Community-Lesson in Culture and Myth


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As far as the comprehension of semantic meaning in current American culture, very few shows hit the level of meta analysis and awareness as the TV show Community. The show relies on the knowledge and understanding of different genres in TV and movies and utilizes those meanings and theories to create a\parody that is self-aware of  Barthes notion of  “recycling previous texts and especially mythological ones,” in order to create a semiology that recognizes the signs and signification within its own content. Moreover, Yuri Lotman’s definition of culture as made up of special features and sign systems gives us an understanding of how the show plays off of niche subcultures in it’s sign system and also plays off our understanding of text in different genres much like the play on words (a feature the show sometimes uses) is used in language to create jokes and  point out hypocrisy or stereotypes. Community is a mash-up of pop culture references and parody that can be best understood by viewers who have familiarity with the majority of cliches found in  movies, TV shows, video games, music, celebrities. For that reason, the show  draws from the idea of language, showcasing that our comprehension of parody is built upon existing knowledge of  structures  that help us to interpret the semantics of the jokes or genres. However, unlike language as Lotman points out, culture is nonhereditary and a social phenomenon which is indicative of Community’s presence on TV. It has a small audience but maintains a huge fanbase.

The video above displays an instance of Community utilizing meaning-making to make commentary on movie genres knowing that many viewers are aware of the classic semiotics of these texts. However, it is also important to realize that like many TV shows Community’s relevance is defined by the cultural longevity of the people. If people no longer remember the pop culture or genre references defined in the video, it is no longer relevant.

This clip is an obvious parody of morning talk shows, such as Good Morning American, and uses little details such as the individuals behind the glass door holding up signs, as a sign system to help the viewer interpret the sign. Additionally, the set up of the chairs, the “happy talk” of Troy and Abed, and the mugs are all ways using the semiosphere of TV shows to make fun of it on another TV show. Community is very much a blatant depiction of intermedial and uses the viewers cultural encyclopedia of pop culture to create a symbolic dialogue. The show is harder for people to grasp when they have little knowledge of the semitoics of pop culture which limits its popularity as cross-globalized text unless the viewer is very familiar with American culture. The myths and textual pastiche that for the show Community are specific in determining the viewers mapping system of the program. Without previous structure or recognition of signs relevant to the show, it is difficult to get the show as long-running pop culture joke.