The Curse of Pop Culture

Pop culture has been mostly about ordinary men and women making it big, achieving success that was not actually meant for them. The trend could be seen right from the days of fairy tales and folk tales when a poor boy would meet his beautiful princess or the hard-working maid would meet her knight in the shining armour. The trend continues with different plots and stories, while the structure remains the same. Pop culture’s structure, structuralists would argue, is the same as it follows the story of an ordinary person achieving that is something unattainable.

One could take the example of modern media even, where bodies and plots are glamorized enough to make people cringe. That glamour is what people strive to achieve, or gloss over people who have achieved and imagine their lives, empathize with them. Though it is unfair to dismiss pop culture as being ahistorical and assuming deterministic structural forces upon free will, it sometimes does seem so. One could think about thousands of examples about how most of what makes pop culture is inherently of the same structure: achieving the unachievable. If this trend has always been so, it reflects the masses aspirations to grow, and improve their rather dismal lives.

In such a case, instead of dismissing pop culture as being inherently of the same structure, one must appreciate its ability to provide hope to people who are surrounded by banalities. This structure allows the masses to dream, and imagine a life, a possibility that they may someday be somewhere they see on popular media. Thus, structure of pop culture need not be negative, and though there may not be innovation in the way pop culture has been thrusted upon its consumers, it has its share of reasons to be. Elitist movements have long derided the importance of what consists of pop and mass cultures.

Understandably so, but it provides a keen observer with information that is contemporary, relevant and valuable in particular times and situations. Moreover, what has been considered pop culture has always been later deemed high and elite, and grossly misunderstood earlier. These changing perceptions and opinions about what is pop and what is high culture are shifty, transient and impermanent. It is difficult to draw a line between what is pop and what is high. Like most things in this world, there are no whites and blacks but shades of gray.

Unfortunately, the structure, however important it may seem to be, also does reveal another aspect of human beings. It reveals that the majority of humans seek to achieve what cannot be, and continue to dream. It is this oppressive hope and ability to dream that helps the larger part of the mankind to desire living. The ones that understand this oppressive reality in a different fashion, and the ones that understand the insignificance of the ideals portrayed by pop culture have to bear something rather sinister. It is perhaps called the curse of pop culture.


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