainment: An eight-country study on the relationship of nationality and the evaluation of U.S. prime-time fiction: . , Vol. 33 (Issue 1), pp. 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1515/COMMUN.2008.001