Pop Culture Thoughts and Findings
A few days ago I was able to visit a couple of important pop culture establishments in the downtown core of Toronto with 27 friends for a class on Pop Culture and Media. What I was able to observe was quite facinating, frustration and hopeful. Here are some of my thoughts based on our day/night together and how pop culture affects us:
- People don't know what they want until people tell them: While watching a live taping of George Strombolopoulos and watching him host a Q&A afterwards, it was interesting to hear him openly criticize today's popular culture landscape. He mentioned how Much Music, a former employers of his, changed so dramatically over the years that he in good conscious could no longer stay. The powers that were decided to move from adding to culture to relating to a younger demographic, insulting intelligence and hurting youth. And because they changed their content, people then wanted THAT as opposed to what they were getting. No one really wanted to be a 15 minute star UNTIL they saw reality 15 minute stars.
- Stars have souls: Again while watching Strombo, two interviews (Michael C. Hall and Joseph Gordon-Levett) touched on topics that were more than just on their normal project pushing. Hall touched on Spirituality and his own views of life and death, based on his current role as Dexter (a murderer) and former role on Six Feet Under as the manager or a funeral home. Gordon-Levett spoke about the objectivication of women and male responsibility on that fact. This then led George to share his thoughts on the matter as well on how TV should push the audience to be better while talking about how he needs to be a better example to young men. These famous people have thoughts and feelings. Punch them and they bleed.
- Culture isn't a person but it is fed by people: We often pray and hate on culture like it has a soul. It is souless, like a picture or building. The soul is provided by people who create said things. As we walked through the Much Music building, I couldn't help but think that shows like "Teen Mom" "New Much Live" and more are made by 40+ year olds who fully decide what is popular or not. These same people decide that it is the year of THIS star, THAT song and THIS movie. Culture happens everywhere; jobs, homes, families, religious organization and rarely are they made by everyone. Rather, they are facilitated by the main influencers WITHIN said culture. Much Music is control not by the VJs (in fact, learning from George during his Q&A, the VJ has no power when it comes to programming or ideas...they are willing puppets on a string...). It is the boss people on the upper floor that need to experience a 'change of heart'.
- Some of the best films are the ones no one sees: If you haven't seen Fruitvale Station, you need to. See past the language and see the story of tragedy from the eyes of 22 year old conflicted man. This young man is like many young adults of different nationalities (but mainly minorities) in North America, hoping to do right in world of wrongs and sadly getting the dead end of the stick. We waste money on many popcorn films that add nothing, but this film, among so many others, will never get into the hands of the people.
- Injustice happens everywhere everyday: In Fruitvale Station, a young man is singled out and killed in tragic fashion. Even in retelling it on blog, my eyes water and my breathing gets short because what we saw on screen actually happened in Oakland on January 1st 2009. And all over the world, children are placed in broken homes and classrooms, minorities are mistreated, women are kidnapped and sold for sexual sport. Meanwhile, I can't wait for the iPhone 5S and to watch whatever. Not saying that the excitement for a gadget is wrong (This is not one of those type of blogs) or misguided but its crazy where my focus is while this happens.
- People go Gaga for stars: At the Man of Tai Chi premiere, it was crazy to see a woman go out of her way to buy balloons for Keanu Reeves's birthday to hope that he would take them into his limo. Like why would he do that? And she kept on whining about it..."Please take them! Look over hereeeeeeeee!" I also met someone who spent the entire day and night trying to find stars downtown. I just thought that it was kind of funny.
- Culture changes one person at time. Conversations about what you listen to will convict you in one way or another. Ditto for movies, dating, art...you name it. And then your convos with someone else will change someone else's perspective. Put it this way: Many people I know love the Toronto Maple Leafs but hate the fact that the tickets are expensive but the on-ice product isn't great. Their collective thoughts are, "We need a new GM/President/Whatever." But that won't change the culture of a team built to make money off of brokenhearted fans. Nope, what'll change them is each fan saying no more to buying, watching and supporting, THEN telling someone else to do the same thing. Want better Leafs? Boycott 'em (imagine an empty ACC on opening day...). Want to change culture, start with you and work your way through your contact list.