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Cultural Hegemony

Cultural Hegemony

Hegemony Hegemony is “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” (Lull, 33). This definition from James Lull in Chapter 4 of Gender, Race, and Class in Media proves to be the simplest explanation of the word. Put even more simply, hegemony is the use of societal influence by a dominating group in society to oppress a weaker group, or to influence societal norms in their favor. Examples of cultural hegemony are noticeable all throughout our society today, as well as in our book.

It is exemplified in Chapter 35, which shows the relationship of the pimp and hoe in hip-hop culture. The male is the masculine figure that socially dominates the females. Author Tricia Rose says that the male pimps of the hip-hop culture treat women with the attitude that “women are bitches, and bitches are whores and prostitutes” (Pg. 321). In addition to this example, there is one other example in the book that stands out. “When in Rome” by David Nylund has an article about a topic very near and dear to my heart: sports; and more specifically, sports talk shows.

Jim Rome is one of the most prominent figures in sports talk and has a nationally syndicated radio talk show, and a show on ESPN. Rome is promoted as a brash, loud, and opinionated straight talker. More accurately, however, Rome merely yells and degrades homosexuals and women. It is important to analyze the audience that listens to talk radio. “Talk radio is aimed at a very desirable demographic: White middle-class men between the ages of 24 and 55 years.

Research shows that talk radio listeners are overwhelmingly men who tend to vote Republican” (Nylund, 172). This is important because with the deregulation of the radio in the 1980’s, and the subsequent capitalization of the radio that followed, it was important to please your listeners, as they could always go elsewhere. This was, and still is, shown on conservative talk radio, where one side of any store is only ever told, and conservatives are always going to get an opinion similar to their own.

Now, back to Rome. Rome has a laundry list of misogynistic comments and running jokes. Most notably, he repeatedly called NFL quarterback Jim Everett “Chris”. This was a reference to female tennis star Chris Everett. This was Rome’s way of calling Everett soft, that he played like a girl, that only a man can be tough and that any shred of feminism was undesirable. He even famously got into a physical altercation with Everett when Rome called Everett “Chris” to his face on Rome’s ESPN show.

Another running comment made by Rome is the not-so-subtle reference to dancers and cheerleaders at professional games “skanks”. This is the type of derogatory statement that passes as normal banter on The Jim Rome Show. These are just three examples of hegemony, but there are an infinite number of other examples that can be seen in society today. On any given Sunday, you can watch football and see society glorifying masculinity and telling men how they should act, that they should be strong and dominant.