This is a moderately touched-up but ultimately, unfinished essay that I started forever ago, and has been sitting on my work computer for just as long. I figured I’d share it because I feel like sharing something today. Keep in mind this is in no way finished, just something that had come to mind and I started jotting down. Hope it’s cool.
I am totally hooked up to the vein of pop culture, moreso than I’ll ever admit to, probably.
But that’s OK, because I’ve come to a few realizations when it comes to immersing yourself in pop culture and mainstream media news. And that it’s OK to be a part of it, to be “in” with it, to know what the hell is going on when people around you talk.
However, in here is where a distinction has to be drawn. A lot of people will justify their obsessions with pop culture, especially when they’re self-styled pisshead bloggers and wannabe journalists (like me), by proclaiming themselves to be culture “critics”. Their snarky commentary about TV shows and admittance of obsession with internet memes is, in their minds’ eyes, not just them listing funny stuff but SERIOUS BUSINESS. And yes, it’s meant to be typed like that, all in capital letters. SERIOUS BUSINESS.
What pop culture criticism is meant to be is a realization that mainstream news and culture is in fact a reflection of the face of social behavior and culture in general. Even non-mainstream cultural trends and mainstays are a part of it, because they’re defined as being “anti”, they are anti-culture and thus depend on the existence of “posi” (if we’re gonna call subcultures “anti” we might as well stick with the positive-charge and negative-charge allusions) culture. Riot Grrl doesn’t exist without pre-existing societal norms about women and sex, and guys who claim to never watch TV because it’s all shit or whatever only exist BECAUSE of TV shows that are shit.
It takes a significant effort to separate yourself from pop culture. A very significant effort, because media saturation is just there. It’s impossible to fully escape unless you actively separate yourself from not only stuff like TV and magazines and the internet, but even conversations with other people around you.
Now, I know that in the massive ladder of academia and theory/criticism, pop culture criticism falls pretty low, down towards the bottom rungs right there with “Why Pot Should be Legal” college papers and Oscar Wilde jokes about gay sex.
Still, it’d be nice if people got it right. One of my favorite Brits, Charlie Brooker, does. He’ll readily admit that he loves TV, but just hates shit that’s on it sometimes, which is why he can talk about it and criticize it, because he loves it and wants it to be good stuff.
Because deep down, all we want is something good on TV.