Why do I put so much energy into talking about pop culture?
Why is a seven-foot-tall cabinet in my Toronto apartment overflowing with TV and movie DVDs? Why do I own close to 800 CDs?
It’s because I love pop culture. It’s where I would escape to as a kid, and it’s also what interests me the most in life.
I spent five years at the University of Toronto studying past cultures. My archaeology (specialist) degree required a bevvy of anthropology course — many of which included social anthro. My English classes (one of my two minors) focused on cultural periods of time: Victorian and Romantic. Culture, past and present has always interested me.
Though many balk at pop culture, or patronize those who select, en masse, what is popular, I find it’s one of the best ways to cross examine what a society is thinking, or how it’s progressing. Pop culture is always the medium to which social change is evoked.
Now, I’m talking about the gossip gutter tripe that is reported on daily by TMZ, mocked with lewd illustrations by Perez Hilton or used as the backdoor entry to a career in broadcast journalism.
No, I’m placing emphasis on the cross-examination of culture. Music, movies, television, fashion, gaming, books, sports and visual art. From the small niches like horror to the mass popularity of pop stars like Justin Bieber, it’s when we stop to think why these fixtures are popular that we reveal answers about our world.
It may be bizarre that I classify sports under pop culture, but really when we look at who our societal heroes are, we can hypothesize that the people who considered of lower social class (actors, models, athletes) have risen to be those who are most regaled.
I find that incredibly fascinating.
Even music genres, and their rise to prominence says something about the zeitgeist of the time. In my pop culture column for the Town Crier, I compared to separate forms of pop culture with each other: Peter Paul Rubens and Playboy.
When my good friend, a former jock for Q107, and I get together, imbibe in a few drinks, we talk for hours about literature and music. Our beefs with CanLit laid bare. Our passion for music — mostly rock — bubbling to the surface. That’s when my mind works overtime.
And a pop culture factors into my writing hugely. When I wrote my “On The Beat” column I’d reference what was playing on my MP3 player, plus throw in a few movie references.
What strikes us all is interesting or entertaining is what pop culture really is. From supermodels to famous horror villains to sports icons. It’s all the same. There’s no need to get uppity, because even in his day, William Shakespeare was nothing more than the pop icon of Elizabethan Britain.