November 24, 2001 at 9:50 pm #44778
To what extent do you think what is popular reflects on our society as a whole?
For example – do you think the fact people buy untalented Britney Spears albums and watch untalented Freddie Prinze Jr.’s movies indicates that our society as a whole favours physical beauty over inner beauty? Or does it indicate we’re led by the nose by the media?
Discuss what a "celebrity" is to you, why people are celebrities, and what you think who we chose as celebrities says about us.
Also, discuss what the heart of the art forms we most appreciate (pop. movies, music, TV) says about us.
This should be a good topic. [Also, if you know any gay celebrities, we have a topic for that too.]November 24, 2001 at 11:04 pm #66371
On the whole we as a culture like things that are easy. Britney Spears’ music is easy. Freddy’s movies are easy. They don’t challange you, don’t make you think too hard, don’t make you feel too much. It’s easier to give your kid a lunchables pack for lunch, rather than making a sandwich, cutting up some veggies and fruit. even if it tastes like shit and isn’t nutricious, oscar meyer tells us its lunch, so its easier. a lot of pop culture is like the lunchable: its easy to digest but ultimately leaves you hungry and malnourished. But if you consume lots and lots of lunchables you can keep the hunger at bay.
The media doesn’t so much lead us by the nose, as much as they filter out the things that are too tricky or challenging. much better to watch Dawson’s Creek than that pesky michael moore’s T.V. Nation. That said, there is nothing wrong with watching Dawson’s creek or listening to a Britney record, just like there’s nothing wrong with chowing some ez cheese or a toaster strudel from time to time. The question becomes how much of your diet consists of these kinds of things. If you are a well rounded person then you cultural diet will be more diverse. you may have some interests and tastes that are extremely challenging and some guilty pleasures and then a whole bunch of the good stuff in between.
Take J’s music for example it’s not as musically challenging as a piece by coltrane or debussy, but it certainly isn’t O-town or LFO. It challenges, excites, makes you react and feel. In short its the good stuff in the middle.
Something that has artistic value, can be judged on many levels on enjoyed more than just a couple of times. I know this is a fairly mundane description but thinking about this question even in these simplistic terms we can start to quickly see the difference between something with at least some artistic merit and something that was created as a safe commodity.
As far as what culture says about the individual, I think that people with certain values and priorities in life tend to gravitate towards certain types of music/literature/film etc. I don’t think these things define the person as much as they often reflect his/her world/life view.
losing my point
so I’ll take the easy way out and listen to some britney and munch on some peperoni lunchables.
[img]images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img] MatNovember 24, 2001 at 11:15 pm #66372
I think people are always looking for an escape, and they get that escape by watching other people’s lives. Its a grass is always greener situation.
Funny thing is, celebraties are really just living everyday lives, they just happen to be in people magazine
[img]http://www.engrish.com/images/recentdiscoveries/horny.jpg[/img]November 25, 2001 at 12:02 am #66373
Matty, I agree, you know alot. Anyone who drops a reference to a Michael Moore work is cultured IMHO.
What, though, do you think it says about us that a great majority of our culture no nothing other then lunchable?November 25, 2001 at 6:44 am #66374
I agree with most of your points, except the part about J’s music being "in the middle". I understand that it was a comment on musical complexity, not skill or appeal, but his music has been too big & important & integral in my life to be categorized that way.
<blockquote><font>quoteQuote:Discuss what a "celebrity" is to you, why people are celebrities, and what you think who we chose as celebrities says about us.
It’s interesting to see who gets "celebrated" in our society. My thought is that people who achieve fame in either the movie industry or the music industry are people who A) have connections, or B) have proved their marketability (even though they may lack talent). Celebrity is not achieved, it is designated. Big movie houses, big record labels, and big media (owned by big corporations) do the honors.
<blockquote><font>quoteQuote:I think people are always looking for an escape, and they get that escape by watching other people’s lives.
I think there’s some truth in that. I think that people are basically just afraid to become introspective; to question their tastes and beliefs and values. Americana is a very cushy culture; people often prefer to be ignorant and happy than educated and multi-mooded. If people started to question themselves and their upbringings, and acknowledge their inherent complex nature, you would have anarchy, or at least a little cultural revolution. And no one really wants to be bothered with that.
Unfortunately, our society places a very high value on money. You can see it in the way Dubya has encouraged us to express our patriotism by spending money, as if my identity as an American were defined solely by my ability to earn and spend capital.
