Monday, April 18, 2011

That's so ghetto!

As a commodity, the Jersey Shore is controversial because it is seen as promoting a kind of ethnic "ghetto culture." Within US society, ghetto culture stands in contradistinction to professionalization. Professionalization is a form of socialization in which power and privilege are received in exchange for conforming to the established norms of a professional authority. Historically, such possibilities have been closed off to certain groups, like African-Americans, because of racism. The "ghetto" concept has since referred to any enforced alienation from mainstream society; it is now commonly embraced within popular culture as a rejection of society's official terms, ostensibly in response. Hence, ghetto culture.

Ghetto culture's popularity has predictably led, within a capitalist context, to the commercialization and industrial reproduction of its various forms, for the enrichment of the same professional trade groups it claims to oppose. A lot has been said about this, and I'm not going to pursue it further here, since we can expect nothing less from capitalism. The salient point is that ghetto culture, especially when reproduced on an industrial scale, regularly frustrates and undermines the hegemony of professional culture within US society, in important and not infrequently comical ways.

1 comment:

biggayslut said...

Your last paragraph seems to make two contradictory claims:

1. That capitalism has successfully commodified ghetto culture.

2. That commodified ghetto culture frustrates and undermines the hegemony of professional culture.

One seems true to me. Two doesn't I also question the idea that ghetto culture stands in deliberate opposition to professional culture, especially since its commodification has stripped it of all meaningfully dissident content.