Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An interesting thought on pop culture

Pop culture, by definition is the cultural identity that most people ascribe to. Implicitly, this means that people will follow it by default. Only being dissatisfied with it can cause people to look elsewhere for a cultural identity. But the fact that it is the "popular culture" has the additional effect of making it very difficult to make that move, since largely it means abandoning the values of those around you. I often feel very alone, as I ascribe to a value system that says that a majority does not define correctness. People often conform to the values of those around them, so they feel like they belong. A sociologist, Solomon Asch, did a study where he put subjects in a room with "confederates" (people who appear to be studies, but are actually part of the study) and showed them pictures with lines on them. The subjects were then asked to point out the line that was longest. On certain slides, the confederates would all choose a line that was obviously not the longest. The majority of the time, the subject would choose the same line. Here is a wikipedia link for more info. This just demonstrates how often people will choose going along with the group, even if they know the group is wrong. Culturally, this holds true too. The vast majority of cultural information (core values, fashion, entertainment) are defined by mass media, and enforced by the fact that everyone else around them does it. In reality, this is horribly damaging, since a core value transferred is blind conformity without question. I've asked people tough questions about pop cultural beliefs that they hold, and most of them have never actually questioned it. Telling, isn't it?

Now it's time for more finals.

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