Essay: Cultural Criticism & Transformation


There is a various psychological aspect that face our society and our culture every day with the doom of extinction slowly creeping. The media largely perpetuates cultural stereotypes from gender, race, class, sexuality and limits the range of free will or course of actions through prescribing sanctioned ways of behaving in relations to our loved ones and describing the penalties for non-conformity. Cultural critique is important for customs, conventions and forbidden rules as they are ever changing this can be done mostly through the media. The critique should have the honest reflection of content and message to the society without the bias of spreading prejudice that may serve disadvantage to any member of society regardless of gender, race, merit, age. It should be excellent content for the audience. The media in a big way influence the sharpening and driving shaft of our cultural or social norms. The media role should be that of transforming and enhancing positive change for any ideal society with a cohesive culture and respectable social norms without discrimination or preferences to any particular party within the community.

Media and culture change

Culture comprises a set of traditions, beliefs and practices in which the aggregate social categories and concepts are embraced. Every human identifies with a certain culture in a given manner or the other and is hence is deemed as the basic value that taps human needs directly.  Over the course of history, numerous factors have been outlined as adversely affecting a culture and hence affect lives, opinions, and individual beliefs. However, a pervasive influence of culture witnessed in the modern society is as a result of mass media through print television and the internet which reaches a wide a wide variety of audience.

When Bell Hooks looked critically at the societal perception of systems for the poor, he composed a book referred to as Cultural Criticism & Transformation in which he found value systems emphasizing on sharing of resources (Hooks, Bell, and Sut 14). That same value system has become eroded by ethnic liberal individualism affirming that it is morally right not to share. Media has played the key role in bringing to our society the logic of liberal individualism in which it advocates for privatized resource hoarding and not sharing. In most scenarios, the liberal individualism has worked among the wealthy in society but made worse the case for the poor as they earlier depended on communism for affirmation and general support. Therefore, in order to change the devastating and biting effects of poverty in the society, it is imperative to change the distribution of resources as well as representation for the poor.

Taking a deep consideration of the influence of media on culture, several sociological interests are of concern. An exposure to such factors starts at a basic level with children reading the fairy tales in movies and stories. For instance, the Disney films alongside other children literature works have a serious impact on both children and adolescent opinions (Jenkins & Henry 206). For example, some of these tales portray street urchins as having a more exciting life owing to the challenges they overcome. When children begin exposure on such ideals at a tender age, they begin to envy and imitate their favorite characters.

Bell Hooks makes an argument that complicates culture representations in most cases regarding the poor while also enacting social and political changes. Indeed, cultural critics in rare cases talk about the poor in the society but rather use phrases such as economically disenfranchised persons (Hooks, Bell, and Sut Jhally 19). Different television programs and films convey the message that one is better integrated into the contemporary society if they exemplify liberal individualism characters.

Research is attributed to being responsible for influencing a big part of our daily life. Media contributes to transformations of cultural and social values as well as beliefs and attitudes of people. The media is persuasive in nature and hence influences thoughts and behaviors of the general public by molding their ideas and attitudes an ingredient of lifestyle and culture. By undergoing a major transformation people are subjected to a platform in which they can contribute to change world scenarios. With the internet, there is an advent of blogging, public polls, and citizen journalism which have led to the attainment of social control. Such concepts have enhanced the relation between media and development of public opinion for social matters.

Cracking the codes

The subjects and behavioral conduct characterizing all forms of expression are designed in contradiction to established norms as well as standards of rightness within a society with reinforcement from institutional, economic powers. The cracking the code film has a systematic approach that outlines how good intentions can be complicit to others’ intentions. This can be seen in the racialization and building of networks for relationships that are considered whenever building societies which are bound to provide equitable and sustainable means of accessing community resources for its members. There is no hierarchy of oppressive acts, but rather they are terrible, cause destruction and wastes human capital. Examples of oppression include ethnicity, racism, and homophobia and it is crucial to understand that they are not static but rather continue to intersect into complex layers in which many people fear to confront.

