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Candy Advertisement

Lesson: Media Awareness: Helping a Product Cross the Finish Line
Students will complete their advertisements, adding in details (such as color and symbols) and background/foreground space on the picture plane.
Popular Culture, Television

Game Advertisement

Lesson: Media Awareness: Key Concepts in Advertising
In this second of three lessons, students will continue their exploration of concepts in advertising.
Popular Culture, Television

Toy Advertisement

Lesson: Media Awareness: The Basics of Advertising
In the first of these three lessons, students will develop a general understanding of marketing and its influence.
Popular Culture, Television

Portrait of American artist Andy Warhol

Lesson: Making the Ordinary Pop
Pop art examines the distinction between "high art" and popular culture, and questions the role of the artist.
Popular Culture, Visual Arts

Roald Dahl

Arts Days: September 13, 1913: What a Dahl
It may come as no surprise to learn that one of young Roald Dahl’s schools was situated near a chocolate factory, and some lucky students got to take part in candy-bar tasting. Yes, the popular children’s writer who authored Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and dreamed up its chocolate bars wrapped in golden tickets clearly drew some of his fantastically inventive tales from his own life experiences.

Dahl also wrote plenty of books and short stories for adults, but his children’s works stand out for their dark humor, startling plot twists, and outrageous characters like greedy Augustus Gloop in Charlie and mean Miss Trunchbull in Matilda—characters who almost always get their come-uppance in the end.
Literature, Popular Culture

Lockers

Arts Days: August 20, 1989: School Daze
Intentionally aimed at a teen audience that might be outgrowing cartoons, Saved by the Bell was filled with appealing actors like Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who played Zack) and Lark Voorhies (Lisa). This pioneer teen show ran for years during prime television-watching hours for kids—Saturday morning.

While critics panned it, pre-teens loved it. The show’s producers introduced topical teen themes and moral lessons, such as how the Bayside High gang coped with bullies and learned about the dangers of drinking and driving. Executives also came up with the idea of reuniting the cast for TV specials and spin-off series like Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
Television, Popular Culture

MAD magazine

Arts Days: August 12, 1952: It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD World
Funny, the debut issue of MAD magazine—which was really a comic book back then—came out in August with a cover date of October/November. A man named Harvey Kurtzman wrote almost the entire issue himself, also providing some of the drawings. When MAD later flipped to its magazine format, that’s when its brand of irreverent humor started making fun of all aspects of our culture: movies, politicians, advertising, and celebrity itself.

It spoofed Sports Illustrated as Sports Ill-Stated. It turned Star Wars into Star Roars. It was said you knew a book, movie, or TV show was a success if MAD parodied it. The scathing wit of its illustrators and writers would later influence everybody from the Monty Python gang to today’s satirical news source, The Onion.
Comedy, Popular Culture

KISS

Arts Days: August 11, 1999: KISS and Makeup
Famous for their elaborate stage makeup and six-inch platform boots, KISS is even better known for their rock music and hits like “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Beth.” With highly theatrical stage shows featuring fireworks, “thunder and lightning,” and spurts of fake blood, KISS concerts have sold out worldwide since the 1970s.

Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and the rest of the band have sold over 80 million records, making them truly worthy of a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Popular Culture, Rock & Roll

Birthday cake

Arts Days: March 04, 1924: A Song is Born
You’ve probably sung the most popular song in the English language more times than you can count. It’s said that the melody of the tune is borrowed from a song called “Good Morning to All,” written in 1893 by Patty and Mildred Hill, sisters and kindergarten teachers from Kentucky.

All they wanted to do was create a song easy for five-year-olds to sing. They never copyrighted the song, meaning they never registered it as their work. But an editor named Robert Coleman published the song in a book, adding a second verse to the “Good Morning to All” tune that features the words we all know. And from then on, “Happy Birthday” has stuck in a big way.
Music, Popular Culture

Girl Playing with Barbies

Arts Days: March 09, 1959: All Dolled Up
As a fashion icon for generations of little girls, Barbie—all eleven-and-a-half inches of her—is without an equal. She was invented by a woman named Ruth Handler, one of the founders of the Mattel Toy Company and mother of a daughter named Barbara (no joke, that’s Barbie’s namesake). Handler was inspired by a German doll named “Bild Lili,” a spin-off of a comic strip. Early Barbies, with their accompanying tagline “teenage fashion model,” were made in Japan and available as blondes or brunettes.

