Does culture influence people?

Justin_Anstey

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#1
I saw a TV programme called 'Public Enemy No 1' on Channel 4 last night, (Tue. 21/8/01) at 10pm. It was primarily about an incident in a town in Italy where three girls brutally murdered an elderly nun. Much of the programme, however, focussed on the idea that rock star Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson had influenced them to do it. As I recall, the woman prosecuting the case was particularly convinced of it.

(To believe that someone can influence the actions of others through things that they make sounds like forteana to me)

Have there actually been any studies to determine exactly how much culture can influence a person's beliefs, thought processes and subsequent decisions and actions? There still seems to be no clear consensus on this, and all opinions seem to be based on pure conjecture. The same accusations came up with the Columbine shootings even though, apparently, it eventually emerged that the perpetrators weren't even fans of the band.

Warner himself appears to be of the opinion that he has neither caused nor influenced anything and merely reflects in his work what he sees in his audience e.g. boredom, frustration etc. Or is it that his stuff is designed to appeal as much to a particular audience as it is to offend certain other groups of people? He doesn't seem to have much of an agenda beyond that. One thing that cannot be said about his music is that it is full of anti-violence messages.

I personally think, (pure conjecture, of course,) there might be a kind of mutual perpetuation involved, that life influences art, then art influences life, and so on. What's the point of culture if it doesn't affect people?

But it seems to me that another question should be asked too. Why are certain people drawn to particular kinds of culture in the first place?

-Justin.
:confused:
 

lucydru

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#2
Justin, I saw the programme. I have a thread about M. Manson on fortean culture.

lucydru
 

JamesWhitehead

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#3
Well Satanic Rock is a bit wet compared to plays
like Titus Andronicus.

Neither is exactly healthy but censorship is always a fear
of the lower orders.

The larger effects of an evil culture could be explored I suppose
by a close examination of the minds of public schoolboys
brought up on the ethics of Sparta. :D
 
A

Anonymous

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#4
I Blame The Parents

"If you don't raise your kids, I will.' - Mansen. This quote succinctly summarises the real problem better than I ever could.

And a couple from Eminem, just for good measure...

"Don't blame me if little Eric jumps off of the terrace - you should've been watching him, apparently you ain't parents..."

"Last week I seen this Schwarzennegar movie where he's shooting all sorts at these motherf*ckers with an Uzi; I seen these three little kids up in the front row, screaming 'Go!' with their 17 year old uncle; I'm like, guidance? Ain't they got the same mums and dads who got mad when they were asked if they liked violence?'

It's a bit sad where a guy who sings about the Devil and a spooky little rapper talk more sense that these so-called authority figures who pop on regularly TV with their groundless arguments and meritless theories.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#6
Re. "If you don't raise your kids, I will"

I am not a parent, but if I did raise sprogs in
this culture, would I be Good or Evil to keep them as far
away from it as possible?
 
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Anonymous

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#7
They wanted to drag The Beatles before the courts over the Charles Manson murders, because he scrawled lyrics from two of the "White Album" songs on the walls - using the blood of the victims. :eek:

Now you could argue that this means that the Beatles are responsible for the killings - but this is pretty obviously nonsense - you can listen to Marylin Manson for hours without wanting to kill anyone (other than himself :D ). Music doesn't make people kill, the forces at work there are a lot more complicaed than this.

It's just a method of finding an easy culprit without having to look at the larger issues - what are we doing to our children?
 

Breakfastologist

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#8
I'm guessing you are talking about culture as in "the arts" rather than from a more sociological perspective, where it seems to pretty much completely influence everyone.

I think that what musicians do, be it Marylin Manson, Nirvana, the Beasties, The Sex Pistols or whoever, is open a pathway to expression for confused young people. They have all this anger at a world that they don't quite fit into and they are not sure what the cause of the anger is or what they are angry at. Then the music turns up and offers them a pathway, something someone else is angry at so they can join in without having to stand out from the crown and thus risk instant alienation.

It comes down to a way of channeling adolescent angst and adolescents will find one somewhere. And later they will grow out of it.
 
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Anonymous

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#9
:)

Absolutely.

