STORY BY NATALIE LARIMER
Pop culture has a huge impact on people’s lives. Whether it be music, movies, books, or any other way of communicating ideas, pop culture surrounds everything we are exposed to.
However simple the topic may seem, it gets complicated in how it’s both reflecting the popular items in our culture, but also creating them.
“Pop culture affects our lives because it both shows what we think about our culture and it gives us ways to think about our culture,” junior Rhetoric and LPS major Beth Macnab said. “So it’s both creating and perpetuating our ideologies.”
Social media is a huge part of our generation’s pop culture footprint.
“When you go onto Twitter and start tweeting, you find that after a while you discover the ‘flavor’ of what a tweet is to be like,” rhetoric and pop culture professor Joan McAlister said. “You’re influenced by the rhetoric of that medium but at the same time you’re putting stuff on there.”
There are many things we learn from pop culture, but it’s interesting to look at how much it changes us as a society.
“As a rhetorician, I look at how popular culture persuades and how it creates points of identification,” McAlister said. “I believe that there are cultural scripts that we see from a very young age that we use to understand human relations and ourselves.”
Pop culture is generally perceived as being a good thing, as it does historicize how our society thinks and acts. But some people have a different opinion.
“Pop culture makes us lazy,” junior LPS major Anthony Pawnell said. “It gives us a small piece of what culture is and we take it as the whole piece. So like, we see hip-hop and we’re like ‘Oh okay cool. Hip-hop. That’s what black people do. That’s all black people do is hip-hop.’”
Particular aspects of pop culture have a major effect on people, especially movies. “American Sniper” was an incredibly influential movie that came out recently, and it caused a lot of controversy. Because the main character was a war hero, it created a strict line dividing people who approved of the movie’s message and those who didn’t.
“I think movies give people a certain perspective,” Pawnell said. “It all depends on how people are attached to that perspective because some people will take that perspective as capital-T Truth instead of taking it as one perspective and adding it on to other perspectives of that same situation. Films, their power is in spreading that one perspective into so many people because there could be one person who has a very different perspective but we don’t get that story because there wasn’t a movie made about them.”
Pop culture is a very complicated subject that we all just seem to understand.
“We sort of write ourselves into these stories and write these stories into our lives,” McAlister said. “You still will take your own biases about how you will perceive another culture.”