Since the invention of television, mass marketing, and focus groups (to name a few social forces) the major media companies in America have made it standard operating procedure to produce content that appeals to the largest number of people (or as the media industry calls us, “consumers”). On one level this is just good business sense. Entertainment is a product that’s created to sell for a profit. Every business wants to sell as much of their product as they can in order to make as much money as possible. So the logical thing to do is to make your product marketable to the widest audience possible.
In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with this. Where I find fault is the mainstream media’s execution of this concept. Decades ago they started scientifically documenting that, while everyone has their own, unique beliefs, everyone also has the same basic desires and psychological tendencies. They also realized and studied the fact that since everyone has differing beliefs, anytime your product advocates any belief it will disenfranchise some segment of your audience. Therefore, the best way to avoid alienating your audience is to never advocate any beliefs other than the most basic, vague, non-offensive, non-committal ideas possible.
On one hand, this gives us all something we can agree upon in a world torn apart by our differences. On the other hand, it doesn’t leave us with anything of substance either. Pop Culture is brain candy, time filler, a screen-saver for real life. Even that in and of itself wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Our jobs are hard. Our responsibilities are demanding. Our minds are scrambled by the frequency and intensity of information being bombarded at us all day. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a break. The problem is that the vast majority of the content on the television, radio and in print is substanceless entertainment. And you can’t get away from it. Pop Culture is mainstream culture. The mainstream is called the mainstream because it’s the majority.
When the majority of the information you process day in and day out is white noise you end up mentally deafened by the silence. Spend enough time in the silence and you forget that life was ever (or could ever) be any different. So you accept the silence as the norm, and when you are faced with real, hard information you’re likely to view it (from your mentally weakened perspective) as cumbersome, tedious, pretentious and irrelevant.
The danger in Pop Culture isn’t that it’s inherently evil and will turn you into a maniacal, baby-eating monster after watching one prime time sitcom. Even heroin won’t turn you into a maniacal, baby-eating monster after one hit. But once you’ve felt the soft, warm, intoxicating, addicting embrace you’ll want to go back to that place anytime life gets hard, and the more time you spend in that honey trap the less time you spend facing the real world.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Mozart wasn’t born a genius. Talent is cumulative. Genius is cumulative. Sanity is cumulative. Becoming the person you’re capable of being, having the mind you’re capable of having, and building the world you’re capable of building takes decades of daily practice and refinement. When you spend 2-5 hours every night zoning out in front of the same clinically unintelligent stimulus you irrevocably wipe away your potential, and by the time you reach old age (when your mind should finally be reaching the level of genius) all you’ll be is exactly what you put your mind to: nothing.
To make matters worse, all those years you were lulled into that cozy dream state by the flashing lights in your living room and the pulsating music in your car, the real world problems that made you want to seek shelter in a movie theater never went away. In fact, since the majority of the population has been ignoring those problems and pretending they were Jedi Knights in space, those problems have only compounded. And look where’s it’s gotten society: on the verge of collapse. Seriously, if television and radio had been used to their full potential as educational tools ever since they were invented and we had all devoted ourselves to improving our minds instead of glazing them over we would literally be colonizing Mars right now. We certainly wouldn’t be worrying about the eco-system collapsing from the careless destruction wrought on it by mass consumerism.
Is there hope for the world? Well, what is the world? The world is society, and society is made up of individuals. If we’re to save the world then every individual needs to stop numbing their minds with Pop Culture and dedicate themselves to using the majority of their free time to improving themselves. And being individuals, we can’t make anyone else’s decisions for them or expect anyone else to take responsibility for our decisions. The world isn’t yours to change, but you are yours to change. The choice is yours. Boycott Pop Culture and play your role inactively improving your mind (and thus the world) or embrace Pop Culture and continue playing your passive role in the decline of your mind (and thus the world).
However you felt about this post, you may feel similarly about these:
- 10 signs you’re a sheeple
- How pop culture warps our perception of reality
- Milestones in the decline of American pop culture
- The world won’t get better until you stop being a vidiot
- Why the movie, “Brave” made me facepalm and Hollywood needs an intervention
- Why “Tomorrowland” made me facepalm
- Why did “Full House” and “Saved by the Bell” exist?
- 6 reasons not to let your children read/watch Twilight
- 5 reasons why I hate Starbucks
- Cost/benefit analysis of internet trolling
- You reveal how stupid you are when you type “LOL”
- We need to talk about this pants situation.
- 13 things I won’t say
- Things I wish someone would invent