Along with the dolls, Mattel marketed a breathtaking range of clothes sized just for Barbie as diverse as ball gowns to astronaut uniforms. It’s no surprise children still love to dress her up in these fancy outfits, or to find Barbie cruising along in her Jeep to a mall of her very own.
Fashion, Popular Culture

Nickelodeon studios

Arts Days: April 01, 1979: I Want My KidTV!
Originally airing only in Ohio, the first cable TV channel “just for kids” was named after old-fashioned movie theaters that showed short films all day long. “Nick” has become a worldwide phenomenon loved by kids of all ages. Whether it’s their gooey green slime or quirky characters including Sponge Bob Squarepants and Carly, Sam, and Freddie, Nickelodeon and its sister channels entertain its dedicated audience with educational programs, silly cartoons, teen shows, and classic TV series.

The Nickelodeon network brand has grown to include Nick Jr., NickToons, Nick at Night, and Noggin, plus you can enjoy the rides featuring Nick stars at theme parks in Europe, Australia, and here in the U.S. It’s Nick—all kids, all the time.
Television, Popular Culture

Hand on turntable

Video Series: DJ 101: The Basics
In this podcast series, DJ Kuttin Kandi shows students the basics of Turntablism, how to scratch records as a DJ, and the differences between Vinyl and Digital DJing.
Hip-Hop, Popular Culture

Kid audience

Article: Taking Kids to Their First Live Show
Family-friendly tips for preparing children for live performing arts events
Music Legends, Popular Culture, Music, Innovators & Pioneers

Hip-Hop: A Kennedy Center Guide

KC Connection: Hip-Hop: A Kennedy Center Guide
Whenever a generation starts to find its voice, people listen. And nothing today has gotten people’s attention like Hip-Hop. This cultural and artistic movement has emerged to express the hopes, fears, styles, and dreams of a generation.
Hip-Hop, Young Artists, Popular Culture

frog prince

Lesson: Finding Your Own Frog Prince
Students will use a traditional tale, “The Frog Prince,” and Jon Scieszka’s variation of it, The Frog Prince Continued, to create improvised scenes and then a book for a mini-musical.
Folklore, Musicals, Popular Culture

Hip-hop poet

Lesson: The Poetics of Hip-Hop
Students will analyze form in Shakespearean sonnets and hip-hop music
Hip-Hop, Poetry, Popular Culture

Apple iPod

Arts Days: October 23, 2001: Music for the iGeneration
Sleek and slim, with a clean white interface and dial that let users spin through hundreds, even thousands of songs on a whim, the iPod’s arrival heralded a huge shakeup in music—how it was played and how it was made. Not only did portable CD players suddenly seem impossibly clunky, but the tiny gadget-y iPod made it possible to also carry videos, photos, and other types of media in your pocket.

Apple's latest invention revolutionized the portable music player, and what’s more, opened the gates to a whole new music industry to meet demands for digital music downloads. Both record companies and artists had to figure out how to market music for the new digital age. Since the first iPod model debuted on this day in 2001, Apple is the leading seller of MP3 players, as well as digital music, which it sells through its iTunes store.
Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Popular Culture

John Wayne

Arts Days: October 24, 1930: The Duke Saddles Up
In The Big Trail, a 23-year-old John Wayne starred as Breck Coleman, a young man heading west on a wagon train. This early, epic Western was the type of movie in which Wayne excelled. He had the rugged good looks, gruff demeanor, and height to carry off the part of a man on a mission to avenge the death of a friend.

The movie—filmed on location all over the American West, which had relatively few people living in it then—was a two-million-dollar flop, largely because the equipment needed to show it best wasn’t installed in many theaters. But Wayne’s cowboy persona appealed to men and women alike, and he went on to become synonymous with the Western movie.
Movies & Movie Stars, America, Popular Culture

Orson Welles

Arts Days: October 30, 1938: Fright Night
Horrified people all over the East Coast huddled by their radios and listened fearfully to the newscast of a Martian invasion of Earth. In Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, where the Martians had supposedly landed, people took to the streets with weapons, intent on repelling the invading army.

