I know, dearest reader, hate is a strong word. I only decided to use it because it corresponds too well to how I feel about certain phenomena popping up within the culture that is pop. But before I go on a grumpy old man rant about how crazy the world is, let me start off on a positive note:
The zoomers are on the right track
It’s not something I admit lightly, yet that was my conclusion the other day as I was rinsing the last fragments of dried mud in the shower after returning from a music festival. It’s been years since I attended one, and it shows. Mostly on my knackered brain and body. However, I got to mingle with several groups of savvy youngsters, and it turns out the IG and TikTok fan club isn’t just about creating online personas to accumulate virtual likes.
Besides a few great sounding bands, the likes of which I didn’t know existed, “the flower children of today” (still) use pop culture to their and society’s advantage. Much more so than boomers or my millennial counterparts did, could, or are able to.
Despite technology providing instantaneous, multilayered sources of information that attract conspiracy theories, fake news and other undesirables, what members of generation Z are doing is exploiting it to invent a zillion novel ways of expressing their thoughts on the human condition. They are fully aware of how precious little time our unsustainable approach has left us with and they’re not going down without a fight. Musicians, bloggers, vloggers, futurist digital artists, even influencers – they all have something to say and they’re yelling it at the top of their lungs. Immensely optimistic stuff!
On the other hand – now this is where it gets gloomy – there are cultural “trends” which are as annoying as they are dangerous. Allow me to elaborate on the ones I love to loathe most.
Negative effects are felt tenfold
Due to the ease of sharing information, unfiltered and unverified, everything bad like sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. can be picked up, internalized and spread much faster by the masses. The various forms of smut, glorification of drug abuse and violence have become alarmingly accessible to the most fragile segments of the population. I definitely view this as a major problem that appears to be growing. We’ve all seen it before, perhaps we don’t need to be bombarded with emotionless relationships, delusional portrayals of success and blockbusters bursting with bloodlust for evermore.
A quick fix of stupid at every turn
I’m not saying that the odd cat video, meme montage or silly one-liner can’t prove amusing or even inspiring, but come on, people, there has to be a limit to ideocracy. Enough with the ghastly reality shows already. Enough with the promotion of the senseless aspects of humanity in the name of entertainment. Also, we’ve had plenty of movie remakes to sustain us well beyond the Planet of the Apes ending. We live in an era of desperately needed environmental and systemic changes, pop culture has the responsibility to correspond accordingly, don’t you think? At least we should pretend it does.
Quality control is of the essence
Yes, it sounds darn right limiting; a contradiction to the intended spirit of pop culture, but let me explain. There’s nothing cultural about sloppiness. From written content with zero regard to grammar or common sense, to lazy artwork intended for nothing more but turning a profit because everything has value now. And music, my sweetheart, what have they done to you? Anyone with the vocabulary of a six-year-old and the musical talent of a struggling penguin can now with the help of a semi-up-to-date autotune mobile app produce their very own White Album. No, they cannot. Please, will someone somewhere pull the plug on money over worth? It’s time mass-production became passé and the industry rethought its investments.
I could go on. I don’t have to. You know what I’m getting at. A great portion of us 21st century pioneers are hungry for culture that’s not only relatable but disruptive. My fellow festival-goers are nodding in agreement, I’m sure. It’s their stage now, and the play must be cast carefully. We’ve got this, pop culture of tomorrow!
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