There are a lot of forums in which to discuss pop culture. It seems to be something that we, as a society, can’t consume enough of. Is it all just noise? When real problems are out there, is it silly to discuss and love pop culture so much?
Part of it is silly, I’ll admit. If I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, or if I would have a roof over my head tonight, or if I was afraid for my safety, then I would definitely not be sitting in my pajamas typing this. But, despite that, I’ll argue that it is important. Not in a “breaking news” type way, of course. We are fortunate to live in a society that has enough recreational time to devote to creating and enjoying culture. When I stop to think about it, it’s something that I’m truly thankful for.
First of all, pop culture makes us happy. You can be having a crummy morning, but if the right song comes on your iPod or someone forwards you the right cat .gif, it can improve your mood instantly. A really satisfying novel or engrossing movie can shift your attitude. It’s not only just a fleeting pleasure either. I often can think back to something that I enjoyed, and the memory of it still produces happy thoughts.
For those who create, it’s a fantastic emotional outlet. It may even be better than talk therapy for some! Even if what you create isn’t marketable, it’s an excellent way to sort through feelings and thoughts in a way that maybe conversation can’t. Who hasn’t filled a journal or two with horrible poetry or doodles? It may even help those who consume it, to put words to thoughts, or know that someone, somewhere, is having the same problems that you are.
Pop culture is a part of our identity. Just as we equate certain paintings and sculptures with ancient Greeks or Renaissance Italy, the culture that surrounds us identifies us in a particular period of time. It’s also an important part of our individual identity. Your favorite poem or TV show can tell someone things about you that you may not be able to articulate.
Finally, it connects us together. The shared experience of a particular thing can bond people, even if they never meet. This is why cover songs either work well or completely bomb. If someone already has a connection to a song, and a band presents it again, it will either bubble up nostalgia or ire that the group has “messed it up”. It is rarely ever judged on the merits of being a good song on its own; there is always the context of the original to guide it.
You may still think that writing and thinking about popular culture is a waste of your time. Maybe it is. But I will continue to love it and embrace how it changes and delights me.