A cultural rut can be something that is very difficult to break out of. As said in the podcast, human beings feel more comfortable when they lean on familiar entertainment without ever taking the smallest of steps outside of their comfort zone. Personally, I have always thought of myself as a very cultured person who tries a little bit of everything and fully emerging myself in the culture that surrounds us today. However, I didn’t realize that I was in a cultural rut until listening to the podcast segment.
Something that was mentioned in the podcast is that people are often more afraid to try a new song than a new book or movie because you can always stop a movie or put a book down, but a song can sort of follow you around and get stuck in your head. I am just now realizing that I am currently in a musical cultural rut.
If someone asks me what kind of music do I like, I find it hard to formulate an answer. I always just say that I like a little bit of everything, when in reality, I have been playing the same album on Spotify for weeks now–the original cast album for The Phantom of the Opera. I can’t seem to listen to anything else right now. I guess I could always say that Broadway show tunes is the genre that I typically enjoy, and while I really really do enjoy musical theatre, that’s not the only thing I ever listen to. I have many playlists that I have compiled full of various hodgepodges of tunes. But I’m just stuck in this Phantom of the Opera rut, but I just can’t seem to figure out why.
One part of the podcast that really stuck out to me is this particular bit of advice…
“Do not be one of those people who laments the current state of anything in culture.”
Being the brat that I sometimes am, I often find myself getting in arguments with some of parents’ friends about “kids these days” and how my generation is ruining our culture and blah blah blah… I usually tell them something similar to this quote from the podcast thinking very highly of myself–of course I must not be one of those people, I’m so culturally diverse. Boy, was I wrong. I now realize that I am not as open to all types of popular culture as I once thought I was…
If there was one piece of popular culture that I can say that I absolutely can not stand, it would be country music. In fact, when someone asks me what type of music that I like, my response is most often “I pretty much like anything except country.”
I grew up in a very small, very rural town in central Illinois surrounded by corn fields and farms where all my friends were camo wearing, tractor driving, country music lovers. But I just could. not. stand it. I enjoyed things like going to see musicals with my mom and listening to old vinyl records from the 60’s with my dad, and my friends enjoyed sitting in the beds of their pickup trucks in the middle of cornfields blasting their favorite country songs, so I guess it’s easy to see why my music tastes ended up being a little bit different from my friends.
I chose to take a little adventure outside of my comfort zone and indulge in a some good ol’ country music. I asked one of my country loving roommates who her favorite artist is and what her favorite song is currently, and she introduced me to Sam Hunt and his popular song, “House Party.” Immediately, I searched for it on Spotify and found his album, and searched YouTube and found a video of it as well.
I’ll admit, the song was catchy. And although I’m a bit ashamed of it, I found myself nodding my head and tapping my foot. Watching the video, I noticed that this didn’t seem like the typical country music image that I had in my head. Where were the cowboy hats and American flags? Sam Hunt just seemed like someone that I would find walking around campus.
I also felt that the people dancing and singing along at a house party reminded me a lot people my age that I’m surrounded by each day, and I can say that I now understand the appeal. The song just really makes you feel good. It made me want to be at a house party, and I imagine that listening to it at a house party with all of your friends would probably make everyone extremely happy.
However, while the song made me feel happy for the 3 minutes and 10 seconds that it played, I couldn’t help but think about how it’s not that much different from other country songs that I have heard before. Maybe I’m just a music snob, but I like a little variety, and country music all kind of sounds the same to me. Not only in terms of musical structure, but also in terms of the happy, feel-good, no worries vibe that all the songs seem to give off. For example, “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith or “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line.
While I don’t think that I’m quite ready to sport a camo jacket and hop in the back of someone’s truck, I feel that I should have more of an open mind about it. I now understand the fun-loving culture surrounding country music a little bit more. I think it’s important to take a step back like this every once in a while, set all judgement aside, and just observe culture objectively for a little bit in order to get a better understanding of the people that consume it each day. I think the next time one of my friends turns on some country tunes, I will be more open to having a good time and just listening rather than scoffing at it like I have always done before.
YOU KNOW WHAT THE SAY…..
….or something like that….
Holmes, Linda. (2014, September). Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ And Busting Out Of A Rut. NPR Monkey See. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2014/09/05/346055621/pop-culture-happy-hour-repurposing-the-simpsons-and-busting-out-of-a-rut