As long as people are paying the bills, putting food on the table, and buying Playstation cartridges for the kiddies, they are content. Perhaps not as enriched or happy or well-rounded as they could potentially be, but content. We have our freedom (supposedly), we’re providing for our families, what else do we need? Why do we need independent film, symposiums on race, Fugazi records? Why stir up the shit when it’s not bothering anyone just sitting there stinkin’ on the sidewalk? Give me good clean American fun; fresh faced young white adults making sappy movies with predictable storylines and not-too-complex dialogue or emotion. It’s what I’m used to. Comfort food.
Bland music and bland movies also set a (seemingly) reasonable standard for people, as far as what they should/can aspire to. You just have to look good and play by the rules; how hard can that be? Don’t have to be smart, just crafty enough to get the girl/land the career/kill the bad guy. Not to mention all the "reality tv" crap that teaches people that it’s okay to be manipulative, conniving, dishonest, and cruel if the prize is $1 mil.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but damn if the government doesn’t have a hand in keeping the American public dumb.
(Jaron, I can’t believe you came to California & didn’t tell me. I’ll avenge that…be sure of it… [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] )November 25, 2001 at 4:17 pm #66375
You made some great points. I understand the push to spend right now to help bolster the acconomy, but I also agree with you that our culture is so hell bent on consumption. Why do you think our culture focuses so much time and effort on work because it’s necessary in order to consume. too bad really, cause I think there are things more fun than shopping or working all the time.
I figured my point on J’s music being in the middle would be misinterpreted, because It was poorly explained so I’ll try again. For me, when listening to a really complex piece of music — say a really out there John Coltrane tune or a very complex classical piece or even some very technical rock — I can appreciate it on an intelectual level, respect its complexity and recognize it as a sophisticated representation of art. However it may do nothing for me on an emotional level. Personally, I like the middle ground. Just cause it’s in the middle doesn’t mean it isn’t original, complex and artistic. I love Dinosaur Jr’s music, it has an emotional effect that not many others elicit.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that like the oreo and eclair: The good stuff is in the middle.
rosa I hope I expressed my point better, not sure I succeeded.
p.s. spell check has ruined me, I can’t seem to spelllll at all anymore
[ November 25, 2001: Message edited by: Matty Qui-9 ]</p>November 25, 2001 at 5:16 pm #66376
What exactly is a lunchable?
What exactly is that horny remover good for and why is the girl rubbing it against her elbow?
Am I genuinely interested in this or am I just too sleep deprived to care about more important stuff?
How can "very technical rock" and "a sophisticated representation of art" be used in the same sentence without sarcasm?November 25, 2001 at 5:16 pm #66377
The reason people listen to crummy music is because they aren’t exposed to better music. I honestly think that the media treated the Dead Kennedys or Dinosaur Jr. the same way they treated Britney, the kids would buy it.November 25, 2001 at 6:35 pm #66378
There’s this story that Kurt Vonnegut wrote, a futursitic tale where all the ordinary citizens wear special headsets that keep their brains at a steady, mediocre level of intelligence. They are controlled by a small group of people who live, headset-free, in a big compound, having forfeited their former lives so that they could be in charge. Whorehouses are replaced by Thought houses; instead of paying for sex, you pay a girl to play chess with you and read great texts on philosophy.
Anyone remember the name of that? It escapes me at the moment.
<blockquote><font>quoteQuote:Also, discuss what the heart of the art forms we most appreciate (pop. movies, music, TV) says about us.
Jaron, could you re-word this sentence? I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.
<blockquote><font>quoteQuote:I think that people with certain values and priorities in life tend to gravitate towards certain types of music/literature/film etc. I don’t think these things define the person as much as they often reflect his/her world/life view.
I was thinking about this, and I partly agree…but if you’ll humor me Mat, let me engage a little friendly debate here [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] …
A) music can be one of two things– it can be relative to you & your situation, or it can just be ear candy. In my instance, for example, there are days that call for Pearl Jam and Manson and there are days that call for a little Ludacris.
B) by your logic, people who have different values should prefer different kinds of music. But weirdly, that’s not always the case. Why do both rich frat boys & girls (with trust funds) and poor black kids enjoy Rage Against the Machine, for example? Why does Kid Rock appeal to both conservative rednecks and liberal thrillseekers? Lots of times, people with different values like the same music for different reasons.