Look at the lyrics to the S Club 7 song Bring it all Back

Dream of falling in Love,
Anything you've been thinking of,
When the world seems to get to tough,
Bring it all back to you.

It is obvious why these lyrics forced me to kill seven prostitutes and make curtain ropes out of their entrails.


CHARLEY
 
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Anonymous

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#11
Since we're giving pop quotes...:

"If you wanna be my lover
you gotta get with my friends"

seems like free love to me. And like the rest of the spice Girls songs it's about sex. And they wonder why we have all these teenage mums?
 

Breakfastologist

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#12
Of course, no-one mentioned in the above three posts has any kind of alternative culture significance except as slaves to The Man and consequently being the enemy. I was talking more about "cult" musicians, the ones that become central to a scene (currently people such as Manson, along with Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Staind and the rest are pretty much where its at as far as The Kids are concerned) and a scene like that gives young people something to belong to, a simple route to peer acceptance at an age where that is what they are most interested in. Well, that and sex, but the second of those doesn't really change as they get older...
 
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Anonymous

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#13
"If you wanna be my lover
you gotta get with my friends"

Now call me old fashioned, but surely the thing most likely to *NOT* make you be a bird's lover is "getting with her friends."

Trust me on this one....


CHARLEY
 
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Anonymous

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#14
Trust me, that is a very bad thing... when she says that she wants you to like her friends, she doesn't mean quite that much..
Yeah, sure it influences everyone....
And that music thingy, it isn't that the music actually causes violence, but it teaches young kids that it is socially acceptable, overriding the superego (conscience thingy) (?) ...
And if you take away or damage the superego then you become pretty much phsycopathic.....
Hence the slaying
 

Aben_Zin

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#15
I'd say it overrides the Ego rather than the Superego, 'cos it does it subconciously.

I reckon part of the trouble is that there really isn't much to rebel from these days. Culture is so much less repressive that kids rebelious nature has to find new ways out. For instance, the Who came from a time when teenage rebellion was almost unheard of, and so a song like My Generation could easily draw the line between "Them" (ie. older people) and "Us" (My generation...). These days the boundery is less distinct, and kids have to go to far to redifine it.

Anyway, I reckon Manson tries to hard...

Az
 
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Anonymous

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#16
The best spoof on Mr Manson being, naturally, in The Onion with the headline "Marylin Manson goes door-to-door trying to shock people".

Priceless.


Anyway, yes, I would agree that sinle "items" of culture (such as Eminem, the Spice Girls, Mr Schwarzenneger) in themselves have very little power to convince one person to do strange things to another with a bread knife and some toothpaste.

However, when your whole society in filled (and I mean the sort of super media saturation that we get these days) with the same images over and over and over again, it can't help but have a knock on effect. No man is an island, and naturally some of our ideas about what it considered acceptable is picked up from society's cues.

Particularly scary I thought was a documentary on women's eating disorders. During it, a fashion magazine editor said that two of her models (aged eighteen and fifteen, I think) were looking through some magazines from the early nineties, and had to ask her how she could get away with using such fat models back then. Hands up all those who remember models from the early nineties. Hands up all those who remember any fat models EVER?

Media images do change what people think of as "normal" or "acceptable". But it doesn't happen overnight. And it doesn't happen because someone happens to listen to a record a couple of time. But if that's is all that they listen to....if that is the only place that they are receiving ideas from....
 
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Anonymous

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#18
Jonny B said:
But if that's is all that they listen to....if that is the only place that they are receiving ideas from....

Swinging the discussion onto a more overtly Fortean tract, I wonder whether Forteana itself - encompassing as it does the entire occult/alternative fringe - might not be regarded as the single most 'dangerous' cultural entity of the modern day? Consider the number of persons who have gone off the deep end into paranoia or suicide as a result of or related to their preoccupation with Fortean interests, and....

..phew, sorry, had to pause there while the Black Helicopter swooped down the street..again.

:madeyes: :spinning
 
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Anonymous

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#19
All depends whay you mean by culture

Well of course by some definitions of "culture" it must influence people - look at what different cultures define as "food" for example.:eek:

There's a long tradition of trying to blame "cultural figures" (for want of a better term) for particular incidents or pervceived trends. I think it says more about the blamers than the blamees myself. It's a lot more comfortable to say "It's all Marilyn Manson's fault" than to say "Gosh, maybe there's a reason why some young people are disaffected, maybe we should do something about it?"