While working for human welfare non-governmental organization, I encountered an African society that believes a woman is the property of their fathers and husbands. In this society, is deemed an abomination for women to wear an attire of choice or freely move without the consent of a man. Moreover, it the fathers who decide who their daughters will marry and wives literally ‘worship’ their husbands. To me, this seems like the worst oppression women encounter despite having accepted it as a cultural norm and further their religion requiring them to remain submissive lest they become an outcast. The most outstanding contribution to this society was sensitization and facilitating better education that has helped in enlightening them to recognize their rights and knowledge of legal procedures.

In the film cracking the codes, the filmmaker Shakti Butler uses the film and dialogue by making invitations to people in order to grapple with the complexity of intellectual as well as emotional consideration for social justice(“Cracking codes: the Rosetta Stone and Decipherment.”).  Addressing such issues require warm and compassionate persons which Butler uses in listening keenly and asking fundamental questions that support self-directed learning in other people. The speaking and teaching styles are enriching factors for expanding the capability to build a community and most importantly to effect societal change. To achieve this, it is paramount to employ strategies such as group dialogue, self-inquiry, reflection and whole body learning.

In the film, there are emotional testimonies from leaders in consideration to justice matters and thus culminating to combined personal accounts, diversity in voices and creativity in exposing the rather grounded assumptions which underpin a society’s beliefs and behaviors. Through sharing and contemplating of the diverse stories the justice educator, Shakti Butler advocates for measures that will bring both individual and systematic change (“P-SPAN #326: Cracking the Codes — The System of Racial Inequity.”). The cracking the codes film has been classified as dignified and having evidenced responses in the assertion that this post-racial era. Indeed, many Americans and in other cities in the world, viewers always say they became transformed after watching it. It is paramount for both internal and external systems of every organization to churn out all aspects of oppression and hence envisioning and embracing a future that moves towards equity.


Racism is the prejudice of a particular race or an organization that it is more superior to other. Racism emanates hatred and enmity among different races as one tend to have superiority ego against the other while the other feels dishonored and disrespect by such trading. The trading of racism are recipes of war and massacre when one race group feels feed up by accusations of belittling by the other. The aim of war here is to outdo the other by wiping out an entire generation or protecting interest and dignity of the other. Racism breeds enmity and prejudice of a bloated ego among races thus creating disturbances and lack of cohesive relationship among the two races. This development of racism gives discrimination a chance to thrive and underdevelopment to emerge in such area.

With racism creates an inferiority complex among individuals in a group of a particular race. The individuals in such groups experience harassment and abuses that are inhumane. The experience of such acts can only mean individual feels ashamed and lack of confident to express views or opinion that might assist the group or the organization. Individuals also tend to feel out of place and uncomfortable during the sessions that are expression through quietness or unresponsive during the discussion. Accordingly racism creates a limited interaction with members of other races trade activity cannot thrive as in the market as a particular race only trades with one of its’ own regardless of the prices offered (Boskin, Joseph, and Catherine 59). It implies limited supply of available goods for trade among the race. This syndrome effect spirals even to professionalism where an individual from a particular race cannot hire or support someone because he/she is of a different race. e.g. an individual lacks to hire a sleazy lawyer because he is of mixed race and has to an expensive one because he/she is from his/her race or one does not support a particular sport because his race does not play that game. Racism only supports division of the human race.

It brings out thoughts of perception despite those around you not aware of such feeling or thoughts in their mind. It brings in a culture of mistrust among a multi-racial group and spending quality time trying to justify one’s idea why he/she is. It is detrimental for one development and creates a diversion from the main agenda. Frustrations are expressed through fights and aggressive and abusive languages to others.

Individuals who have faced racism in the past tend to aggressive or fear in them when engaging with a different race. Only results in a harsh working environment and condition. A reaction of the past may also resonate during conversation or working hours depending on the mood swing of the individuals. The altitude one is reached out by the other is everything to ensure cohesive engagement among such individuals. Racism is all about relating and treatment one offers the other giving we live in global village unlike in the past when a human being of a particular race referred others as animals .racism should be averted at all cost as it splits human being into groups.


