Some people don’t think that Pop Culture matters. I should know – I’m one of them.
Or, more specifically, I should say that it doesn’t matter to me – or so I thought!
Here are 5 reasons why I and all the other people who feel that way are objectively wrong.
1. Pop Culture Is Important Because It Spreads Awareness.
I think a good example of this would be the 2014/2015 Ice Bucket Challenge. Without looking it up, can you tell me what the Ice Bucket Challenge was actually about?
If so, well done on being a nerd.
But being able to remember what certain memes are about isn’t the point. What happens when you look them up? That’s the point.
If you type ‘what was the ice bucket challenge about’ into Google then you’ll get some information about it, and you’ll find out it was also called the ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’.
Well, you probably do, I don’t know for sure.
I use DuckDuckGo myself, so maybe I should stop calling other people nerds.
ALS is also known as Motor Neuron Disease (or Lou Gehrig’s Disease for our American readers).
It doesn’t matter how you felt about the Ice Bucket Challenge. It doesn’t matter if you did or didn’t do it yourself. What matters is that anyone who researches it will find out about Motor Neuron Disease.
Will that magically fix the disease and mean that nobody ever had to deal with it? No, of course not. But the first part in fixing a problem is knowing that the problem exists. And the more people that know a problem exists, the more likely it is that the problem can be fixed – or at least that the issues that the sufferers face will be better understood.
Some of you might be thinking: ‘Hey – that’s Meme Culture, not Pop Culture!’. If so, feel free to explain why you think that Meme Culture isn’t a part of Pop Culture when you share this article on social media.
Yes, it’s bold of me to assume that this article will get shared but this is mainly just a segue to the next entry so I’ve got that going for me at least.
2. Pop Culture Is Important Because It Allows Us To Directly Support Content Creators Now.
It wasn’t always like this. When I was a young lad, Patreon wasn’t even a thing.
Did you see what I did there, at the end of that last entry – how I asked you to share the article?
Creators do this so that we can get paid. YouTube creators get paid per 1000 views (or whatever). On sites such as Gique, the creator generally gets paid based on how many shares an article gets. If you get no shares then you don’t get paid. If you get lots of shares, then you get paid.
And just to be 100% clear: That’s not a scam, it’s just how content creation generally works now.
Fun Fact: it doesn’t matter if the video/article/whatever is quality content or not. It doesn’t matter if it contains the truth. It doesn’t even matter if it’s ethical.
If you’ve ever shared something because you’re outraged by it, you might be surprised to learn that has literally the exact same effect as someone who’s shared it because they agreed with it: The video/article has been shared.
And then we argue about it amongst ourselves, and the more the argument grows, the more shares it gets, which makes the creator even more money.
I might not ever ‘make bank’ from writing for Gique (because I totally suck at social media, so I can’t really push for shares unless I do it in the article itself). However, at least I can write articles about things and then read them over a year later on and be like ‘I can’t believe I thought that back then‘ and yes that is a very specific example and also thank you for noticing.
But any money I do make will pretty much go directly into my pocket. It doesn’t need to go through, say, 10 layers of management before it trickles down to me – unlike in traditional media.
Do you think Dan Harmon gets the lion’s share of the money coming in from Rick and Morty or Community, his two most famous works?
Feel free to share this article and talk about that guy that turned himself into a pickle and how funny you found it.
The pickle thing, not this article.
Well, that too I guess.
Speaking of Community…
3. Pop Culture Is Important Because Nobody Should Be Forced To Face Reality 24/7.
I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail when I say that 2020 has been a pretty tough year so far for most of us.
This world, which literally nobody asked to be born into, can be very harsh. A lot of people don’t have a lot of joy in their life, for reasons well beyond their own control.
And this is why two actors from the cult classic comedy series ‘Community’, Joel McHale (who plays the unflappable Jeff Winger) and Ken Jeong (who plays the inimitable Chang) began a podcast named ‘The Darkest Timeline’ earlier this year.
According to them, they’ve done it for three main reasons:
– To educate and update people on the current pandemic (Ken is a doctor, or ‘was a doctor’ if you ask Joel),
– To entertain people (especially Community fans),
– And to stop themselves getting bored during this global pandemic.
They’ve had various guests on the show, usually other actors from Community. In the episode where they have Allison Brie (who plays the wholesome Annie on Community) as a guest, she starts doing prop work with a banana because that’s what you do when you’re an awesome person with a great sense of comedy.
At one point she affects a 1950s radio accent while using the banana like a phone, and says to Joel and Ken:
‘I’d like to thank you both so much for your jolly humour in these trying times’ (or something like that, I can’t quite make it out because SOMEONE keeps laughing over it – it’s me, I’m the one that keeps laughing over it).
And the way she says it – oh man, it got me laughing like I haven’t laughed in months. It’s not even, like, a joke or anything – it just really tickles my funnybone.
Never mind that guy who turned himself into a pickle, Allison Brie with a banana-stache and 1950s radio accent is the funniest shit I’ve ever seen. Which is good for me because I really needed a laugh. Shit is WEIRD right now, am I right?