Was Jack the Ripper influenced by too much Gilbert & Sullivan? :madeyes:
 

caroleaswas

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#20
Aben Zin said:
I'd say it overrides the Ego rather than the Superego, 'cos it does it subconciously.

I reckon part of the trouble is that there really isn't much to rebel from these days. Culture is so much less repressive that kids rebelious nature has to find new ways out. For instance, the Who came from a time when teenage rebellion was almost unheard of, and so a song like My Generation could easily draw the line between "Them" (ie. older people) and "Us" (My generation...). These days the boundery is less distinct, and kids have to go to far to redifine it.

Anyway, I reckon Manson tries to hard...

Az
I agree! I entered my teens during the Beatles phenomenon and they were considered REAL rebels (I mean, all that long hair and those NORTHERN accents!!) Now that my sons are just about to enter their teens, I could give myself nightmares if I stop to think about what they might find to rebel against. It's just gone on and on in a downward spiral. Some of the videos today (yes, guys, even the ones with KYLIE!) would have been considered well-nigh pornographic back in the 60s/early 70s. It seems to me there are shades of the Fall of the Roman Empire here . . . all this decadence (shakes head sorrowfully) . . .

Now there's nothing wrong with a bit of good, healthy lust, but judging from the message given out by some of the artistes, you shouldn't enjoy it, you just have to DO it - that's the impression I get, anyway.
 
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Anonymous

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#21
carole said:
Some of the videos today (yes, guys, even the ones with KYLIE!) would have been considered well-nigh pornographic back in the 60s/early 70s.
Really? Because I've been watching repeats of things like Star Trek, and Space 1999, and some of the costumes therein certainly rival what Kylie's wearing in her new vid. I think it's one of those things where we always look upon the past with rose-tinted glasses. Certainly as far back as the 60's revealing your body was acceptable, certainly as far as counter-culture goes. Even Cilla Black wore a mini-skirt.

As for research into Media effects, it's been a year or two, so it might take me a while to dig up the reports (or I may not even have them any more), but all the evidence I've seen says that there are short-term effects from media influences (i.e. I can't watch Dragon: The Story Of Bruce Lee without jumping around the room screaming "oooohh aaaaaaahya!" and punching sofas for a while), but these wear off.

As for the long-term effects, the evidence seems to say "no". There are studies where violent offenders, for example, have more violent videos in their collections than a similar group of non-violent offenders, but there studies are majorly flawed. Firstly a "violent offender" isn't necessarily a more violent person than another, they have merely been convicted of one violent crime. The second problem comes as what do you count as violent? Eraserhead isn't particularly violent, Tarzan And His Mate is, but I know which I'd rather let my (non-existent) kids watch. The third problem is that these studies assume that if they do find more violent vids (or music or whatever) in someone's collection that it's the media that's causing them to be attracted to violence, rather than that it could be their violent personality that attracts them to seek out violent media products. All in all, not very good studies, as it's impossible to effectively follow and measure all the variables, especially over a group large enough to give any meaning to any findings.

As for the scapegoat thing, this is very true. It is so much easier to blame an outside influence than to look for the root causes of tradgedies such as Columbine, say. There are still people out there that believe that Child's Play 3 had something to do with Jamie Bulger's death, even though the policeman in charge of the case at the time said that the children involved had never seen it. We'd rather blame a film about a talking, walking posessed doll than believe that two young children were capable of torturing and killing a much younger child, because if we admit that they did it with full knowledge of their actions, then what does that say about our society and the nature of humans in general? Not that I think that the film would be suitable for such young children, but then neither do I think that it could be responsible for such atrocities. If a film does cause someone to snap, my thoughts are that they weren't that far from snapping in the first place, and their morning bowl of cereal could be just as likely to make them snap.

