Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Why Study Popular Culture

I had an interesting conversation with my mom recently. She was lamenting that she hadn’t been able to instill an attitude of gratitude for the privileged circumstances that my siblings and I grew up in. I disagreed with my mom. I explained that the Friday movie night we held each week as a family exposed us to different movies and allowed us to see different circumstances that other people grow up in.

This week’s readings justify why studying pop culture is important. Specifically, Jacobson argues that studying pop culture can teach people to be critical thinkers. Studying popular culture is meaningful because it gives people, like my siblings and I, a broader view of the world. It causes someone to critically examine their own life and compare their situation to those portrayed on the screen.

When I was 13 years old, my father decided we should watch West Side Story. This movie follows two gangs: the local American “Jets” and the Puerto Rican “Sharks.” At one point the Puerto Rico male gang members complain about living in America, while their Puerto Rican girlfriends brag about how good America can be. When they sing the song “America,” I realized how lucky I was. I didn’t live in an apartment with “twelve in a room” or have “lots of doors slamming in [my] face.” I didn’t have to “get rid of [my] accent” because “life is all right in America, if you’re all white in America.”

Popular culture has the power to make people aware of the world around them. What has popular culture helped you discover?

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