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The Body in Popular Culture

Free «The Body in Popular Culture» Essay Sample

Current paper is devoted to the analysis of the carnivalesque that may be presented as a specific form of social experience that may be observed in everyday life. It will be examined from the point of view of Freudian psychoanalysis. Strengths and weakness of this approach will be determined. On this basis, corresponding recommendations will be provided.

Current paper deals with psychoanalytic criticism that is built on Bakhtin’s notion of the carnivalesque and the grotesque body. Psychoanalysis provides a reliable rationale for understanding the role of the carnivalesque and the grotesque body in the modern world; at the same time, some aspects of this issue should be attributed to social rather than psychological factors. The carnivalesque may still be considered as an important part of the modern culture. However, its role is different in comparison with its traditional interpretation.

Bakhtin’s understanding of the carnivalesque may be presented in the following way. Carnival is able to change existing hierarchies and even challenge the existing state of social structure (Stallybrass and White 99). Bakhtin made his conclusions on the basis of his personal experience of dealing with Stalinism. He understood that totalitarianism is very dangerous for the development of society. In order to counter-balance this negative impact, carnivals may be used. Thus, the role of art and popular culture in encouraging democratic processes in the world is significant. The role of carnivals in the modern era is different. On the one hand, the models of the psyche reflect the existing opposition between carnival and order. On the other hand, carnival tends to become the subject of the audience’s remote examination (Stallybrass and White 99).


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The role of the carnivalesque and the grotesque body in the modern era may be presented as follows. In order to comprehend all complexities of the current state of affairs, people need to receive some interpretation of reality. Carnivals may offer such a representation. Even though it is not objective and grotesque, it helps to specify people’s feelings and emotions in relation to a particular issue. Moreover, the carnivalesque helps to specify key direction of necessary reforms and changes. Therefore, the development of free society is largely dependent on the opportunities offered by the carnivalesque. It seems that some of these aspects may be presented in a written form, as well. For this reason, different texts may also be analyzed from this perspective (Stokes 54).

Freudian psychoanalysis may be applied to this problem because Freud believed that the creation of civilization led to the repression of basic human instincts (Storey 91). Thus, the interests of individuals are sacrificed for the sake of society as a whole. It refers to all human instincts, but Freud mainly focused on sexual instincts. However, the interpretation of this issue by Freud does not seem to be entirely correct. It is true that individuals have to change their behaviors when they begin operating in a society. At the same time, it does not mean that they should necessarily sacrifice their interests and replace them by the needs of society. All people are free to cooperate with others. If someone prefers to cooperate with other people, then it is beneficial for him/ her. Thus, society may be based on the voluntary basis.

Moreover, Freud is incorrect in determining the positive and negative directions of society’s development. As he suggests that civilization requires sacrifice of basic human instincts, then it is beneficial for people to live in isolation. According to this perspective, carnivals have a negative impact on people, as well because they constitute the form of collective expression of people’s feelings and desires. However, Bakhtin demonstrates that carnivals were opposed in the Stalinist period. It means that totalitarian leaders understood the potential threats of mutually beneficial human cooperation for their system. It may lead to the opposite conclusions in comparison with that reached by Freud. All types of voluntary people’s cooperation are beneficial for the development of society, while all forms of compulsion and aggression are negative for all members of society. As carnivals are voluntary and help to express the worldview of different individuals, they may be considered as being positive for social progress.

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It may be reasonable to provide one of the examples of modern carnivals. The Carnival of Venice is one of the most popular carnivals in the world. It is closely related to Christian traditions. A number of different masks are used during the carnival. It has a number of baroque elements and contributes to the image of Venice in the world (Gilles 37). People all over the world can use this form of representation of reality. The grotesque elements may be useful, as they help to stress key aspects that should be changed in the nearest future. It seems that the carnivalesque contributes to higher flexibility of the social system. Its main role refers to the facilitation of necessary changes.

The central aspect of the Freudian approach is sexuality and its impact on people’s behavior and social progress. He suggests that sexual interests are repressed in society that may lead to different psychological problems. However, this analysis does not seem to be completely correct because sexual instincts are always directed in relation to other people. Individuals cannot express their sexuality in isolation. The crucial aspect is the form of their sexuality expression. It is important for this form to be civilized. Carnivals are one of the historical forms of the civilized expression of one’s sexuality. They create additional possibilities for people to express their feelings. As the whole process is grotesque, people may not be concerned with traditional social norms and be more open and creative.


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