For the last 3 weeks, I have talked about the psychology of pop culture. For this week’s blog, I will create a synthesis by looking at how escapism, conformity, and sense of belonging that occur in pop culture are elements of a bigger picture of pop culture. The underlying theory behind pop culture from a psychological view brings to light the theory that pop culture provides people, not only with a way to escape, and a sense of belonging, or even forces people to conform, whether we like it or not, but that pop culture part of our social identity.
To take a step back, what is pop culture? Pop culture is everywhere and is a part of everything. This is due to the simple fact that pop culture today is no longer an underground wave of comic nerds, and movie buffs trying to uses pop culture just to pass the time or escape from everyday life, like it was in the past, pop culture has become mainstream and is eveuywhere..
Before pop culture became so mainstream, it was an activity that the uneducated lower classes did to pass the time, and escape from the life after the WWI. So even back in the 1910’s, pop culture was a form of escapism from the aftermath of WWI. During these times, pop culture was viewed as mindless activity. It wasn’t until after WWII, did pop culture start to become more mainstream, appealing to the masses. This was seen through comic books, advertisements, music and other forms of mass consumption that occur during those times, as pop culture became a type of propaganda in the form of comic books, posters, and advertisements.
With the example of these images, pop culture became a way to connect with people and strive towards a common goal, and represented a line of conformity where you should fight the good fight, just like the poster and Captain America says. with falls in line with the thinking of pop culture today in terms of a way to connect. But within this line of history it leads back to the idea of conformity, and using pop culture to get people to conform even though it wasn’t a mainstream idea at that time. It still had impact on people’s behaviors and thoughts whether they agreed with it or not.
Today with pop culture as it has become so mainstream and appeals to the masses, it has a much larger effect on us. Pop culture is not just some games, comic books, movies, and TV, that was experienced only by some uneducated people like it was in the past. Pop culture is defined as “cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people” (“the definition of pop culture”, 2017). Pop culture includes areas like food, sports, TV, film, internet, virtual communities, technology, art, tattoos, folk art, and even language. Leading to the synthesized theory that part culture is who we are, it’s our social identity.
Here are a few good examples of how pop culture revolves around our lives, and becomes part of our identity. I am part of a psychology lab here at the University of Lethbridge. In the lab, there is a guy named AJ. One day after talking about cognitive psychology and members of the lab it reminded him of characters from the popular TV show “the office”. So, he decided that he wanted to try to assign each lab member with a character that they portrayed from this TV show. So, you had the Dwight, the Michael Scott, the Meredith, etc…, so what does the Office and their cast of crazy characters have to do with cognitive psychology…? Nothing, which is the point. We try to use characters from random TV shows, movies, and games to try to explain things in our live. Another good example of this would be the Buzzfeed, and other personality quizzes that we all are guilty of taking. We take a personality quiz to determine what Disney princess we are, “which Leo DiCaprio character is our Soulmate?”, “Which Beyoncé hit are you based on your Zodiac sign?” Or even “Order Starbucks and McDonald’s, Then We’ll Guess Your Boob Size quiz”. Leading again to the conclusion that pop culture weaves it’s way into our social identity. Because pop culture is no longer for the uneducated lower classes, it’s for the young, old, rich, poor, everyone, it’s how we relate and connect with the world.
So, to get back to the synthesis of pop culture. What was the point of writing the past three blogs? Pop culture has become our identity and how we relate socially. Pop culture is our social Identity. In the first blog on pop culture I talked about escapism that occurs by using pop culture. we use pop culture as a shield to protect us from the stresses of everyday life. The reason that we can escape using pop culture is because we can relate to the characters that we watch, we identity with them. In my second blog, I discussed conformity that occurs with pop culture consumerism and mass media, it can be difficult, if not nearly impossible not to conform because of the reason that pop culture is everything. pop culture is part of the non-conformers, rebel against popular culture that is consumed by all. but with even the anti-pop culture groups still create their identity around pop culture, and their distaste to it, but it still provides them with an identity which is that they don’t fall victim to popular culture. (it’s kind of a double negative). In my third blog of pop culture, I discussed how pop culture gives us a sense of belonging. how just like we define ourselves by our family and friends, we also define ourselves by what type of pop culture we like and indulge in. A classic example of how pop culture defines us is with the movie the breakfast club, leading to the idea of stereotypes.
We fall victim stereotypes and labels, whether we give the stereotype or live the stereotype. In the Breakfast Club, you have the criminal, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the brain. These stereotypes or labels are defined by what activities, or pop culture we participate in such as what type of music we listen to. with pop culture and a sense of belonging, we also use pop culture to relate to other people, so with the help of pop culture it gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling of being accepted, and helps define, by how we relate to others socially.
These three blogs post lead to a metaphor that Pop culture is like a crazy friend that we just happen to meet and never leaves us alone. It’s there when we need it, and it’s there even we don’t want it to be there. With pop culture being part of our social identity. we use Pop culture to help define who we are, to try to make sense of this crazy world, we use it to shape and create a social identity with other like-minded people, and we use pop culture to find others. Through pop culture, we use it to identify who other people are, try to understand and gain a sense of their personality by means the pop culture. through social media, we look at a person’s Facebook about me page to gauge a sense of who they are by what music they listen to, what activities they do, which unfortunately can often lead to a false sense of social identity, but an identity none the less.
So, there it is, wrapped up and topped off with a nice plaid bow. Pop culture is part of our social identity, and helps define who we are.
For this weeks, featured photo, I have chosen to feature a mixed media piece that I had done in art school a few years ago, called Identity. it features wooden Venetian mask that I imprinted and coloured using prism colours. the gentian mask, I think is a good representation of pop culture. that when you put a mask or even a cosplay costume, it becomes you. Our behaviours and sometimes even thought soon match the mask or costume that you put on, which is similar to what happens with pop culture, that it becomes a part of you.
Black, R. (2006). Language, Culture, and Identity in Online Fanfiction. E-Learning And Digital Media, 3(2), 170-184. http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/elea.2006.3.2.170
Quizzes on BuzzFeed. (2017). Quizzes on BuzzFeed. Retrieved 30 March 2017, from https://www.buzzfeed.com/quizzes
the definition of pop culture. (2017). Dictionary.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017, from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pop–culture
Vanden Berghe, P. (2017). How popular culture defines identity. The Newsletter, (73), 23.
Williams, B. (2008). “What South Park Character Are You?”: Popular Culture, Literacy, and Online Performances of Identity. Computers And Composition, 25(1), 24-39. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2007.09.005