The aim of this research paper is to analyze popular culture and traditional culture in terms of the cultural image of gun. Psychological analysis, examples from history and main points in an interview associated with gun usage in a reign are also in the context of the paper. The gun image has evolved in the course of history and lost its cultural value within the popular culture.
Culture is everywhere around us. In the broadest terms, it refers to the meanings, values and ways of life of particular groups, nations and classes. It has changed considerably in the course of history.
From traditional culture to popular culture, a change was obvious. In parallel to this change, the role of the image of gun also has changed to date. A man with a gun of his own can be regarded as the protector of his family honour, provider for his family, the hunter and the figure of power in society.
In traditional cultures, the image of gun symbolizes such power, manhood and masculinity. This type of culture still prevails and can resist to or isolate itself from popular culture. People have gun to feel secure or show themselves more powerful than they seem. Having a gun is a product of traditional culture. It can also be observed in Turkish culture. In many houses in which traditional culture reigns, some kinds of gun are perceived as a crucial part. When a child is born, a kind of gun or weapon is given to him or her. These societies are mainly patriarchal. That’s why men have gun in order to show themselves more masculine than others. The following is a good illustrator what is previously mentioned.
“Guns used to have a role in rites of passage rituals in the mountainous areas of Northern Albania and Montenegro, although empirical evidence about it is scarce. In Albania, before 1912, weapons were an essential part of a man’s attire. They would wear a long rifle called an arnautka, and a short sword or a couple of pistols in their belt. When a boy reached 12 to 15 years old, there was a special family ritual, where his father presented his son with these traditional weapons and taught him how to maintain them and how to shoot accurately.75 Fathers traditionally pass guns down to their sons as family heirlooms, in rural areas of Macedonia, where the population is predominantly Albanian (Petricusic, et al., 2006, p. 31).”
As for a village woman interviewed in Trabzon, Eastern Black Sea Region , even women get themselves equipped with guns when away from home for the pursuit of daily routines ( farm work, animal feeding and so on ). Gun gives them a feeling of security and power. In a sense, a woman with a gun has the courage that is exercised mainly by men. As in rural areas, traditional culture still appears to resist to the popular culture. Women carry gun for the purpose of protection against any threat whether from a human or a wild animal.
“Balkan folklore has quite a few songs and tales about female haidouks or rebel-leaders. This may be because Ottoman laws did not prohibit women joining the army or carrying weapons. There are cases of female timariotes, who were women who owned and managed property in exchange for military duties. The wives and widows of auxiliary and special troops (like the martoloses, derbendci, dogandci, dzanbazes) were also counted as military personnel. This granted women the right to use their husbands’ arms and ammunition (Petricusic, et al., 2006, p. 30).”
The following depicts a society in which gun has a crucial role :
“Novi Sad, in Serbia, suggests that within their ‘culture’ it is important to carry a gun and occasionally use it to keep up their status as people to be feared and not challenged. Everyone carries a gun after midnight in this town [Novi Sad]. This is something that everyone knows. You cannot carry it openly, but many young people occasionally carry a concealed weapon during the night.
Some people always carry one or more hidden guns. Everyone knows who they are. I often see them enter a very popular bar after midnight, and the bodyguards at the entrance, who check everybody else, do not dare check them for weapons – even they know these guys are loaded with weapons and are afraid of them. These guys rarely use or show their weapons openly. Occasionally, they do show them and threaten to use them on someone in public. The word quickly gets round. These guys are famous and feared. Nobody messes with them because you would get killed.’
‘I don’t like weapons and I loathe violence… but still, it is extremely important to be feared and I had to have a reputation that helped me keep at the top. So, I occasionally carefully planned some ‘incidents,’ where I acted like a lunatic; I shouted loudly, I threatened people and most importantly I waved a handgun in front of people’s faces. I pretended I was totally out of control and might fire at them at any moment. I then randomly fired several bullets into the wall around them. When people see a gun fired at them, they are so terrified that they will do absolutely anything you demand; your power over them is limitless… If others do not fear you, then they will quickly step on you and destroy you; rule or be ruled, that is the law of a man with the gun (Petricusic, et al., 2006, p. 29).”
With respect to the term ”common sense”, gun is regarded as a cultural image in most societies (traditional culture). The ones who do not possess guns constitute a smaller portion of that whole society. Therefore, the concept of ”self and other” manifests itself in traditional cultures. The concept ”self” stands for the ones possessing a gun whilst the concept ”other” represents those who do not possess.
Throughout history, mainly in traditional cultures, gun has become unique image for leaders to gain power. They appear on TVs with gun images so as to depict themselves more powerful than they are.
“During the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, it was extremely common to see politicians carrying guns in public. Politicians and popular figures frequently appeared in public in military uniform, sometimes waving handguns and even assault rifles. This was especially true for the radical nationalist parties: Vojislav Seselj, leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, was famous for threatening his political opponents and critics with a handgun. He was also photographed in 1991 with his own paramilitary unit in torn-down Vukovar, posing with a machine gun in his hand. The notorious criminal and paramilitary leader, Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, who founded and led the Serbian Unity Party, was often seen parading in his military uniform and toting his weapons.
In Croatia, many people perceived members of the Croatian Army, and the paramilitary groups associated with the Croatian Party of Rights, as public heroes and role models. Even politicians, who were not part of the military structure, would proudly appear in public in uniforms and with firearms. The frequency of these public displays of weaponry decreased dramatically after the conflicts ended. This could be because politicians and military figures were using firearms, as symbols of independence and freedom, to mobilise the masses for the war effort and to make the war more acceptable to the public. How these behaviours and images of guns have impacted on the way guns are represented today is debatable (Petricusic, et al., 2006, p. 33).
After industrial revolution and urbanization, people have begun to immigrate to cities, leading to the formation of an industrial society. People’s from different cultures living together in the same areas caused cultural clushes within the society, which gave rise to the emergence of a new culture named ”popular culture”. At the heart of this culture lies consumption. Capitalism, a system of which main motives are profit and consumption, has profoundly affected and altered the way people perceived popular culture.
Different cultural identities have gradually been mingled together. Shopping, in fact, has become an indispensable part of popular culture and is especially of great significance for women. What’s more, television and internet have also contributed greatly to the development of popular culture.In this respect, the image of gun within the cultural context has been on a dramatic change.People generally have given up the tendency to own a gun. They no longer regard it as a cultural object . In consumption oriented society, the gun image has lost its significance as an indicator of manhood, masculinity and power. Then the image of gun has been seen in computer games and film industry.
Gun is to be regarded as a cultural image in terms of axis of symmetry. It can be said that after traditional culture in which the image of gun as a cultural object had a crucial part, it has lost its meaning literally and become virtual. Its role as a sign of masculinity has marginalized significantly in popular culture.
What lies beneath the surface of the urge for a person to own a gun is mainly psychological. For Freud, in popular cultures, ”id” finds its representations in people’s owning guns without considering the consequences of their own actions. Having gun is not essential component of popular culture. However, some people, in the search of power, insist on carrying a gun. Adler asserts that the concepts ‘inferiority and superiority” can be used as a means to identify an individual with gun. For Adler, gun is seen as a way of suppressing one’s inferiority. Those carrying a gun are of the feeling of being superior.
According to Jung’s collective unconsciousness concept, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents. In this sense, the image of gun can be regarded as archetype. From its emergence to the present date, the image of gun has steadily evolved but it remains evil in the minds of people.