What is culture? What makes film / cinema ‘cultural’ ? In the first part of this essay i am going to be exploring what culture is. How differnet people define it, and why. From this investigation i will conclude as to what i believe culture to be. In the second part i will specifiacally be looking at what relationship culture has to film and why film can said to be cultural.
Depending on where you are in the world culture can mean a variety of different things. However culture is the ordinary life, therfore making it all around us, But it just means different things in different places. The culturalaptmosphere in Paris can be said to be very different of that in back streets of London. Paris is culturally know to be a city of romance, it has a great cultural histoy, the city being filled with monuments and museums. London’s back streets however are condradictory to this, there culture thrives on darkness, lonliness and servival. The concept of ‘every man for himself’ could be applied to this cultural space. A culture can be seen to be made up by many things such as traditions and activities.
Further more culture can be divided into defining sections, such as gender, race, class. Cultures can change and be influenced by many different factors, such as political movement and technology. As recognised by authors of ‘introducing cultural studies’ everyone has their own individual culture personal to them, but thy may also share a culture with the people who live on their street or in their city. From the vast nature of the word, three essential definitions have been coined.
Raymond Williams one of the primary founders of ‘cultural studies’ was the man who catagorised the term ‘culture’ into three main sections: firstly, culture in reference to ‘arts and artistic activity’. Someone can be said to ‘be cultured’ this is refering to this first distinct sense of the word culture. If you are artistically active, or aware of artisic activity. This can include developments in many areas including literature, theater and music. Secondly Williams recognises the value of symbols and how they make up constructs of a society.
Symbols according to Williams show “A particualar way of life, whether of people, a period or a group, or humanity in general” For example a pirates flag could be said to be understood by the majority of the developed world, the flag reflects to the worlds society the cultural fear associated with piartaes, in this sense a pirates falg could b catagorised as symbol understood by the whole of the world. Contrasting to this two friends could have a symbol they sign at the end of every letter to each other meaning they miss each other, this symbols is exclusive to the culture they share between the two of them.
This concept has now been taken to the extreme. The everyday has been ‘culturalised. ‘ People are now becoming brands and labels associated with certain cultures, showing therefore that even economics is influenced by culture. Thirdly Williams noted how culture can be labelled as process and development. The use of the word in this sense primarily highlights how the word culture can be used to ‘describe the develpment of the individual’s capacities. ‘ Culture however changes over time, in the last century the symbol of the cross would have been ideal to represent many different cities and what is centeral to their culture.
However today the cross could even be taken to represent what certain cultures stand against. The macdonalds sign has been said to be more worldlyrecognised than the cross! It is the same for the firsy defantion of culture activities that could have been done to show what a culture stands for now are not even heard off. This is mainly due to the development in such areas as technology. Society has become all consuming, ‘i consume therefore i am’ culture therefore centres around peoples consumption and need to be fulfilled and for it to happen now!
Culture affects many different areas of our life and similarly what we do in our lifes influences the culture around us, Douglas Kellner notes how ‘ Radio, television, film and other products of media culture provide materials out of which we forge our very identitied, our sense of selfhood; our notions of what it means to be male or female; our sense of class, of ethnicity and race, or nationality, of sexuality, of “us ” and “them”‘. An example of how culture movement of the time affected the audiences response to the film can be found in trainspotting!