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American Popular Culture in 2 Broke Girls



Popular Culture

The American nation is a nation of emigrants. Therefore, from the very beginning of the United States of America, its culture has been forming under the influence of emigrants from all parts of the world. Thus, according to Gruesz (20), the name “America” has been used “as a term of consolidation, homogenization, and unification, not a term that invites recognition of difference, dissonance, and plurality – all issues of crucial import in the past-civil rights movement era”. Therefore, American culture developed as a culture of a new human community of one of the first republics in the world, with its specific features and virtues.

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At the same time, a new kind of culture emerged. It was a popular culture, which included new ideas, attitudes, images, and other phenomena. First of all, popular culture denoted the education of all classes of the community. It was a new social phenomenon, which caused heavy criticism of religious and countercultural groups. Nevertheless, the education of the American working class was necessary to improve quality and to increase the quantity of producing, in order to make American products competitive in the world’s market. Therefore, American society began improving via education. After World War II, popular culture became the culture of image, consumer, and mass consumption.

According to John Storey, the Industrial Revolution caused popular culture, which has six definitions. Thus, popular culture is “widely favored or well-liked by many people,” “a residual category, there to accommodate texts and practices that fail to meet the required standards to qualify as high culture,” “mass-produced commercial culture, whereas high culture is the result of an individual act of creation,” “that originates from ‘the people’,” “struggle between the ‘resistance’ of subordinate groups and the forces of ‘incorporation’ operating in the interests of dominant groups,” and culture, “informed by recent thinking around the debate on postmodernism,” that is, “postmodern culture” (Storey 5-12).

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American popular culture developed as an integral part of the development of its economy, politics, and society. It became a part of the American Dream and turned into global popular culture as a result of the historical development of human society. Nowadays, differences between races, nations, traditions, moralities, and virtues are erasing under the influence of globalization. Thus, American democracy, lifestyle, virtues, and civic society became the major virtues of the European Union, countries of the Third World, and newly independent states, emerged after the collapse of the world’s communists system.

Furthermore, Storey states that such scholars as Arnold, Leavis, Thompson, and others emphasize the major role of the educational system in the development of the civic society and protection of democracy and culture. At the same time, mass culture can pose a danger to humankind when it will have dehumanizing effects, caused by the scanty education, which will lead to the crisis not only of mass culture but the whole human society.

The social and economic progress of human society deeply influences popular culture. Emerging television enforced globalization. According to Straubhaar (683), contemporary television is an important tool for globalization, which “includes several levels of operation, investment, production, flow, and impact”. Because of the television, the United States became the main media exporter in the world. American movies of various genres, advertisements, interpreters of various political and economic events became available in the whole world because of the modern communications satellite system and the global computerization. Thus, the United States implements the export of its popular culture and political, social, and democratic attitudes all over the world.

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American Sitcom 2 Broke Girls

A well-known American sitcom 2 Broke Girls is one of the striking examples of an American impact on the process of globalization with the help of depicting relations, culture, attitudes, working, and recreations of common Americans of various ethnic and racial groups. American life is shown in an entertaining and unobtrusive way. 2 Broke Girls was created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, CBS for Warner Brothers Television in 2011. Two American girls Max Black (Kat Dennings) and Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) decided to start their business on producing and selling cupcakes.

It is a typical comedy about the American Dream of the two poor girls, and their misadventures on the way to get rich. 2 Broke Girls won People’s Choice Awards for Favorite New TV Comedy and Emmy Awards for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series in 2012. At the same time, American life is depicted with all specific problems, typical for the contemporary American society. It is necessary to analyze Episode 1 of Season 3 to consider the current economic and cultural climate of the United States with a piece of popular culture.

Max Black and Caroline Channing are two main characters, waitresses at the Williamsburg Diner. Max is a poor girl, who had a deprived childhood. Her friend Beth was a former rich girl, who became poor. Therefore, they both had to work two jobs, in order to start their business. They borrowed money from a Polish lady Sophie Kaczynski. It is a usual thing when young people borrow a certain sum of money to start any business and have to work two jobs in order to pay back the debts. Max and Caroline rented the Williamsburg Dine from Han Lee, a Korean-American, who has not been accustomed to living in the United States and Americans turned him into a target for various jokes.

Therefore, the comedy is considered to be racist because Han Lee is a Korean, a standing jest. Of course, he is a rich man, but nobody should laugh at any person just because he or she does not know local customs or traditions. Furthermore, there is a conflict between Han Lee and the white American girls in that episode because Max and Caroline arranged to sell cupcakes and drinking through the window, facing the streets. Han Lee wants to increase the sum for the rent, but girls do not agree, and Lee falls into a rage and overturns a table. British customers stick up for the girls. Of course, it is a racial conflict because Lee was treated ill by whites constantly.

At that time, Max defends Han because she has some pity for the helpless little man. It is a noble action of the white girl towards the Korean. As the result, Lee agrees with the girls run the business for free. In this scene, Lee and the girls become friends. Thus, the comedy is not racial because the white girl made a stand for the Korean. She protected her compatriot from the foreigners.

Max and Caroline are very liberated modern girls. They both do not think that they can do some things, which are very unpleasant for older people. It happened when Caroline pointed out the logo on her and Max’s shirts to an older African American man, Earl. Earl could not stare at the girls’ breasts because, first of all, he respected himself and was a wise man. Of course, Caroline would have never acted in such a way if Earl had been a white man because she would feel shame, and so would Max. It was the other racial scene when two white girls felt their superiority over the older African American.

American society is depicted in the sitcom as a group of people of various ethnic and racial groups. The film is not racist because everybody feels like an American, and each of them will protect any compatriot from foreigners like Max protected Lee, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or religion. At the same time, the American Dream will lose its significance, when there is no future in further life. Thus, the two girls work hard for the sake of nobody. Sometimes they seem to run around for their own shade.

For instance, Carolina will never forget her former wealthy life, but she will never get rich because she is not a leader. She cannot get married to a rich man because American society is a capitalist society when success is measured by a quality of money. When she makes any sufficient fortune, many years will pass, and Caroline will become old, and so will Max. Therefore, Oleg, Max, Sophie, and other characters do not have real love and have to use temporary relationships.

American Pop Culture

American popular culture can pose a danger to humankind when it will have dehumanizing effects, caused by the scanty education, which will lead to the crisis not only of mass culture but the whole human society. Comedy, as an example of American popular culture, has historically been used as a primary mechanism for racism, sexism, and xenophobia because people of different races and ethnicity are depicted as ridiculous and stupid characters, which causes feelings of superiority over them among white people. Thus, the scanty education can lead to the decay of culture and human society because education leads the human society to culture and progress. At the same time, culture develops with the economy, politics, and society.

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