07 January 2008

Pop Culture.

I cannot say that I am averse to pop culture.

However, if one weren't truly uninterested, it seems that one can't open the newspaper (or read it online) to learn about pop stars or actors being arrested for DUIs or having their children taken away from them.

And the same newspapers imply that some of its readers take cues from celebrity behavior: so if a sixteen year old actress gets pregnant, all sixteen year olds will follow, and this means that then we as a society should change our message to teenagers about sex. Immediately. (Never mind the legions of sixteen year olds who have had babies before this actress).

Recently, I've been interested in the proliferation of home life tv shows hosted celebrities in which they try (unsuccessfully, I think) to convince audiences that they are just like everyone else. They have arguments at the breakfast table! They tell their children that they can't have a Porsche today, but perhaps tomorrow if they make their beds!

Is all of this a part of aspirational branding or the pursuit of something better than we have? Does this mean that I should hope for the creation of a reality TV show starring a celebrity who is a single woman living in a coastal city with a cat?

How important is pop culture to you? to anyone? Even if we sit around and mock it, it means something, doesn't it?

Should I have a vested interest in watching the downfall of certain celebrities who don't seem to have anything going for them except for fast amounts of money and resources? I don't think so, but pop culture certainly implies that I should.

14 comments:

Dexter Colt said...

Having spent the most impressionable years of my life in the 80's [undoubtedly a decade crammed with popular culture] I can say, without a doubt, that pop culture is meaningless.

Jackart said...

Pop culture, when it's music or literature is fine. What should never be described as pop culture is that social methadone, celebrity.

In a fractured society women need gossip, but have few friends in common with colleagues round the water cooler. This is where la Spears and her ilk come in. Is she splitting up with K fed? I don't care, but then I don't care about mrs miggin's from number 28's bunions either. Men use sport for that.

m.a. said...

Dexter Colt,

I do think that the 80s was really crammed with popular culture, but I can't really remember what wasn't repulsive about it then. Was it because I was young and absorbed? Perhaps.

Jackart,

I love that you assume that women *need* gossip. Do you believe that women will explode without being able to say something about someone? You could be right. I don't know. This might have to be come a post. The culture of gossip. Readers?

What do you think?

a little of this, a little of that... said...

Participation in or rejection of pop culture is something that a group of people can hold in common, a part of their way of life. Do members of culture groups gain a sense of identity because of their stance on pop culture? If yes, pop culture has meaning to them.

Just because pop culture seems homogeneous and widespread does not mean that everybody everywhere experiences or deals with pop culture in the same way.

m.a. said...

Well, of course people don't deal with pop culture in the same way. However, it is nevertheless interesting that I turn the television right before I go into work and there you have it: there is talk of Britney Spears and her trouble.

I don't care, but a nationally syndicated program certainly does! But then again, a good number of people are at work at this time. At least on the east coast.

a little of this, a little of that... said...

Does the nationally syndicated program care, or is it catering to what people want, or to what the producers think/assume people want? Regardless, I agree that it is interesting.

cuff said...

First, let me say I'm so glad you're back.

Second, pop culture is. It has been since at least the 1920's and the advertising revolution and the mechanical reproduction and dissemination of culture via radio, television, and recordings allowing us to consume that culture at our leisure in our homes.

However, I think more and more we're filled with meta-culture, as the culture industry centralizes itself not only as commodity producers but as a commodity itself to be consumed -- so Britney Spears the musician (!?) fades to Britney Spears the celebrity, whose personal story is pretty banal except that she's a celebrity. Lindsey Lohan is just a pretty woman with a coke habit -- nothing new there, really -- except she's Lindsey Lohan, celebrity, and that turns her from an item in the local paper's "police log" to fodder for national scandal mag exposure.

What's inescapable about pop culture in our current time is the length to which "hard news" and "celebrity news" or "bizarre news" has blurred together -- just check out cnn.com's top page anytime for constantly renewable examples of this fact.

Damn this comment is long.

m.a. said...

A little...

I don't know. That's what I found fascinating. Does this program think that people who are home at this time (who want to watch television) are interested in this stuff? Perhaps? I'm really not sure.


Dr. Cuff,

How right you are. I'm tired of all of the news being smushed together into one big mega news report. I'd rather hear about crime and other stuff not at the same time as celeb news, thankyouverymuch.

Washington Cube said...

I won't even go see that "you've got to see it" movie, Juno, because I hate some smart-mouthed brat who out susses, out sasses the adults (once more), and shut up and do your homework. You're having an abortion.

::picking up crewel work hoop and stitching "TMZ.":::

m.a. said...

Hello, Madame Cube!

I did see Juno and I could certainly see why one wouldn't want to go and see it.

The stitching. Yes. The stitching. :)

suicide_blond said...

hey chickie!!!!
pop culture... i guess im in the minority here..but i love it... not really "it" but i love how twisted it is that it is sooo pervasive... im not sure how to put this..but...i like to "watch people.. watching people" personally i dont care which celeb is dating which..but i'm facinated by the folks at the water cooler going on and on and on about it....as for the celebs themselves..i just feel sorry for them... what a pitiful soul less life they have...
xoxo

m.a. said...

Hey lady!

I think that you are absolutely right to be fascinated by the reactions of people. That's what I'm fascinated by as well.

Claven said...

Pop culture is just a medium. This all about deadly sin, envy. If someone created a celeb-reality tv or news program (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) about the daily lives of unremarkable everyday peeps like you and me, it would be on PBS...and we'd be the only people watching. This is simple envy of fame and money.

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