Brainless Popular Culture?
Popular culture is associated with the everyday and has attached itself firmly into the lives of the young and old alike in today’s British society with omnipresent subjects of the popular scene such as films, celebrities, television and music becoming ingrained into the fabric of the population. This is mainly due to the fact that this type of culture is commonly accessible; meaning that we all more or less have unlimited access to it through commodities such as DVDs, music concert tickets and music that can be downloaded in next to no time, and the access to record the adventures of Kim Kardashian so that we can stare endlessly at all her riches, fame and family dilemmas if we so wish to.
There are advantages for this type of popular culture as their access provides us with topics for conversation, and even the bringing-together of people with similar interests such as at music concerts and who is in the top ten music chart. Yet, despite this, does this type of popular culture described above really matter? I would argue it does matter if one feels that it is a part of his or her identity. Yet, in today’s society, there is a certain expectation of us to have a certain level of ‘popular culture knowledge’ or access. For example, I must be one of the few young people in England who does not have a Facebook account. This does not bother me as I feel like nothing in my life is lacking as a result of not having Facebook in my life; but when I tell others (especially those my age) that I do not have Facebook they look at me as if I have just admitted to having a third nipple.
In terms of whether we should have a certain level of popular culture knowledge, it perhaps depends on what area of popular culture we are speaking of as some may argue that there is a difference between being unable to recall the names of The Only Way is Essex cast and that of admitting to not have watching Star Wars triology for example…So, does this mean that some elements of popular culture matter more than others? Of course, these questions are all subjective and may be answered differently dependent on who the questions are addressed to.
Speaking of The Only Way is Essex bunch, there is the argument that popular culture is becoming more ‘dumb’. I recently came across an online psychology article arguing that today’s popular culture such as reality TV shows such as Geordie Shore teaches young people that it’s cool to be stupid. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly the impression I am getting when I watch some programmes on television nowadays. Then again, some may argue that there is nothing wrong with a bit of harmless, light-hearted and at times amusing television programmes on our screens.
I remember in the 1990s an American cartoon animation known as Beavis and Butthead: two unbelievably immature, constantly sniggering young lads who took the Michael out of music videos and reality television shows. They were the ultimate American television critics who would probably have no problem making fun of some of our reality television shows that are available to us today. Then again, this type of popular culture will always be present on our screens…we just have the choice whether to watch it or not.
Words by: Natasha Ayres