The greatest country in the world? : how American Exceptionalism is reinforced in popular media

Mcdonald, Thomas (2016) The greatest country in the world? : how American Exceptionalism is reinforced in popular media. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    For over a century, the United States of America has used its domination of global media to underscore its sense of superiority over other nations. The US is the focus of sociological and humanitarian studies partially because of its self mythology of exceptionality.
    This dissertation aims to investigate how ideals of American exceptionalism are represented and reinforced in different media. Using a range of academic sources, this study begins with a brief exploration of exceptionalism per se. I then proceed to deconstruct aspects of popular culture which coalesce to reinforce the overall ideology of American exceptionalism.
    Chapter One looks at how myths of exceptionalism are represented in American films, via Hollywood’s hegemonic domination of the industry. This chapter examines the United States’ perceived need to dominate global screen industries as a means of asserting its political superiority over other nations.
    Chapter Two explores American popular music, demonstrating how even musics of the disenfranchised (country, blues, and soul) support exceptionalist mythologies. This chapter also examines how Hip-Hop, a descendent of blues, has developed to endorse exceptionalist myths of capitalism and wealth whilst targeting the same oppressed audiences as its musical ancestor.
    My final chapter on sport offers further perspectives on American triumphalism. This chapter investigates how some sports substitute America for the world within their designated championships (baseball’s World Series and American football’s Super Bowl). At the same time, America’s large rejection of soccer is seen to demonstrate America’s exceptional desire to protect its indigenous sports.
    This paper concludes that the media contribute to a pre-existing dominant ideology of American Exceptionalism. I suggest that everyday popular culture plays a key role in celebrating America’s view of its own specialness and attendant meritocratic mythologies (the ‘American Dream’). American popular culture is seen to exert hegemonic effect on global media culture, to the extent that American Exceptionalism is taken for granted.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 14:52
    Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 14:52

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