Pop culture is much more multi-faceted than people notice when they’re looking at the surface, which, admit it, most of us do. Let’s look at that surface for a second, and we see Miley Cyrus, former sweet girl turned heathen, at least according to TMZ and magazines. I mean, take a look at her on the most recent cover of Cosmopolitan. She’s embracing her sexuality, and we all know that’s a way to sell magazines. Whether or not this is her, or just a pop culture construct, who knows? But at least now, in this day and age, we can ask ourselves that question and there are numerous bloggers out there discussing it, breaking it down for our consumption. When I was growing up, that’s all we had were the magazines and the soundbites from the stars in question to go on, so we believed it more often than not, this spin they put on themselves and on their issues. Lindsay Lohan was probably the first star to be truly exposed by the “new” media for her shift from squeaky clean to bad girl, then Britney Spears (but she redeemed herself), and on down to “little” Miley.
“His name became synonymous with child stars gone wrong.”
Todd Bridges. When I typed that name, a ton of images and thoughts went through my head, but some of you reading this are probably going, “Who the heck is that?” Of course, in this day and age, you could Bing his name and get the lowdown in a hurry, but if you found yourself asking the question the odds are you weren’t alive in the 1980s. His name became synonymous with child stars gone wrong, the pressures of fame, everything we think about when we consider Miss Lohan, or even Little Miss Cyrus. No, there were no nude pictures of him out there, and there was no Page 6 to chronicle his fall from grace, but still the public had hung him out to dry long before he even went to jail. Now, I’m not saying Todd Bridges was an angel, but I am saying we never heard the whole story. There just wasn’t the machine out there like it is now to churn out every tidbit related to him. We only heard the simplest explanations and we went with them. We had to.
“You might want to avoid it, but pop culture is transcendent.”
Then there are the people who swear they never get caught up in all the drama, the people who don’t know the names of all the Kardashians, the people who think Paris and Perez Hilton are probably sisters, judging from their last names. These people actively try their best to avoid pop culture. The problem is that it tends to seep in, especially in our society. You might want to avoid it, but eventually you’ll find out that every Kardashian has a first name starting with “K,” and that Perez has no familial connection to Paris. And you might not even have a Facebook, Twitter, or goodreads account, thinking you’re staying out of the loop, but everyone has contact with other people. If they’re connected, you’re connected. It’s as clear as black and white. Pop culture is transcendent. I never wanted to hear Justin Bieber, but I had no choice in the matter. Not like the old days, when if I didn’t feel like hearing a Tiffany song, all I had to do was turn off the radio. The media is quite invasive, and too many people get caught up in its web (pun intended).
But what about those people who lived through a time period when something was huge, but they missed it? How does that happen? I was talking to two separate people about this same topic over the past week, and both of them happen to be older than I am. Neither of them remembered the Thundercats, or know who Geri Halliwell is, or have a working knowledge of Gumby and Pokey. These are all specific pop culture references that were pretty big in their time periods with a very specific portion of people. If you were a young boy in the 1980s you knew that the Thundercats were cartoon heroes led by Lionel, who had a really funky sword. If you are British and you were of thinking age in 1997 you would definitely recognize the real name of Ginger Spice, and Gumby and Pokey are 1970s claymation icons. If you’re one of the people who had no clue who either of these three were, congratulations to you because you lived through a time when the media wasn’t nearly as prevalent and invasive as it is now.
“This presupposes everything is everybody’s business, which it isn’t.”
And you don’t have to know everything about everyone. That’s one thing the media doesn’t tell you. They want you to believe that you have to know it, you have it to know it yesterday, and you have to get it from them. This presupposes everything is everybody’s business, which it isn’t. That’s the price of fame, though, and the price gets higher every time some new type of media is introduced to society. Now we have celebrity sex tapes you can download for free, or videos of celebrities doing unspeakable things on youTube. Amazingly enough, with the types of media we have now, anyone can be a mini-celebrity and have their lives exposed. If enough people think it’s funny, or interesting, you too can get 1.5 million hits on youTube for your video of a cat playing a banjo. We’ve created a monster, and we keep feeding it.
So, if you lived through a pop culture phenomenon and you don’t remember it, the minority is getting even smaller. Appreciate it while you can.