Immigration and Popular Culture

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Immigration and American Popular Culture
All of the different ethnic groups that migrated from their homeland to the United States left some kind of mark on American popular culture. The European immigrants during the 1930s created a very large splash in the public eye through the use of cinema. In addition, the Jamaican immigrants in South Bronx during the 1970s made a name for themselves by introducing a form of music called rap. In this paper, I will be analyzing and comparing the similarities and differences between the effects of the Jewish immigrants and the Jamaican immigrants on American popular culture and how popular culture redefined these groups and gave them social and political identities in the United States. Jewish immigrants of the 1930s took American popular culture by surprise through their mass takeover of the Hollywood film industry. Through the creation of many production companies, these immigrants were able to establish themselves as a dominant figure in the movie industry early in their careers. Many of these Jewish productions are common names in our current cinema industry such as Warner Bros., Miramax, and any of the other companies owned by the Weinstein brothers. A majority of the films produced by these companies were created on the idea of gangsters. However these gangsters portrayed in the films were double agents in the eyes of American people: criminal yet heroic, stylish yet tasteless, bold yet ultimately defeated. “The ‘gangster masquerade’ was an important exercise in popular culture artifice.”(13) Through these cinemas the movie producers were able to introduce slang terms into our society. Some of these terms, which are still popular today, are ‘gat’, ‘clip’, ‘beef’, and ‘the joint’. With these terms sneaking their way into the American vernacular, the Jewish film producers were able to develop new words that were used by all of society and are still used in our current era. By creating this image of the “Jewish gangster”...
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