Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Conform to the "Norm" of Pop Culture

I will be the first to admit that I am a pop culture junkie; I actually enjoy knowing what the chart toppers are and which celebrity is dating which. Hal Niedzviecki discusses the ubiquity and omnipotence of pop culture in his essay "Everyone's a Star: Pop Culture Invents the New Conformity." He argues that pop culture penetrates our identity a lot more than we can imagine; we acknowledge the fact that pop culture is virtually everywhere within society, but it affects us in so many different ways. It creates the illusion of perfection, or at least obtainable perfection, within our lifetimes. It forces our hands to mold images of ourselves as relevant to society through the choices we make. We are tricked into believing that we control our individual identities; instead, we are merely taught the illusion of choice. As the author says, we probably will not "meet another human being on the planet who has escaped pop culture's hold on the imagination." (80)

Niedzviecki's idea of "separate autonomous culture" made me think of a distant but omnipotent monarch.

One point that Niedzviecki makes that really struck a chord with me is that pop culture acts as a distant yet very powerful entity in our lives ("separate autonomous culture," 90). It entices us with bright lights and sounds, only to lead us further away from ourselves, our identities. Movie premieres is one of those bright lights that converts me into a media zombie; the glamorous dresses and more-than-perfect bodies aspire me to become like them, the people in the spotlight. However, I am not them... for one, I love to eat! Regardless, there are many times when I find myself tempted to purchase a ridiculously expensive brand name dress, or restrict my diet to water and vitamins. It turns out that becoming like these celebrities is all but impossible for me, for I have yet to look as cool and suave as Angelina Jolie. I get so sucked into the spectacle of pop culture that it becomes impossible to get out - I've paved the path to my own disappointment.

Of course, Niedzviecki's essay is not only relevant to myself. I know that everyone reading this post can relate to the reading in one way or another. It kind of makes me relieved to know that "I'm not the only one." (83)

1 comment:

  1. Kay, thanks for bringing up the Niedzviecki reading. And yes, you're certainly not alone in your pop culture addiction. I wonder, for instance, if anyone in our sections knows someone who has tried out for a "star search" show like Idol, or has tried out himself/herself? My brother once tried to get on MTV's The Real World. And I myself have enjoyed amateur singing and performing for almost twenty years. Those of us who know the highs of audience applause surely understand the appeal!