Television would not be what it is today without the hegemony of our culture. The hegemonic process is where those in power secure the consent of the ones under it, who are being oppressed. In this cycle, media “relays and reproduces and processes and packages and focuses ideology” (pg. 518) and is essential in studying America’s developing society and culture, along with the dominant groups/movements/ideas occurring. Todd Gitlin divided his explanation of how hegemonic ideologies are in TV by format and formula, genre, setting and character type, slant, and solution. While all are important, I found genre and slant easiest for me to understand and apply to TV I’ve seen recently.
Genre “tells us something about popular moods” (pg. 523), giving a broad overview of a show that can be related to a certain time period of TV history. Only recently has TV opened up to the aspect of diverse families and outwardly homosexual characters (look at Modern Family and The New Normal). “Moods” shift with the general audience, as new ideologies are accepted or at least revealed in our culture. These newer representations could be an “emergent form” (pg. 532) of ideologies, though I’d argue these once non-hegemonic, anti-patriarchal ideals are now becoming a more accepted, dominant, and popular ideology.
If there is an issue apparent to an audience, because it is either political or social, TV utilizes this slant in either ignoring it or domesticating it. Nowadays I feel like television involves (domesticates) slant in programs; as in again, The New Normal (check out their election 2012 episode) and New Girl, 2 Broke Girls (feminine confidence in everyday life!). By using topics that are of concern to the audience, TV can offer views and opinions to continue and/or change hegemony.
Although even if there is an oppositional ideology, it may be integrated into the “core ideological structure” of hegemony in liberal capitalism (pg. 531). I found this very interesting, and never really thought or recognized it before! Hegemonic ideology morphs with the times as our culture and society transforms. I believe television is a great medium to mold our changing ideologies; gradually introducing and displaying either dominant and/or new ones. I’ve never noticed these changes, but looking back through TV shows’ history, one can see the once groundbreaking ideologies are now just ordinary, part of the norm. With representations in shows, especially comedies (our best way to get used to our insecurities/new ideals is to laugh at them!), society can easily view hegemony and current culture.
- Do you know any recent TV shows that have unique, unusual, or “alienating” solutions/ endings?
- Is television a successful way to introduce non-hegemonic ideologies?
- Do you believe that TV shows are aware that they are part of the hegemonic process?