Archive by Author

The Newest Member of Pop Culture

28 Apr

If The Hunger Games is not classified as a part of the pop culture movement then I do not know what is. My personal opinion of something to be able to have the label as “pop culture” is simply a piece of work that is attractive to the modern culture that might not be as attractive to the high culture era. In addition, I also believe that popularity and number of views has a lot to do with the classifying something as pop culture.

 The Hunger Games is predominantly aimed towards the young adult population and they do a fantastic job of doing so if I do say so myself. They include a disturbing but intriguing plot based on kids killing other kids if they wish to survive. I believe this type of plot line is what interests all of the young adults in today’s society because it allows them to use their imagination by thinking, “Wow. What if I lived in a world like that?” Or maybe they might think, “Wow. What would I do if I had to kill someone I knew just to survive?” This book’s plotline would most definitely not be accepted in a high culture type atmosphere due to the whole ‘kids killing kids’ concept.

Another reason as to why this book is attractive to today’s modern culture is because of its relevance to some of the struggles we face today. Oftentimes today, especially with the 2012 Presidential election approaching, we see the dramatic tension and interaction between the rich and the poor. In the book, it portrays that people without money have an incredible disadvantage in life, yet those who are wealthy are generally bystanders and don’t give a crap about the poor’s struggles or survival.

On a different note, I would also label this book as far on the pop culture spectrum as possible because of its popularity in general. I have never seen so much hype about a book/movie. It seemed more popular than Twilight because both guys and girls went and saw it, while Twilight generally seemed to be seen by mostly girls. It lead the box office for a substantial amount of time to show the number of views just kept increasing and increasing. The popularity and incredible amount of buzz the book and movie produced has a lot to do with its classification as a pop culture piece of work.

When it comes to classifying The Hunger Games as either high culture or pop culture, it is without a doubt a member of pop culture. The way it attracts itself to today’s modern society can easily back that statement up. It allows viewers to imagine themselves in a fictional world yet conveying certain themes that are present in today’s world.

My Journey Through Pop Culture

28 Apr

With the topic of this English class being about perception of popular culture, I must say that from beginning to end my entire view has changed a little bit on pop culture. Through readings from Quicksilver, Hunger Games, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and The Sandman or from playing a video game like Assassin’s Creed 2, or from watching music videos, all of these have two things that jumps out to me: creativity and variability. If I have learned one thing about popular culture this semester, it is that works can be adapted into many different mediums for many different purposes.

A book that jumps to mind that is a very creative representation of pop culture is Quicksilver. Neal Stephenson uses his creativity to kind of bring back the scientific and mathematical discovery era in a fictional fashion. The book has a great deal to do with the discovery of Calculus, particularly included the controversy over who actually invented it. Stephenson accurately displayed certain concepts but included minor fictional tweaks. Most notably was the made-up school called “Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technological Arts”.

Another book that enhanced my view about pop culture is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This book had a lot to do with the present’s relationship to the past. By conveying this, Clarke used the past English culture and inserted the idea of magic actually working back then. In addition, this book also proved to me that pop culture pieces of work don’t have to be short in length by any means. Both this book and Quicksilver are amongst the longest books I have read in a while, since the last Harry Potter book was released to be exact. I will no longer associate long works with just high culture, I can guarantee that.

The piece of work that really proved something to me though was the video game Assassin’s Creed 2. This was the perfect example of a pop culture adaptation. The game took aspects of Italian history and produced an educating and riveting video game simultaneously. I must admit that while playing this game for the time I was not only entertained by the non-stop violence and action, but I did learn a lot about certain things about Italian culture that I never learned in past history classes. Moreover, I honestly can’t remember the last video game I enjoyed playing but also learning something valuable at the same time. I think these game producers are really evolving the purpose of video games and proving the whole “video games are solely for entertainment” stereotype wrong.

Before coming into the class and studying any pieces of work, my understanding of pop culture was simply just making material more modernized so that the work would be accepted in the modern day culture. While that understanding still remains true, I have gained a much further understanding on top of that. I did this by looking much deeper into the works and grasping the concepts that are there and comparing them to the previous work or material that it derived from.

Culture War: Old vs. Young and Their Gadgets

2 Mar

Upon reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, I found an aspect in The Hunt to be very interesting that dealt with a Grandfather who was trying to tell a story to his granddaughter but she was too preoccupied by wanting to watch a television show instead. This situation is extremely appealing because it reminds me of today’s society now more than ever. Being a bit of a generalist, I think there seems as if there is a culture war going on between old and young people due to the technological impact we’ve had over the past decade and a half.

Too many times I have heard parents and grandparents say to kids, “Put your phone up and enjoy the company”. I lost count as to how many times my granddad said that at Christmas this past year. And just the other day I witnessed a mom yelling at her son to put his little Gameboy up while they were in the car? Sure it can be irritating sometimes trying to have a conversation with others when they’re multitasking on their little gadgets, but does the older generation really understand how addicting these things are? Perhaps some of it is due to the unfamiliarity our older generation has with the emerging technology. While the young population is playing on their smartphones, iPads, tablets, and iPods, older people are sweating on how to even turn them on or how to even pronounce the name.

Personally, I think the main reason grandparents and older parents get so agitated with children as they use their little gadgets is because the older people feel less needed. In recent years, children always engaged in conversation with their parents and grandparents asking about this, that, and the other in order to seek answers about certain things. Nowadays, we don’t see that as often because of all the involvement children have with the gadgets and the information it can provide to them. It is indeed upsetting to see the wisdom of the older people not be in as much effect anymore, but that’s reality. The society is evolving and being taken over with the new technology.

