Posted by: dougery | October 25, 2012

Pop Cultural Spheres of Influence

I have often said, in perfect seriousness, that I wish I could clone myself (assuming that my clone and I would have a kind of shared ‘hive’ mind) and just have my clone sit and read all day. Or maybe we would alternate days, I dunno. What would probably end up happening after the first week or so, is a terrible fight. I’d grow jealous of him, harsh words would be said, feelings would be hurt, and more likely than not, one of us would get arrested for clonal fratricide.

This is just a circuitous way of saying I wish I spent more time reading.

We all have pop cultural blind-spots. There is just too much stuff to pay attention to now, and I won’t even throw in real world news into the equation, though lord knows you could sift through that 24 hours a day, pop culture be damned. No, what I am talking about are the poorly designated categories of  Books (literary), Music (audio), Film/TV (visual), and internet miscellany (social media, youtube, memes, etc). So roughly 4 arenas of popular entertainment which I won’t bother to divide into high or low. Suck it Tree of Life, for the purposes of this argument, you’re popular entertainment, on par with, say, The Deadpool version of “Gangnam Style” video.

If I had to rank these four categories in terms of average daily time spent from most to least, this is what things would look like. Keep in mind these categories are blurry, I don’t pretend to know how to classify something like McSweeney’s (is it strictly internet, or is it more literary/Books? What if the article itself is about movies? Gah!)

1. Internet
2. Music
3. Film/TV
4. Books

The internet and its encamped memes and dominions is hard to avoid. Even though it is consumed piecemeal, jagged little pills taken here and there, I’d have to say I consume more internet than anything else. I’d guess I am not alone here. This is followed by music, which I listen to for several hours a day, almost every day. Unlike the internet, which is an ocean of relatively unchanging ephemera, I try to listen to a new album a day if not more. Unfamiliarity being the key. Spotify is ingenious in this regard. I’ll be perfectly honest, I probably average closer to a few new albums per week, but my world is awash in music.

Next comes Film/TV, which in my case nearly always plain TV as I’m lucky to watch a handful of movies per month. Seriously weak at getting to the theater, and somehow worse at watching the discs that are hand-delivered right to me at home. There they sit, mouldering next to the TV stand for months. I’ll get to you some day King of Kong. That said, an average evening’s dinner entertainment often consists of a couple hours of TV, be it reruns of Parks and Rec or last week’s Colbert Report, etc. If I had a television that was connected to the outside world, TV would likely usurp Music in terms of sheer content, just by adding televised sports alone. But as it stands I can currently only access TV via my wii’s Netlfix. Probably a blessing.

Lastly books. On a good day I will read for close to 2 hours. more if you count particularly literary blog content. I wish this amount was higher, or maybe I didn’t read such long books as I feel like I haven’t finished a novel in ages.

There are people in your life who you consider ‘music’ people. You go to these people to bounce opinions off of, or to talk about what’s currently great, what’s overrated, how such and such was live, etc. I have a few friends who watch more movies than seem humanly possible and if I’m looking for a cinematic suggestion I go there. And then there are my lit-nerd friends who consume books like candy. I don’t really have any ‘internet’ friends, or at least, these would be hard to quantify. I think we’re all more or less equally internety at this point. Those who somehow (stubbornly) avoided social media maybe less so. Ideally one would have a healthy mix of the other 3 realms but this rarely happens. I know I try my best. However there is the difficulty factor here to contend with. If I had to rank each of these categories by terms of ease of access or the amount of active participation one needs to deliver, the list shakes out much differently.

1. Books (difficult/active attention)
2. Film (moderate to high difficulty/active attention)
3. Music (moderate difficulty*/ somewhat passive attention)
4. TV (low to moderate difficulty**/somewhat to very passive attention)
5. Internet (low difficulty***/very passive attention)

*Yes, I know that say, Oneohtrix Point Never, or whoever, is plenty difficult, but we’re talking gross generalizations and broad averages here, people. This is a blog post after-all.
**There are always exceptions and yes, some TV is as difficult as any film or book.
***I mean, I wouldn’t qualify, say, the G.I. Joe parody PSA videos on youtube as particularly accessible, but you get the idea.

This difficulty can make a difference in terms of how you’re perceived by the world. I think a great many folks spend a helluva a lot less than I do reading books, thus I’m approached most often for bookish type suggestions. God help anyone who came by and wanted to talk film, especially movies of the past few years. I can talk a good game in Music, bolstered by my attention to Pop, which most of my more hipstery friends shun as if it might deliver unto them the musical equivalent of an unplanned pregnancy or something. I’m OK at television, but usually years behind what’s hip.

So how to better balance things out? For me it’d be pretty simple. Kill the internet and fill the void with 2 movies a week, an additional rock show per month, and an extra hour of reading every other day. Why, I’d rule the Pop Cultural world if I could achieve this. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I promised the internet my first born, so I am kind of hamstrung here. Maybe the internet will accept a few homemade cat videos of Pickle headbutting blunt objects around the house instead. Those would be easy enough to pull off at the very least.


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