I think that music is different things to different people. To some it’s just danceable, to some it’s therapeutic/sympathetic/cathartic; to some it’s both.
I know I’m leaving a lot out; it’s just such a complex issue. Hard to wrap my brain around everything at once. Would love to discuss more, if you wish.
[ November 25, 2001: Message edited by: rosa ]</p>November 25, 2001 at 7:08 pm #66379Quote:Originally posted by maxini:
[QB]What exactly is a lunchable?
a lunchable is something passed off as food by oscar meyer. Check this out:
I fully agree with you, it is a complex issue and one which I go round and round about. I’m glad that everyone who listens to one artist/genre is not the same. I’m with you on mood dictating what to listen to. my tastes are pretty diverse. I do find overall though that if you look at a person’s overall tastes: music/film/art/lit/hobbies etc. etc. etc. they do say something about the individual,their values, and world view. It always made me chuckle when I saw frat guys in jeeps pumping their fists to Rage, and feeling that they were proably not getting the same message from the music that my marxist zapatista supporting friend was. this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t listen to it for what it represents to them, it’s just interesting how different people react so differently to the same thing.
rambling on and on
matNovember 26, 2001 at 12:09 am #66380
<blockquote><font>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by rosa:
<strong>Jaron could you reword this sentence?
[ November 25, 2001: Message edited by: rosa ]</strong><hr></blockquote>
Heh… it took me 15 minutes to get it that legable.
For example: what does the average plot line of the popular movies say about us. What does the themes the singers of pop music sing about say about us, and so forth…
Do you think the fact Britney sings about, well, shit, and pop teen movies feature hackneyed plots say anything about the state of artistic endeavor in modern society.November 26, 2001 at 1:04 am #66381
did my second attempt at explaining the "middle"
make any sense at all.
matNovember 26, 2001 at 1:39 am #66382
K7 Rides AgainParticipant
OK, I once read this article many years ago, and I’m not really sure if it fits here, but reading everything you all are talking about just keeps reminding me of it, and since I can’t find the actual piece, I’ll give ya the gist of it.
America the Great?
…There’s a vast empire, many lands and many riches. It’s a dominant player in all world affairs, and has a large army that is unstoppable. Their are many with great wealth, but at the same time many live in the streets. Food is plentiful, but many still starve. The government is corrupt. Big business and money influence the decision making process. The beauracracy lives only to perpetuate itself, rather than the people it represents. Representives are corrupt, taking bribes and only serving their own interests. Morality in general is spiraling downward. Crime rates keep rising. Many are scared of the police force designated to protect them. Athletics and acting are the sole focus of the society. Athletes and entertainers are paid unheard of amounts of money, while the people who pull the weight get paid less and less. Inflation continues to grow and foreign debts continue to rise. Their is much civil unrest within the society…
So anyways, the whole thing goes on and on like that, and the whole time you’re thinking "Wow, this is totally describing the United States" and then the last line of the article is…
…and Rome fell in 476A.D.
Just something to think about.November 26, 2001 at 1:55 am #66383
K7 Rides AgainParticipant
I guess what I was getting at…
Is that people don’t take the time to see the bigger picture. They are just so content with the normal, the easily accepted. Heaven forbid they open their eyes and see just how much more is out there, or expand their minds beyond a thought that hasn’t already been sugar coated and spoon fed. For the most part "contentness" as Rosa put it, really is the key. And that’s why the mundane is so easily perpetuated. It serves it’s purpose, to entertain, no more-no less. Why spend time writing some lyrical masterpeice when you really don’t have to, and can still make millions? I also think it somewhat perpetuates a false hope. People see that and think "if they could do it, I can too" without realizing that someone else is making a buck off of that hope. So I guess, people in general are lazy? Maybe comfortable? Why stretch for something more when I have just enough? So, like I first said, "why see the bigger picture when the one I have in front of me is just fine?" (that’s kind of the feel I’ve been getting from everyones’ posts, which is what made me think of that article)
I’ll think about this some more, organize my thoughts a little better, and get back to you all [img]images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]November 26, 2001 at 2:16 am #66384
I think the reason that crap music and movies are popular is because people want something they can ignore. People don’t want to be driving to work and hear complex introspective original music they just want something to fill the space so they don’t have to think. As music fans we take for granted that there are people who don’t really care about music and just listen to the radio.
People just want to go see movies that they don’t have to think about so they can make out with their date or whatever.
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