PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Pop Culture Matters

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's mid-speech swig from a small Poland Spring water bottle during his GOP response generated instant reaction in social media circles and on cable television. (Screenshot)

NPR’s Linda Holmes says people were fascinated by the Marco Rubio water incident because it was an unscripted, spontaneous moment in an otherwise predictable process.(Screenshot)

If you think the life of pop culture writer is fluffy and involves watching movies and listening to music, well, you’re partially right.

But NPR’s pop culture blogger, Linda Holmes says that studying pop culture has an important social function — what we pay attention to in pop culture is how we say what is important to us.

Take the debate over “Duck Dynasty,” whose star was suspended after he made homophobic remarks.

As Holmes writes in her blog, Monkey See:

There are over 750 comments on a post I wrote about [Duck Dynasty], even though the post was really very mild. And in those comments, you will see multiple and profound cultural divides that touch on issues of region, class, religion, race, sexuality, trust, authenticity, and power. Duck Dynasty is not important, but that story exposed that divide and, just as importantly, shows how easy it has become to exploit it.

The utter lack of importance of the underlying subject, in fact, is exactly what tells you how close to the surface and at how high a temperature these conflicts are simmering.

She compares writing about pop culture to studying monkeys.

If you want to understand monkeys you have to study both what they should eat and what they actually eat.

The same is true for people and culture, you need to look at what they should consume and what they actually consume.

“If you want to understand people, like monkeys, you have to understand what they’re actually doing,” Holmes tells Here & Now’Meghna Chakrabarti. “You’re looking horizontally at the society around you and what people are surrounding themselves with, because everybody knows that those things effect the way you think, whether they should or not.”

Guest


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 28 11 Comments

Men Read Mean Tweets At Women And The Video Goes Viral

Two Chicago-area sports journalists gathered the tweets directed at them and asked men to read them to their faces. The result went viral.

April 28 7 Comments

HBO's CEO On Virtual Reality And ‘Sesame Street’

In the second part of our interview with Richard Plepler, he discusses why the premium cable network picked up "Sesame Street."

April 28 Comment

Gloria Estefan Reflects On Her Life Story In ‘On Your Feet!’

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson catches up with the Cuban-born American singer backstage after a performance.

April 27 26 Comments

Economist: NAFTA Benefits Economy Despite Job Losses

Gordon Hanson explains his research on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and why he still supports it.