From the 1960s to the present, media culture in the United States has been a battleground between competing social groups with some artifacts advancing liberal or radical positions and others conservative ones. Likewise, some artifacts of media culture promote progressive positions and representations of gender, sexual preference, race or ethnicity, while others articulate reactionary forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and rightwing values and beliefs, thus many films articulate a contradictory matrix of liberal, radical, and reactionary representations, discourses, and narratives.
In this article, I argue that media culture can provide important insights into the psychological, socio-political, and ideological make-up of U.S. society at a given point in history. Reading culture diagnostically allows one to gain insights into social problems and conflicts, and to appraise the dominant ideologies and emergent oppositional forces. This approach thus involves a dialectic of text and context, using texts to read social realities and context to help situate and interpret key artifacts of media culture in the 21 st century.
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