Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pop Culture-What is it all about?

According to Deanna Sellnow, pop culture is comprised of everyday objects, actions, and events that influence the beliefs and behaviors of people. For example movies or books affecting our attitudes. Barry Brummett said that pop culture is “those systems and artifacts that most people share and that most people know about”. Similarly to Sellnow, Brummett goes on to say that it is “everyday artifacts that influence us and others”. Therefore, pop culture is not “elite culture” or referring to dominant class culture.

It is fitting then, that the founder of “the only graduate program and undergraduate major in popular culture in our galaxy” just looks like your “average Joe”.


Ray Browne, lawn ornament enthusiast, sitcom binger, and rap listener was the frontrunner for popular culture studies. Decades after the establishment of this popular culture movement, they is still controversy that surrounds it.

Browne was one who questioned why we read the books we do, why we watch certain movies, and what makes a good party song popular. He rebelled against the academic norm back when this kind of comparative analysis had been reserved only for high society culture.

David Jacobson, 1999, informs us that, “Browne and his cohorts insisted that there were alternative and significant aesthetics afoot below the esoteric radar of traditional scholars”. It is interesting to note that the same kind of people that thought it not valuable or necessary to study Shakespeare would also trivialize the study of pop culture. Browne, however, believes that the study of pop culture is important because even though it is not “elite” culture, it is still culture and in order for a civilization to flourish and continue, all aspects must be known. He once said in an interview that “increasingly our culture is coming to realize that the proper study of a democratic society is its democratic cultures and practices, all”.

It doesn’t matter whether you are privy to Hemingway or more interested in Madonna, in Browne’s opinion, they are both valid for study and should be treated equally. This is what pop culture studies is all about; being open to new ideas and avenues of culture studies that may only be available to us in the here and now. It is the investigation of the reasons behind the persuasiveness of everyday objects, actions,and events. It helps define each erra’s ideology. Pop culture is important because it is EVERYWHERE.

Pop culture can be anything and affect anyone. Encountering Pop culture literally anywhere is best illustrated in this video (which has over 6 million views).


1. Why wasn’t popular studies established as a legitimate field of study before 1972?

2. Is there any significance as to what was going on in the latter part of the 60’s or early 70’s that played a role in Professor Ray Browne’s founding of the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University?

1 comment:

  1. Fun post. I also spent time considering and writing about Sellnow's definition of pop culture. I am going to say, "I can't imagine" in answer to your question, "Why wasn’t popular studies established as a legitimate field of study before 1972?" I can only guess that many modern fields of academic and social study were still being developed. Pop culture is fascinating, and an understanding of its precepts and theories, I believe, can be a great tool to both professional and strategic communicators.

    Thanks for the post!