To add to the trivial quotes "Movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative" - Billy Loomis, Scream.
 

caroleaswas

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#22
trollface said:
Really? Because I've been watching repeats of things like Star Trek, and Space 1999, and some of the costumes therein certainly rival what Kylie's wearing in her new vid. I think it's one of those things where we always look upon the past with rose-tinted glasses. Certainly as far back as the 60's revealing your body was acceptable, certainly as far as counter-culture goes. Even Cilla Black wore a mini-skirt.
Sure, the 60s minis revealed a lot, and girls wore clingy clothes, but many of today's female rock stars wear little more than bikinis (God, I sound like my own mother!:( ) which do reveal more than yer average 60s mini (and I should know, cos I actually wore one!)

I don't particularly look back to that time with rose-tinted spectacles, but can only speak from my own experience. Everything was a lot more staid and less in-yer-face than it is today. Remember, it was more or less the first time that people younger than 21 were acknowledged as people in their own right with their own opinions, but I think young people, although they professed to rebel, were still 'feeling their way'.

Yes, it was more staid then. For example, pregnancy outside marriage then was considered THE SHAME TO END ALL SHAMES, now it's the norm.

Carole
(who is MANY YEARS away from collecting her bus pass, despite the above)
 

NilesCalder

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#23
Hermes said:
Swinging the discussion onto a more overtly Fortean tract, I wonder whether Forteana itself - encompassing as it does the entire occult/alternative fringe - might not be regarded as the single most 'dangerous' cultural entity of the modern day?
Possibly. We tend to think "outside the box" and thus look at things from a variety of different perspectives. We also ask too many d+mn questions and the wrong sort of questions at that. We're never satisfied with pat answers and solutions; we want hard evidence and coherent replies. We're the informed wolves in a world media of sheep.

We are the Few, the Proud, the Fortean.

Niles

can i get off this soap box now? it's awfully high!
 
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Anonymous

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#25
I think the Fortean stance is one of impartiality, full stop.

Like those totems the yogis sit on for 20 years, a hardened Fortean develops such a rigid shell of confusion and/or cynicism over the years that he/she is no longer tempted to come down from their position of 'impartiality' to examine the latest offering of that old imposter, 'proof'. No sirree!
 
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Anonymous

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#26
Jonny B said:
very little power to convince one person to do strange things to another with a bread knife and some toothpaste.
I retrospect, I would be quite interested to know what I had been drinking the night that I came up with that little phrase.

Answers on a postcard, please....
 

FelixAntonius

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#27
I get that feeling once in a while Jonny B.

But even worse is spring time when I find all my carefully stored cans of varnish & paint thiners empty & then I KNOW!!!!!!:D
 

intaglioreally

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#28
carole said:
... (God, I sound like my own mother!:( )
Your are going to sound like your own mother. You know what worked for you and what would have destroyed you - then. Just as your mother knew what would have destroyed her life. Your kids (?) arn't going to find that out until they have children. Protect them, rescue them if neccessary.

Culture has an effect - it sure had an effect on us! but we reasoned out, eventually, what was right for us. We didn't become Satanists because of J Arthur Brown or do drugs because of the Stones or Yellow Submarine. Your mother didn't become an opium addict because of Minnie the Moocher. Her father didn't become a streetwise tramp like Chaplin.

The plaint of every parent, since time began probably, is that the kids show no respect, their friends are sullen and violent. But look at the counter case.

Your daughter becomes extremely respectful but always wears a scarf covering her hair. She goes to church regularly, starts reading books about missionaries and farming in the Brazilian rainforest. You find tracts by the pastor of a small christian group. I think you'd need to be more worried about that
 

escargot

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#29
Kids need a strong influence (usually it's parents) in their lives from an early age to make them feel safe. Later on, they need to challenge this same strong influence to help them develop as people. I accepted this with my several sprogs, hurtful though it could be, and they were respectful to me. Grosser tantrums were greeeted with a camp 'Oooh! Teenage REBEL!' which usually made them laugh.

All my youngest girl's mates (she's 15) are into the bands mentioned above such as Manson, Staind etc. Their parents worry. My attitude is that music is a commodity like fashion and movies. When they've bought into it for a while they'll get bored and buy elsewhere, i.e. grow out of it!

Anyway, Marilyn is really Alice Cooper. Boy, did HE upset my parents! I had to smuggle in his albums under cover of darkness!
 
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