POPC 2900: Television as Popular Culture Final Exam Essays (Spring 2018)
Each of the following essay questions is worth 10 points. You may receive partial credit due to the quality of your responses. Please be as specific and detailed as possible in your answers as possible. You are to choose Any FIVE of the following from 1 to 11. Responses should be approximately 1-2 pages for essay question, So 5 pages at least, (double spacing) in length. There is no need to cite any of your facts.
Please discuss the power of advertising as discussed in class and in the textbook. How is advertising incorporated into modern programming? What do you believe makes an ad effective? What are some of the more successful advertising strategies? Do you think TV commercials are influential on you? Have you ever bought a product simply based on its ad campaign? Do you think that ads are becoming too intrusive in television and in our modern media as a whole? What do you think is the best and worst TV commercial currently running?
1. Situation comedies underwent a dramatic revolution in the 1970s. How did programs like MASH, All in the Family, Good Times, Maude, & Mary Tyler Moore differ from the sitcoms of the previous decade? What types of issues were discussed on these programs and how were women/minorities represented in this era? Which sitcom of this era do you believe had the greatest impact and why? Finally, how would you compare the state of the today’s sitcoms with those produced in the 1970s?
2. What TV program or TV event has had the greatest impact upon you and why? Please explain your own “relationship” with TV. Are you an active viewer – do you seek out thought-provoking programming or do you see TV as merely a form of entertainment? Has the quality of TV programming improved with the rise of so many channels in recent years? What do you think is the most important thing you have learned about TV this semester? Has this course altered any previous notions you may have had about television?
3. The 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy remains a landmark of American television. What were the elements that made this program so important – both in front of and behind the camera? What is your view of the depiction of Lucy Ricardo? Do you agree or disagree (and why) that she is a feminist icon? What are some of the elements that this program had that helped it establish the sitcom as one of the most dominant TV genres? What is your opinion on the state of the sitcom today? Do you think there is a current sitcom that will (like Lucy) still be viewed decades into the future?
4. The representation of Blacks, ethnics, and other minorities has changed dramatically on TV over the last 50 years. Please briefly discuss 3-4 moments that you believe were significant is TV’s move away from broad ethnic or racial stereotypes. How would you rate TV today in its depictions of these groups? For example, do you think a program like Jersey Shore is demeaning to Italians? What group do you believe still faces mostly stereotypical or negative depictions on TV today?
5. We viewed a portion of a documentary on the world of “Reality TV.” What were the main messages of the program? How “real” is reality TV and what do the networks do to manipulate what we are viewing? What do you believe is the reason for the popularity of these types of shows? What do they reveal about our current culture? Where do you see this genre going in the next several years? What are your picks for the best and worst of reality TV today?
6. The representation of violence has evolved greatly over the last several decades. According to our textbook, what are some of the hallmarks of violence as depicted on TV? Has programming on the networks and cable become too gory? Is the violence we see now mostly for shock value? What is your pick for the top 1 or 2 most violent programs of recent years? Where do you see the depiction of TV violence heading in the next few years?
7. The representation of sexuality on TV has evolved over the years. According to our textbook, what are some of the most significant moments in the depiction of sex on the small screen? Has TV’s presentation of sexuality gone too far? Have you ever been uncomfortable with any of the sex scenes on television today? How has the depiction of homosexuality changed on TV since the 1970s? What recent programs do you consider as pushing the envelope in terms of TV sex?
8. According to our textbook, TV has had a profound impact on both affecting and reflecting our national culture in terms of fashion, styles, and trends. Please discuss the most significant ways in which TV influences you – both in terms of fashion and cultural attitudes. What was the significance of “the Farrah” and does it have any equivalent to a trend in recent years?
9. What was the significance of the Quiz Show scandal on 1950s America? What do you think made the revelation of cheating on these programs so devastating to the public? Why do you think game shows have been so popular for decades in the USA? What does this say about the larger culture? Does this reveal Americans to be overly materialistic? Do you think something like the 1950s scandal could happen today and, if so, what would be the impact?
10. We have covered a wide variety of programs, personalities, and themes in relation to television this semester. Is there something that was, in your view, overlooked? If you could add one lecture topic (such as a specific program, genre, iconic figure) to the class what would it be? Briefly outline such a lecture where you argue for the topics inclusion into the semester.
11. Even in our Internet-dominated era, the majority of Americans still get most of their news from television. What was the cultural significance of Edward R. Murrow as a broadcaster on both radio and TV? In the 1950s, he was acclaimed for his broadcasts exposing Sen. McCarthy’s “Red Scare” tactics. Please briefly explain why this was such a profound moment in both television and American history. How did Walter Cronkite’s famed 1968 commentary have on the state of the Vietnam War resonate with the public? Where do you get your news/current events information? Is there a TV news outlet you trust? How would you rate the state of current broadcast journalism? Is it living up to the standards set by Murrow and Cronkite?
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