Cultural ruts are easy to develop – consuming the same type of media can begin to feel comfortable and safe. When trying to mentally escape for a while from a hectic week or busy schedule, the extra work required to discover different popular culture can seem like a chore. As the NPR podcast – “Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut” – points out, however, avoiding the familiar can be far more rewarding. Doing so presents a challenge and the potential for personal and intellectual growth.
I am definitely guilty of growing set in my ways when it comes to consuming popular culture. The conversation in the podcast focused on how many people often gravitate towards media that they enjoyed during their formative years. Seeking out popular culture that is not as well known to you is far more challenging than routinely revisiting the same websites, channels, radio stations, etc.
I especially identified with the segment that mentioned wasting time re-watching the same movies over and over, instead of exploring new ones. This idea was referred to as “comfort food pop culture,” which I think is an accurate comparison (Holmes, 2014). I was also intrigued by the advice to not rely on friends for recommendations all the time (because you probably share similar interests) and to be a cultural tourist (in order to understand other cultures’ attitudes towards gender, art, and ideals). I want to strive to adopt some of these strategies in my daily practice of consuming popular culture.
One of my biggest takeaways from the piece was not that I should force myself to like something because it is critically acclaimed or is simply outside of my comfort zone – instead I should consciously attempt to explore new things and then make my own judgments. By giving all kinds of popular culture a chance, I will be able to develop an eclectic taste and learn from diverse sources of media. Sometimes, that will require suppressing my own preconceived notions about certain genres or mediums of art. My goal going forward is to push outside of my comfort zone and not limit my understanding to only one perspective. Being open-minded, ambitious, and willing to put in a little more work can ultimately bring more satisfaction and awareness.
While listening to the previously mentioned podcast for this assignment, I realized that my experience with that medium for my own personal enjoyment is very limited. I have been required to listen to a few podcasts for school in the past, but have never been a listener in my spare time. I decided it was time to give them a try, and selected the No Film School podcast show (their latest offering, “IBC Gear Sneak Peek, Canon’s Redemption & Festival Madness”). I accessed this episode online, but it is also available for download on the Apple Store.
I usually consider myself a visual learner and was nervous that my attention would not fully be committed to a podcast. As a student who does not have hour-long commutes each week, this medium is not something I can play in the background as I drive to and from work. In this way, I never considered myself part of a specific target audience for this medium.
The particular show that I selected – which focused on filmmaking – presented its own challenges. I would like to expose myself to the more technical aspects of filmmaking and the industry as a whole, and this show definitely incorporated more professional terminology than I am accustomed to using. That kind of technical language (mainly camera features and new equipment, such as Canon’s C700 cinema camera) can be intimidating and has prevented me from fully choosing to engage in media topics such as this. While attempting to be conscious of how I was interacting with this new piece of popular culture, I was reminded of the concept of high and low culture merging into a homogenized mass (Macdonald, 1953). I realized that my subconscious aversion to the No Film School episode’s content and to podcasts in general might have stemmed from believing that the detailed discussion of film equipment and the enjoyment of podcasts were both not meant for me.
Despite this initial feeling that I was somehow unqualified to partake in this media because of my age or lack of experience, I did thoroughly enjoy the podcast format. I was surprised at how engaging and informative this medium ultimately felt. Afterwards, I even explored other podcasts on my phone and subscribed to a few for weekly updates. It seemed to be a very accessible platform with a collection of various genres and interests – perfect for trying to expand one’s popular culture horizons.
Holmes, Linda. (2014, September). Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut. NPR Monkey See.
Nord, Liz. (Editor-in-Chief). (2016, September 8). IBC Gear Sneak Peek, Canon’s Redemption & Festival Madness. [Audio podcast].
Retrieved from http://nofilmschool.com/tags/podcast
MacDonald, Dwight. (1953). A Theory of Mass Culture.