In my short time studying journalism, there’s always the question of “What do you plan on doing with that after college,” to which I reply something along the lines of an internship or something concerning lifestyle writing. Every time I mention lifestyle or that I enjoy writing about, something other than politics, I feel as though I’m given a look that says, “Oh, you want to be one of those journalists?” So, while politics are important and money makes the world go around, I don’t think people understand how influential pop culture, such as music, and television, and lifestyle writing are to people.
Imagine a new major movie being released and there was no one to review the movie. At first glance, it seems to be a non-issue and those who really want to see it will. However, digging deeper, one can see how the lack of discussion surrounding the movie led to little revenue, which then led the studio to no longer finance movies of that similar storyline. Now this may be a dramatic scenario, but it holds more truth and reality than one may think. If this movie showed a storyline of a young girl who had it all but still suffered from mental illness, and those storylines were no longer being told, what do all those people who related to that young girl do?
Gale, an educational publishing company under Cengage, defines popular culture as a culture that’s consumed by a majority of a society’s population rather than just an educated elite. Gale goes on to contrast pop culture with folk culture, a more traditional mindset, and high culture, which is practiced by the “elites” of society focusing on fine art. Explaining how pop culture uses psychology to bring out an emotional response out of its participants, the company mentions how pop culture is easily associated with “commercial culture.” However, towards the end of their definition, Gale comes to explain how overall pop culture is something that brings people together through a unifying emotional bond.
However there are many who think that pop culture is just big companies trying to brainwash people into buying or believing their products. In a Psychology Today article Jim Taylor Ph. D., a published author within the field, explains that “90% of what is considered popular culture is churned out by corporations … with the sole purpose … that we can be converted into voracious consumers.” With this view, Taylor shows how the term of pop culture has changed over the years and its affiliation with consumers and the mass media. While also believing that we are what we consume, Taylor references a comment from a previous article that explains a metaphor comparing pop culture to fast food and its unhealthy nature.
The only glimmer of hope within Taylor’s article is when he explains how an “authentic” shared experience within society could become the new pop culture. “Collectively, a popular culture that is an expression of a society’s shared experiences has essential value and a beneficial function to that society,” Taylor writes. The reason I call this hope is because to many, this is what pop culture has always been. Sharing the experience seen in a movie, or from a song and then expressing that by paying more attention to it to where it becomes “popular,” has been a role society has played for a long time.
Now I’m not saying to watch a hundred movies and not pay any attention to world news or politics, because those still play a strong role in the society we live in. I’m conveying the point that the need to downplay a movie review or hold back criticism of an outfit can become detrimental to the parts of society that little to anyone notices yet still have an impact. Overall journalism is about stories, both fun and serious, and without a balance between the two, society can crumble before us.