MULTIVOCALITY OF CROSS IN POLISH SOCIETY PRACTICES Symbol of the cross in popular culture. The analysis of the use and transformation of the symbol in “Machina” magazine
Marta Kołodziejska 1 1 - MAeS 2012; 13 (1): ICID: 1093904 Article type: Original article IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
The following article focuses on the issue of use and transformation of religious symbols, the symbol of the cross in particular, in popular culture. “Machina” magazine, being one of the oldest and most influential popcultural magazines in Poland, was chosen as a case study. Methods applied in this research comprised qualitative content analysis, as well as semiology (term adapted from Gillian Rose). Popular culture, based strongly in visual communication, has fluid canons and is of an (auto)ironic nature. Therefore, symbols from different domains are transformed within this culture so that they fit to its rules of communication. Religious symbols have been used extensively in “Machina”; among them, the symbol of the cross, the use of which can be cathegorised as follows: conventional (illustrating an article devoted to the topic of religion), humorous (giving a ‘lighter’tone to a serious article, but without the aim to shock), mocking or sardonic (staying in sharp contrast with the content of an article, often meant to shock or draw attention), to present an idol (often done by comparing a popcultural idol to Christ). According to the results of analysis, the use of religious symbols in popular culture is inevitably connected to the overlapping of religious communication and popcultural communication, which creates a particular ambivalence of the meaning of the symbol. One should ask if resulting adaptation of religious symbols by popular culture may be considered a desacralisation of those symbols. On the basis of the above-mentioned case study, one cannot give an unequivocal answer. On the one hand, we are presented with symbols, whose meaning has been transformed due to their use in a different context. On the other hand though, there are also such uses of symbols that do not distort its original character and function. Although popcultural communication may lead to simplification and deconstruction of symbols, one cannot claim it is de-symbolised as such. Desymbolisation and desacralisation are, at any rate, ongoing processes, but they are parallel to the process of creation and transformation of symbols as well. The research may be an inspiration for further analysis of the way religious symbols function within the realm of popular culture.