And she makes an excellent point: We need entertainment so we can have a temporary break from so-called real life so that we can all approach our shared reality with fresh eyes and reinvigorated hearts (and probably also some other third thing as well).
Also, all you Rick and Morty fans out there should share my work with other Rick and Morty fans and be all like ‘lOoK wHaT tHiS lOsEr SaId AbOuT pIcKlE rIcK’.
Whatever, as long as we’re all celebrating Dan Harmon shows, that’s the main thing.
No, wait – the main thing is actually the ‘PLEASE SHARE MY WORK’ thing.
Sorry, I always get those two things confused.
Also, please pretend I did a segue to the next entry. Thanks!
4. Pop Culture Is Important Because It Shows Us That We’re Not Alone.
Have you ever had the experience where a character does something completely random on a show/movie/whatever and you’re like ‘Holy crap, I actually do that!’
It might be something as simple as ‘I also eat pizza backwards!’
Or maybe it’s something vomit-inducing like ‘I eat pizza normally, but with pineapple on it – that’s like me, I do that!!’
Or perhaps it’s even something depraved, something truly sick and twisted like ‘Hey, that’s like me – I also make weak jokes about how pineapple shouldn’t be on pizza even though I actually like pineapple on pizza!’
I think a good example of this is young girls with frizzy hair.
Young heroines rarely have frizzy hair. Frizzy hair is usually a sign that the character is the quirky best friend, the ugly nobody, or maybe even the insane villain.
So if I were a young girl with frizzy hair I reckon I would have really enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books – Hermione, the most capable of Harry/Ron/Hermione trio, had frizzy hair in the books.
There’s something comforting about knowing that we’re not the only ones dealing with certain issues. Sure, misery loves company – but a problem shared is a problem halved, too.
If you have frizzy hair, then why not support a content creator who represented you by sharing this article?
Yeah, okay – that was pretty weak. Moving on.
5. Pop Culture Is Important Because ANYONE Can Do It Now.
They say that you can tell how old someone is by how they react to certain memes.
Actually, I’ve never heard anyone ever say that but just work with me here.
For instance, if you say ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ to me, I’m going to reply with ‘Oh my god he just ran in’. If you say it to my kids, they’ll probably say ‘Isn’t that some old meme?’
Conversely, if you say to my kids ‘AW F*CK’ (please don’t though) then they’ll reply with ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE DONE THIS!’ whereas I’d be more likely to reply with something like ‘Are you okay? What’s wrong?‘
And if you understood both of those references, there’s a very large chance you’re in the 25-40 age bracket.
But do you know what both those memes have in common?
Of course you do, because you read the heading to this entry: Neither of those memes came from a professional entertainer.
Even the memes with entertainers in them (such as the Drake ‘Hotline Bling’ format which I used earlier in this very article) rarely come from the actual entertainers themselves. Social media influencers, perhaps – but not people from traditional media such as actors and musicians.
And while professional entertainers themselves are basically people doing high-end Role-Playing (Fun Fact: Iron Man’s armour is not actually real), it’s the more relatable content that seems to be standing the test of time.
And apps such as (ugh) TikTok and the now-defunct Vine (Fs in the chat) have made short-form content popular, more popular than short films ever did. This means that far less effort needs to go into creating and distributing content, which means that more people in general have access to the ability to express themselves in a creative manner, because they don’t need to dedicate large amounts of time and/or money into it.
We ARE the entertainment industry now. ALL of us.
So help out a fellow entertainer and share this article!
Pop Culture Isn’t Just Some Random Memes Or Whatever.
To cut a long story very short, I’ve tried to disengage from Pop Culture over the last few years because, frankly, I thought it was a disgusting waste of my time. I feel like I’ve got more important things to do.
But it struck me recently that that just means that Pop Culture doesn’t really matter to me.
But I know that’s not even true, because I just typed in ‘doesn’t really matter to me’ and now Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is stuck my head even though the line actually goes ‘nothing really matters to me’ and NOW I’ve got Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ stuck in my head instead.
The thing is, Pop Culture isn’t just ‘some random genre of things’.
It’s a marker of our shared history and also our personal history.
It’s proof that we existed and that we thought certain things.
It’s the ‘No Irish’ signs in old-timey photos. It’s some random young kid in Dublin who tries to think of the perfect response to a TikTok video. It’s apartheid. It’s LGBTQ+ acceptance. It’s the film Birth Of A Nation. It’s the show Steven Universe.
It’s us. All of us.
All of us in the sense that we’re all involved whether we like it or not, and all of us in the sense that it’s everything, warts and all. It’s the human condition, laid out bare for future generations to see.
For better or worse, Pop Culture is the current arc of the ongoing story of the human race.
Simply put: Pop Culture is YOU. YOU are Pop Culture.
It turns out that it’s not Pop Culture I hated or resented – it’s the fact that some people choose to enjoy it instead of wanting to take part in the story of improving our shared circumstances. And regardless of how I feel about that, that’s not my call to make.
And besides, a lot of people are now choosing to take part in it nowadays *cough* worldwide BLM protests *cough* so I’m clearly straight-up wrong in thinking that it’s a zero-sum game.
Maybe people need Pop Culture BECAUSE they want to take part in improving society?
It’s certainly food for thought – for me at least.