Soon a mob had assembled, and police were called to subdue the panicked crowd. But there were no Martians, only acting impresario Orson Welles’ overheated imagination. The entire "news broadcast" was only an adaptation of H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and airing on CBS. Radio announcers were more careful to insert disclaimers during fictional programs after the War of the Worlds fiasco.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Theater, Popular Culture

Metallica

Arts Days: October 28, 1981: Rock’s Heavy Hitters
Ten years after Black Sabbath invented heavy metal in the 1970s, Metallica adopted the sound and redefined it. When drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad in the newspaper in 1981 looking for others to jam with, James Hetfield—who sings and plays guitar—was among those who answered.

Ulrich, Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bass player Robert Trujillo comprise the current lineup of the band, whose mission is to rock hard and heavy. With recordings like “…And Justice for All” and “St. Anger,” Metallica writes songs on subjects from political strife to love gone wrong, all with a thrashing, uncompromising sound. Make no mistake, Metallica’s music is loud, pounding, and intense—just like the guys in the band.
Rock & Roll, Music, America, Popular Culture

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Arts Days: October 05, 1969: Big Top Laughs
Sprung from the delightfully demented minds of British comedy troupe Monty Python, this TV show pushed the boundaries of humor every which way. The men at the heart of the program—including John Cleese and Eric Idle—used a mixture of bizarre animation, silly skits, innuendo, and deadpan British humor to bring a new form of absurdist comedy to the small screen.

The men dressed as women, broke the fourth wall, bopped each other over the head with fish, and stopped at nothing to wring new laughs out of their rabid fans. This “Circus” ran for 45 episodes, going off the air in 1974. But among those who like to imagine a “Ministry of Silly Walks,” as one popular skit did, its popularity has never waned.
Comedy, Television, Popular Culture

The Jazz Singer

Arts Days: October 06, 1927: You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet!
Goodbye silent film, hello talkie. This movie became the first feature-length film with a soundtrack synchronized to what was happening onscreen. In short, it was the first bona fide “talkie,” the movie that heralded the beginning of the end of the silent film. Al Jolson played Jakie Rabinowitz, a man who yearns to be a jazz singer but whose strict Jewish family disapproves of his creative goals.

Jolson performed some of the songs in the movie in blackface, a tradition left over from minstrelsy. While the practice is considered shameful and improper now, scholars have lauded the movie as “the only film where blackface is central to the narrative development.” For all these reasons, The Jazz Singer continues to be a landmark movie all these years later.
Movies & Movie Stars, Controversial, America, Popular Culture

peanuts comic

Arts Days: October 02, 1950: Nuts About Peanuts
Charles M. Schultz was the first cartoonist to use his pen to delve into the insecurities and uncertainties of modern life.

Schultz’s questioning of the human condition might not have been so welcome had he not filtered it through his young illustrated characters, who deeply resonated with readers: Charlie Brown, the “every-man” figure, the hapless hero, determined not to give up; Snoopy, the adorable dog-dreamer, who sees things the way they should be, not as they are; plus pals Linus and Schroeder, sister Sally, and, of course, Lucy, the domineering realist, always quick to put Charlie Brown in his place.

“Peanuts” was an enormous success and remains a favorite today; its offshoots include multiple iconic television specials, plays, and ice shows.
Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, America, Visual Arts, Popular Culture

Mickey Mouse Club

Arts Days: October 03, 1955: It’s Time To Say Hello
Created by Walt Disney, this long-running variety show entertained kids daily with songs, dance numbers, and that special Mouseketeer Roll Call, where the show’s young stars introduced themselves on-camera. These popular young performers, like Annette Funicello and Cubby O’Brien, were among dozens of kids who were cast to perform routines and skits around weekday themes.

For example, Monday was “Fun with Music” day, while Wednesday was “Anything Can Happen” day. The host and lone adult on the show, Jimmie Dodd, was famous for his lessons to viewers about the importance of being kind to others and other moral messages.
Young Artists, Television, Popular Culture

Winnie the Pooh

Arts Days: October 14, 1926: Pooh Power!
The legend of a golden bear named Winnie the Pooh, a boy named Christopher Robin, and an assortment of animal pals has charmed generations of children. Author A.A. Milne based dozens of Pooh tales on his own son and his beloved stuffed bear Winnie.

The first set of these stories, published on this day in 1926, introduced readers to other characters, including Tigger, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore. Readers were immediately taken by the animals and their shenanigans in the Hundred Acre Wood, catapulting Milne to international fame. The now famous honey-loving Pooh character can be found in countless cartoons, movies, and books.
Literature, Animals, Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Popular Culture

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