Meritocracy is deemed to be governance by elites deserving to wield power owing to their possession of merit instead of the people belonging to privileged classes in the society.   Any value is necessarily bias in regards to the culture that it is a part. People can decision based on the profit or earning they make, the opportunities they create or have, their status, their influence or the position they hold. Meritocracy can be deceiving as it is not a guarantee of having the best leader or position holder as it is based on particular personal privilege or people perception to the rulers without considering flaws or weakness. Meritocracy aims to suggest that each person is responsible for their failure or it’s an inherent inferiority issue. This situational gives a devastating outlook that can even cause emotional discomfort to the too weak to the extent of committing suicide. The society looks down on the common class of person without providing them with a chance to prove themselves.

The tenets of meritocracy system only provide assures to those in an authority of a big and better chance as upward mobility in future only with decent performance (Khan, Shamus, & Colin 34).The perception is that better standard of living is there with promotion  or having a merit over the opponent. I understood their commitment to put extra efforts in their work and hence guaranteeing many earnings. Consequently, the students showed a lot of commitment towards social justice including a narration of how much they had attained. There were a number of  lessons accruing from their accounts including injustices, current opportunities, necessity for work, and discipline. ‘The world is a meritocracy’ meaning that some people are perceived to be better than others, and these skills are fundamental. As a result, these inequalities are increasingly acquired by the actions of individuals and decreasingly ascribed by belonging to a class, race, or gender. The narrative accounts of person can be in a category as meritocracy (Longoria & Richard 98).

Meritocracy system only encourages competition among those with particular status or influences without considering other things that may make competition open for all. Thus, the system supports discrimination and classification of the society into various cadres. This contest is open any form of doing as long as you are the finalist you have a merit. e.g. fraud means are used to acquire wealth regardless of the society perception with end justifying meaning. The worldview for meritocracy is that; it’s if the status hierarchy is based on merit, the logical inference is that those who have higher status must also be more talented, valuable, hardworking, or in other ways more meritorious than those who have lower status. It leads to the belief of lower status people justifying rather than raising the issue of discrimination unlike women in past who were in the category of as weaker gender.

Meritocracy success has been as a result of active individuals in the society campaign for it and having the belief it’s the better system of classifying the organization regardless of different personal attributes playing the part. The discrimination has widened to the subjects beyond meritocracy but as long as you particular aspect you possess the advantage. This bred a culture of lack of order and intolerance among the individuals in the society bring about social class of nepotism and racism.


The issues above have stood out in the history of mankind but off late the have being on increase. The media as form of communication shouldn’t sell this particular content instead should foster for unity against such vices. For the sake of generation ahead the media should be at least be objective on common vices that threaten to create human beings divide. This is the world that everyone is bound to thrive peacefully but only after we engage in challenging ourselves individually and collectively as a society.


Work cited

Boskin, Joseph, and Catherine Silk. “Racism and Anti-Racism in American Popular Culture: Portrayals of African-Americans in Fiction and Film.” The Journal of American History79.1 (1992): 287.

“Cracking codes: the Rosetta Stone and Decipherment.” Choice Reviews Online 37.07 (2000): 37-4037-37-4037.

Hooks, Bell, and Sut Jhally. Bell Hooks: Cultural Criticism & Transformation. Northampton N.p., 1997.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York UP, 2006.

Khan, Shamus, and Colin Jerolmack. “Saying Meritocracy and Doing Privilege.” The Sociological Quarterly 54.1 (2012): 9-19.

Longoria, Richard T. Meritocracy and Americans’ Views on Distributive Justice. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2009.

“P-SPAN #326: Cracking the Codes — The System of Racial Inequity.” YouTube. N.p., 10 Web. 10 Nov. 2015.