It has come to my attention that the AMAs happened. I don’t have a TV so I usually just catch up on showbiz razzle dazzle via social networking sites. So, what happened? Was there a Kanye outburst, did another celeb-utante announce a trip to the Betty Ford clinic, any other power-couples having a baby?
Honestly, I don’t really care, but as a lover of all sarcasm and derision based humour, it is nice to know what ones targets are for the next few weeks. I also feel it’s important to know what people find important. Not only does it make me feel superior, it also enables them to see how blindingly brilliant I am in comparison (see what I mean about sarcasm?) Not to toot my own horn, but I like to think I have a decent level of common knowledge, and pop-culture goes hand in hand with that. Sometimes I wish it didn’t, but I’m sure the same has been lamented throughout history. I mean, what else could the Philistines be but a pre-Christian version of Guidos? The Mormons are their generation’s Scientologists, this season’s Hipster is the 60s Hipster.
My idea that pop-culture is relevant to our lives is by no way a new one. In fact even one of my colleges had a class on it. Sort of. The class was called General Culture (and the Kitten who sometimes comments here, was in the same class for one year, so she knows I’m not making this sh*t up), GC as I shall call it, was a class about whatever subject the professor wanted it to be that day. Not in the kind of “ students, I had a bad day, we’re now going to explore why my ex-wife is a b*tch and how I can get her back by not paying alimony”, as difficult as those classes were, GC was worse. Observe the following scene in your imaginative mind’s eye:
Teach: Yo, yo kidlets, today we are going to look at two subjects. And when I say that I mean I’m going to call you out in front of your comrades to bullshit about subjects of my choosing.
Kidlets: Yay.. wait, what are the subjects?
Teach: Well I thought the Triassic era. You, the kid with the overbite, come here and explain to the whole class about flora during the Triassic era, and if it was different from previous and subsequent plant life.
Overbiter: Uh, it was um, er Dinosaurs, where like there, and um, there were meteors. Yes? Wait, was this a yes or no question? Is the answer: peanut butter?
Teach: False! Dinosaurs appeared mid way through the Triassic era, next you’ll be saying you didn’t know the Triassic era was after the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event!
(blank looks all-round)
Teach: You! The girl with black dyed hair and a gormless expression, come here and tell everyone about the relevance of Jean-Baptiste de Lully’s influence on ballet during the years 1654 and 1659.
Dyejob: Er, well, Lully was er, French, and er ballet, is a French word, er. He made them dance with baguettes, and secularized ballet?
Teach: FALSE! He was born Giovanni Batista Lulli, he was Italian, and the word ballet originates from the Greek word ballizo, meaning to dance, sit down you disappointing pieces of garbage!
Basically, GC was a chaotic semblance of a class, in which we were constantly reprimanded on our lack of knowledge about things that were so obscure that hipsters would turn to ash realizing how mainstream they were in comparison. It was difficult to really learn for that class, I remember a pop quiz having questions like: name the first President of the Republic of Ireland (which I got right, its Eamon deValera, but I only know that because I used to hang in a bar named after him), as well as questions such as who was Max VonBaden, what two countries does the region of Patagonia straddle and what colony lies therein?
It was basically a game of blind luck to study everything and hope that the fraction of historical pop-culture you studied would come up.
I may have made that sound flippant. Without being too glib, all culture originated as pop-culture, everything that was popular and is now historical culture was at one time pop. Let that sink in, it’s tautological, but the prospect of comparing Rachmaninov and Christina Aguilera is quite a daunting and stomach-churning one.
To get back to my initial hypothesis; not only is pop-culture relevant, it is downright necessary to see where we are going as a society. Also to soothe ourselves by observing that all that freaky deeky stuff has happened at least once before it hit us and the world has, as of the time of writing this post, not imploded, exploded or ‘ploded in any other way.
Pop-culture is how we keep our fingers on the pulse of our generation; politics is how we keep our fingers on the jugular of our generation. I’d say it was a pretty big distinction. Oh wait, they’re combining…. I don’t really want to make this a political rant, but has anyone else noticed how politics in the US, and to a certain extent, globally is becoming a gigantic media market? I mean comedy in the foray of politics is old news, but the increasing trend of politicians to go on TV to promote their party, is in my opinion, verging on the desperate and delving into the grotesque.
Either way it makes pretty good TV. I love topical jokes, and the Daily Show is doing well, and I find that the Colbert Report is holding up too.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, pop-culture. What was my point again? Right, that pop-culture is a social indicator of great importance. Well, some, well, a little, maybe.
Why do I like it? Because it allows common ground. In this modern day, with its iphones, androids, highspeed-dating, broken homes and disintegrating communities, pop culture can identify you to your ‘yet-to-be-buddies’.
For example if I said “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world” and you responded “She took a midnight train going anywhere” we would instantly know that we were both rocking internal mullets, and several levels of cool above people who didn’t join in, and way above the guy who said “Man, I love that song, ‘Summer of 69’ is the greatest!” Let me explain with less mullet-rock, say you were talking about something that someone didn’t understand entirely and they responded with “Whatchutalkin’ ‘bout Willis?” it would be HIL-a-rious for some, because for a certain sort of person there is nothing funnier than bi-racial, exploitative, midget comedy. But if the same person had done this: Huh? I would find it waaayyy funnier.
See what I mean, pop-culture allows us to immediately pinpoint the kind of person we want to hang out with, and also shows us the kind of people we don’t. It is a reflection of ourselves, our hearts, our lifeblood, and other things that should not be held up to a mirror unless you’re on an operating table undergoing microsurgery.
We use references and their basis to gauge our likes and dislikes of people. Even those who avoid pop-culture use pop-culture to indicate if they would get on with people. So it’s important in several key ways, to monitor trends in society (and to monitor what the historical results were and see if we have progressed at all, or whether we are just primordial slime having an elaborate game of make-believe), to gauge where we are and those around us are in that society, and finally because like it or lump it, today’s pop-culture is the legacy we will leave for the generations to come. Damn.
At least, we’ll leave behind Community, 30 Rock, a ton of rebooted 70s shows, and anything with Jon Stewart in it.
Tell me: what is the reference that if you made and someone got, your esteem of them would immediately rise, or plummet.