Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Naga Youth and Popular Culture - Azono Chusie, Chaplain




There was a time in Nagaland when most of the Naga youth had hairstyles inspired from their favourite Korean film stars. Today, Korean influence on the Naga youth is being replaced by other cultures; one of them being the South American culture, owing to the recognition of several sports celebrities and Hollywood stars. Our youth today are inspired by fashion choices of celebrities like Lionel Messi, Neymar, Christiano Ronaldo, and Rihanna. However, popular culture isn’t limited to looks alone. Popular culture can have a massive effect on the culture of the land, especially through the influence of the younger generation strongly promoting new trends. So, how do we respond to this and how can we better understand our Naga youth today?


Naga Youth and Popular Culture


Popular culture is an amorphous, continually changing subculture characteristically reflected and fostered by the mass media. It expresses itself through artifacts, clothes, visual art, lingo, cult personalities, and music. It is one of the most changeable aspects of our way of life and is always dynamic. If we look into our society, culture is always evolving. Globalisation and the development of technology have led to the creation of a uniquely shaped environment which our youth are living in today. They are caught in a whirlwind of change.

Tension is heightened when adult’s expectation to let young people continue with their past lifestyle comes into conflict with the youth who want to be a part of the present popular culture.  In this advanced and technological world, the youth are drawn heavily towards popular culture. The power of youth culture is everywhere- from fashion trends to vehicle designs, movies to television shows, video games to sports and music. Advertisers recognise this power and gear their advertisement to youth and the culture industry that caters to the youths’ needs and desires.

It is also no wonder that many church leaders have given their opinion about popular culture as degrading their traditional moral values and considered it as disadvantageous. They may be right in some ways but the sensitivity of the issue requires us to understand the generation in which the youth are living. The youth today are hard-pressed in the history of Naga society; they live among people whose character and ways of life are formed in a setting very different from their own What is obvious in the Naga society is that instead of recognizing the differences, the older generation suppresses the needs of young people, whereas the younger generation is prone to adopt new culture, “degrading” the moral values of the tradition. To have a better relationship between the adult and youth, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of both popular culture and traditional values. Both the groups should realize that both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ culture are equally important.

The youth are influenced by popular culture both positively and negatively. Popular culture plays a great role in shaping the lifestyle and worldview of a person by helping them have a more global outlook. Popular culture isn’t necessarily an evil in today’s society. It can be harnessed and used for good purposes besides the normal entertainment values that it holds in everyday life. However, it is also true that a lot of the cases of drug and sexual abuse arises from what the youth sees on the various facets of popular culture.

If we look at our present scenario, a majority of the youth have labelled traditional values as “outdated”. No doubt, there are some negative impacts of traditional values, like gender biases, but the youth cannot just make excuses to do away with all the traditional values. The youth should appreciate the positive morals and values of their roots and be proud of them.

The fact that the current generation of youth are often more adept with popular culture than their parents adds an additional level of concern for the latter. The speedy and easy access to the world through the web of cyberspace clearly has an effect on the subsistence of youth. Parents as a whole have a greater responsibility than ever. They must comprehend popular culture in order to know their children’s culture.

Parents play a significant role in a youth’s life. We need to make the family unit a place where children are closely guided, moulded, corrected and given the right amount of freedom to thrive. It is our responsibility to train up a child in the right way. We should also be accountable in equipping children with morals and values. Parents should realize that different generations have different needs and interests.
In this fast moving media-oriented culture, the world is full of choices and it is because of this that life is more interesting. The adult generation should help the youth to impart Christian values and beliefs so that they can make healthy choices. Perhaps adhering to religious values may be a good way to balance between traditional beliefs and the fluid cultural values. The youth should also be encouraged to cultivate spiritual disciplines. They should be given proper information to educate themselves about the issues that confront them. 


The Church leaders and parents should help the youth to utilize the positive aspects of popular culture. They should give the youth room to grow, but at the same time, exercise a certain amount of restraint. This will enable the youth to see and prepare to face the realities of our world. The youth are searching for meaning and purpose in life. They are in great need of parental and adult love, care and guidance. They also need space to develop themselves as individuals in order to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought delves into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: dot@tetsocollege.org”.


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