Posted by: cprofita | October 9, 2017

Andy Warhol On How Media Influenced Culture After Kennedy Assassination


I visited the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh last week, and much of his artwork comments on how the media influences American culture.

One installation that stood out was his 1964 silkscreen series “Jackie.” It includes repeated images of Jackie Kennedy that Warhol lifted from magazines and newspapers after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

By singling her out and repeating her image over and over, Warhol illustrates the loneliness of this widow and the mourning process that the entire country was going through. But he’s also commenting on the effect of incessant media coverage of the tragedy.

Television was a unifying media outlet during this period that allowed people to relive tragic events visually. Watching television might have served the emotional needs of Americans as they mourned Kennedy’s death. Thomas Ruggiero’s article “Uses and Gratifications Theory in the 21st Century” notes how people can use media to serve a variety of needs.

But Warhol once said:

“I’d been thrilled about having Kennedy as president; he was handsome, young, smart – but it didn’t bother me that much that he was dead. What bothered me was the way television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad. It seemed like no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t get away from the thing.”

Repeated images in his “Jackie” series reflects this perspective, that the media was “programming” people to dwell on their sadness after the assassination.

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