This can most definitely be considered somewhat of a culture war because of the drastic evolvement. Grandparents seemingly don’t like the direction these gadgets are heading us towards where children and young adults want more and more of them and hate to have to put them away when being asked to because of the heavy addiction. It’s the old versus the young and their gadgets. Game on!

As Neil Gaiman incorporated this scene of the grandfather and his granddaughter, it can easily be seen that he’s also agreeing that the younger people are very attached to their technology and the older generation aren’t appreciating it very much as they try to share some of their wisdom. Gaiman should place this on an even bigger stage to present this to the public because it is something that needs to be talked about before these emerging gadgets take over even more and possibly tear apart a family.

Quicksilver is Poppin’ with A High

10 Feb

Determining whether or not Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver is strictly “High Culture” or “Pop Culture” can be difficult; therefore it is simple a combination of each. I would have to say that Stephenson does a great job of being effective by telling a story combining two very different concepts. He portrays it in terms of “Pop Culture” by providing insights to our modern world with some dry humor and tweaks in order to provide more entertainment and desire for readers. On the contrary, Stephenson adds in “High Culture” aspects by adequately including historical figures and references.

Quicksilver has numerous amounts of historically accurate concepts that tend to make it seem very “High Culture”, beginning with extremely important figures in the calculus world: Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. He also includes other recognizable characters that have had an enormous impact on human culture like Ben Franklin.  Furthermore, Stephenson also extensively mentions the Royal Society and Newton’s Presidential role.  He also includes the whole “Leibniz stole calculus from Newton” dispute. As one can note, Stephenson applied several “High Culture” ideas and references to make the read seem more realistic and less fictitious. However, not everything was entirely and strictly accurate, thus giving it a pop cultural twist.

Other than the splurges of “High Culture” Stephenson provides, everything else in Quicksilver should be categorized as “Pop Culture”.  The book itself is an adaptation of history dealing with math and science. Being an adaptation, it characterizes the book in pop cultural manner. Stephenson provides some tweaks here and there in terms of history to make put a little thrill to the story plot. For example, the book starts off by claiming a man by the name of Dr. Daniel Waterhouse founded “The Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologikal Arts” in the 18th century. However in reality, Stephenson is referring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was actually not even founded until the 19th century in 1861. Little tweaks like this Stephenson carried through with made things feel more pop cultural thus more enticing to read in a modern society like today.

Stephenson’s reasoning and purpose for adding a pop cultural feel with some “High Culture” values is most likely to take something completely boring (calculus) and make it more enjoying. Rather than presenting these scientific and mathematical topics like an encyclopedia would, Stephenson spices it up to make it more approachable for the reader. As a result, readers find Stephenson’s work so appealing they want more, causing sequels to take place and ultimately earning him tons of money.

To sum up, Quicksilver cannot be definitively proclaimed as just either “High Culture” or “Pop Culture”. Instead, Neal Stephenson used his creativity when publishing the book by mixing the two. He used historical people and references along with a huge controversial topic in history and used “Pop Culture” twists to tell a rather interesting and unique story.

Comedies Have Messages Too

27 Jan

By: Tim Byerly

Step Brothers is a movie that is extremely undervalued due to its pop culture characteristics. It’s widely known as one of Will Ferrell’s finest comedies as he deals with his new step brother, Dale, while they move in and live together with their newly married parents (who were previously divorced). They both are 40 years old living with their parents, yet they act as juveniles. With that being said, all of the glory of this film comes from their obvious immaturity, yet there is more to be valued than just the outrageous, crude humor that more viewers need to be able to see. This movie possesses real life problems that are present now more than ever before: marital problems, blended families, and children and their elongated dependency on their parents.

With a deeper look into Step Brothers, one can see that producer is portraying the whole idea of the increase in marital problems in America. The producer seems to convey that with an increase in marital problems it will lead to a divorce (like Brennan and Dale’s mom and dad before they got married). A perfect example in the film that deals with marital problems is Brennan’s sister-in-law Alice. She is unhappy and unsatisfied with her marriage with Derek (Brennan’s biological brother), and one can argue that she married Derek for the wrong reasons, most evidently for money. This is a great lesson to teach viewers not to be “gold diggers” or simply not to marry for wrong reasons.

On another note, it’s considerably difficult for children to begin the blending process of a “new” family and to be comfortable living with their new step brother and/or sister, especially the older the children are. In the film, Brennan and Dale constantly fight, whine, and do childish things (at the age of 40 keep in mind). These types of events continue all throughout the movie; however, the same concept is still there involving the troublesome of divorce leading to dysfunctional family blending and combination.

The childish actions by step brothers Brennan and Dale demonstrate the next real life problem present in the movie that is overshadowed by all of the humor. Nowadays, it seems as if kids are becoming more dependent on their parents than in previous years. It is custom for a teenager to turn 18 and move out of the house to begin their individual life. That is not the case in Step Brothers. Brennan and Dale are both 40 years old and living with their parents and unemployed. Perhaps director Adam McKay is trying to convey to this pop culture world that parents need to “cut the umbilical cord” sooner rather than later for the child’s well-being in the future. Parents need to stop babying their children and make them go out, get a job, and get prepared for the real world for when their mommy and daddy are no longer around.

Movies with never-ending humor are great and entertaining, I assure you of that. However, oftentimes humor can cause viewers to stray from themes intended, or even unintended, by the producer. Step Brothers is a great representation of how elementary themes can be found within the most absurd comedies. However these themes can be lost with an excessive amount of humor. This goes to show that one can learn valuable lessons from pop culture movies with a deeper look into the movie.