I have no shame in a lot of things if I’m completely honest and loving pop-culture is something I will never be embarrassed about.
I don’t believe in ‘guilty pleasures’ and I think the phrase ‘sell out’ should have died a death 15 years ago.
This blog post will be mostly relatable to music but can be applied across most of the arts.
I have this very vivid memory of myself sitting in General Studies in College (that’s 16-18 years old for any non-English people reading). It’s a well known sit-off lesson in the UK and so a few class mates and I were sat around chatting. Some of them had been to Leeds festival the previous summer.
I then witnessed what I can only describe as one of the most face-Palm moments of my life so far. This came from a skinny, slightly spotty boy with his wrist adorned with all of the festival wristbands he’d visited the previous summer up and down his arms.
He proceeded to say that he’d seen his once-favourite band Kings of Leon live and that there were thousands of people at their stage and they’d become ‘such sell outs’.
I asked him what he meant by this. He explained that they’d become too popular and no one appreciated their old stuff like he did.
In my mind, surely a band that you loved so much becoming popular and garnering so much attention is a good thing? Surely you want the best for them and to get to become the best of their profession? Which assuming in the music world is becoming number 1 which therefore in extension means becoming more popular and selling more records.
Apparently to some people there is something unattractive about popularity, about pop-culture that is something to be sniffed at, that the uneducated masses flock to because they can’t make their own decisions about their tastes and preferences. This is where songs and films become guilty pleasures. Ever noticed that guilty pleasures are always something really popular?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do see where people like this are coming from. Harry Potter is my baby. I was just the right age when The Philosopher’s Stone was released and was able to grow up absorbing everything that world had to offer.
Now with the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them being released I do feel like my ‘baby’ is being prised from my arms and being thrown to millions of pre-teens who won’t appreciate him. Young-un’s who don’t get it, who don’t know what it was like to grow up with Harry and have him and his world comfort you when you were experiencing some terrible teenage crisis.
But the best thing about pop-culture is getting to share those experiences. Those new fans of Fantastic Beasts will now go back and experience Harry for the first time and that is amazing because I believe it is worth experiencing.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently travelling in Asia for a few months. If I snubbed things that I deemed ‘sell-outs’ and too popular, I would have nothing to talk to any of my new friends in hostels or bars about.
Pop-culture connects you to people. It gives you things to talk about and bond over. I own a deathly hallows necklace (obviously) and you would not believe the amount of conversations that has started.
Don’t get me wrong, supporting independent, less popular, music and film is good and commendable. But then the point I’m trying to make is, when your favourite independent film becomes super famous, don’t abandon it for some hypothetical moral highground. You liked it for a reason, and so do the other thousands or millions of people that are now sharing this experience with you.
That is nothing to be ashamed about. Pop-culture is amazing and becomes a comment on our society at the time and a reflection of our shared interests and lives.
Embrace shitty pop music and the next big blockbuster- it’ll at least give you something to discuss when you’re next at the pub that’s for sure!