Call#: Annenberg Library Reserve P94.65.U6 J46 2006
In chapter six, Jenkins discusses the role of popular culture in emerging political communities. Jenkins (as is the case throughout Convergence Culture) is focused on how old and new media interact and the dynamics of collaboration and participation. While Jenkins recognizes the scoff-factor when implying the concept of “photoshop for democracy” (user-generated images that often map themes from popular culture onto the political campaign) is any sort of substitute for real political activism, he insists that this kind of user-generated content and mass dispersion is a serious act of citizenry. In fact, using popular culture as a means of engaging voters might just be the most effective way of re-establishing interest in politics as a part of our everyday lives. Jenkins focuses on the 2004 election and recognizes that the next step is to think of “democratic citizenship as a lifestyle.” Furthermore, online political communities seem to be segregating voters, as opposed to encouraging dialogue across ideologies. Although he seems to offer popular culture as a kind of national balm for the ailments of political fragmentation, Jenkins recognizes the inherent limits of its role in (or applicability as a model for) contemporary political communities.
For me, the most useful parts of this argument is the attention he pays to the increasing participation of average Americans (now as monitorial citizens as opposed to informed citizens) in the media landscape and the possibilities for the integration of politics and popular culture. However, he doesn’t seem to offer any real solution for the acutely polarized political landscape.