Courtney Hackett

I’m a Rut girl, living in a Rut World
I never realized until this podcast, but I am a girl who is living in a cultural rut and I need help. I think, with my new insight on cultural ruts, that it is very important to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. I have always beens someone who tries to take advantage of new experiences but I never applied it to pop culture. I am in a cultural rut when it comes to most of my media consumption but especially when it comes to my taste in music. One of the women talking in the podcast mentioned how she has the same twelve hundred songs on her iPod which is something I can completely relate to. I think I am in a musical rut because I like my music to be songs that I am comfortable with. It doesn’t help that when it comes to my family and friends we all pretty much listen to the same radio stations and never really change our ways. One part of the podcast that really resonated with me was when they talked about the exchange of quotes as a way of bonding. Personally, I have never been someone who was able to memorize quotes and never understood what was so funny about consistently repeating the same lines back and forth. In the podcast they acknowledged that the exchange of quotes isn’t actually a conversation which really resonated with me because that is how I’ve always felt. I think this exchange of quotes as a form of communication shows how popular culture has changed society in many different ways.
My chosen piece of popular culture is music because I have a very basic taste in modern day music which includes Pop and Country. As I looked at my Spotify account my recommendations were for “Today’s Pop Hits” and “Today’s Hot Country,” I clearly need to broaden my horizons. As I looked through the genre categories I decided to check out the Blues section, assuming it was going to be quiet and simple music. I was very surprised by the first song I listened to which was “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters, because instead of the slow jazz I was expecting it was upbeat and soulful. The song Mannish Boy, to me, sounded like a mix of rock, pop, and jazz and I kind of loved it. I listened to the Spotify playlist “Chicago Blues” for an entire day between classes, and I have honestly added two songs onto my playlist.

Two of my favorite playlists are “Mood Boosters” or “Happy Hits” on Spotify and while listening to “Chicago Blues” I honestly thought to myself that these songs should be added on because they made me feel just as happy. I am always that girl walking to classes who has a slight smile on her face and head bobbing because of my music, I still had that same experience today while listening to the Blues. I actually felt like I was a more intriguing person because if someone had asked me what I was listening to they would have thought I was a lot cooler than I really am. I feel like Blues are made for people who have a little sass to them, I don’t know if that is necessarily me, but I did feel more empowered after listening to this playlist. I don’t think I am necessarily going to change my ways completely but I think on the occasional day I will no longer be afraid to listen to some Blues. I learned that Blues does not mean sad music to listen to when you get down, and I learned that songs that everyone listens to on the radio are not necessarily the only option to put you in the right mood. I already feel like my grandparents are watching over me, elated that I found enjoyment in something they once loved.
One of my favorite readings so far in this class was James Wolcott’s “I’M A CULTURE CRITIC … GET ME OUT OF HERE!”, when he talked about how reality TV has lowered network property values and annihilated classic documentary styles. I enjoyed this reading because I felt as if my Dad had written this article and was trying to prove to my sister and I that everything we watch is complete trash. The funny part about this article is that I completely agreed with him but I still consume reality TV as a form of media. I felt like this article was very relatable to my experience with being stuck in a cultural rut when it comes to my taste in music because of the way pop culture controls what you listen to. As a student at UIUC there are many diverse students who consume multiple types of media but I still think we’re all a little stuck. As discussed in the Podcast, newer technologies such as Sirius radio group music intro genres and still play the same songs on repeat. I think Spotify and Radio stations are very similar to Reality TV in that they have changed the way the world consumes media. With reality TV networks such as Bravo and A&E Wolcott (2009) discusses how they “abandoned any arty aspirations years ago and rebranded themselves as vanity mirrors” (p. 1), the same can be said for radio stations that only play artists whose songs are the same as everything else on the radio. Whether it is pop, country, rock or any other genre it seems radio stations don’t ever try to mix it up or try to broaden listeners tastes. Music, like Reality TV, has become stuck in a cultural rut of pushing new and different styles aside and sticking to the norm.

All in all, I am really happy that I went outside of my comfort zone and I think more people should push themselves to try new things. I don’t know if people would be upset if their favorite radio stations strayed away from the norm and started playing things a little different but I think it would give people a broader perspective about how much is available in the world. I will from now on make a conscious effort to try a new show, movie, book, or song.

Reference List
Thompson, S. (2014). “Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut.” Podcast from npr.org
Waters, M. (1955). Mannish Boy. Chess.
Wolcott, J. (2009, Nov 11). I’M A CULTURE CRITIC … GET ME OUT OF HERE! Retrieved from vanityfair.com


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