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Author Topic: Definition please!
Gary
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13

posted 22 April 2001 03:57 PM      Profile for Gary   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Someone please define pop culture for me. Is it as simple as "Music for the Masses", Hollywood movies, Rolling Stone Magazine and TV sit-coms or Survivor episodes? Or is there something more complicated involved?
From: On line | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
idlewild
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 28

posted 22 April 2001 07:20 PM      Profile for idlewild   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gary, it's just as complicated as you want it to be. I'd say that there's the Mass Culture, of which Pop Culture is a very large, highly segmented, subset. The Mass Culture is stuff that nearly everyone has access to, stuff that it's hard to escape unless you have no television. Stuff like network TV, the content of major-distribution magazines, best-selling books, backwards baseball caps.

And all of those things are also part of Pop Culture, but there are things that are part of Pop Culture (or the many Pop Cultures) that aren't part of Mass Culture. An example would be Dave Eggers, his book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and his magazines, the now-defunct Might, and the going-strong McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. The young Mr. Eggers has had an unusual life, as documented in his memoir, which was a hugely bestselling book last year, and which has recently come out in an expanded paperback edition. I'd say that Mr. Eggers himself, and more specifically, his book, are part of the Mass Culture. People who read Time and Newsweek know about him and his book, as do people who read The New Yorker and other, more "highbrow" publications.

His magazines, however, are good examples of things that are part of Pop Culture, but that aren't part of Mass Culture. McSweeney's, thanks to the success of AHWOSG, has seen a huge increase in sales and subscriptions, but it's still a wierd little quarterly periodical with very limited appeal. It's not Mass because not everyone knows about it, and yet it's Pop because some people who really, really dug AHWOSG read interviews with and profiles of Mr. Eggers very closely and did some follow-up homework on him and his other work.

His no-longer-in-publication magazine, Might, is even less of a Mass item because it's out of print, so not only are old issues sold out, no new issues will ever be forthcoming, and the only way you can get your hands on anything Might-related is to scrounge around for old copies at flea markets or to buy the anthology of essays that appeared in the magazine. Still, it's Pop, because there's an even smaller wedge of the population that does know about it and pursues it.

Whew. I guess the way I look at Pop Culture is sort of like a pyramid. You've got your big base of Mass Culture at the bottom, providing a foundation for everything else, and then there are narrower and narrower wedges of stuff as you work your way up.


From: Toronto | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gary
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13

posted 22 April 2001 10:54 PM      Profile for Gary   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So pop=cool?

What other pyramids does mass culture have?


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idlewild
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Babbler # 28

posted 23 April 2001 01:39 AM      Profile for idlewild   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Pop = cool in that case if we mean cool = obscure. And lots of times that's what people mean when they say that something is cool.

I know other rabblers have ideas about this. Share!


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Dawna Matrix
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Babbler # 156

posted 07 May 2001 06:30 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Cool, huh? As a definition for pop? What do I think is cool? Anything that 'haunts' me is cool - anything that gives me a dislocation from my reality, like ads from another country, etc. Adbusters is cool. Old people are cool. Old clothes, furniture, etc. Pick your generation. This is the end of progress, and we get to pick the part we like best. Here is a cool face that is cool.
From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 08 May 2001 01:48 PM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't agree with cool as a meaning for obscure. the so-called "pop-culture" is anything but obscure. its mainstream. pop-culture is popular culture, what we see/hear everyday. the ads, the music. since when is something that is popular, obscure? nothing obscure about it.

[ May 08, 2001: Message edited by: carlo_in_stereo ]


From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dawna Matrix
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Babbler # 156

posted 08 May 2001 02:36 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that what is 'newly' obscure, the strange little band that only a few know about, or anything that has gone past popular and returned to obscure, is cool. In fact, there seems to be an antipathy towards anything that is maistream - it is immediately criticized as soon as it becomes so, and thus loses its "cool factor". Things that used to be obscure, got popular and disappeared, are once againg returned to cool, to run through the cool mill again. I think that is what is meant as obscure = cool - that the point before something becomes mainstream, it is cool. Before and after mainstream is cool, while mainstream is just that - something that we are inundated with to death.
From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tackaberry
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Babbler # 487

posted 08 May 2001 06:00 PM      Profile for Tackaberry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My little cousin thinks that both Britney and N'Sync are very very cool. Associating cool with obscurity is too simplistic. I am sure that for a certain segament of society, obscure does equeal cool. But obscure is not necessarily cool, and cool is not necessarily obscure.

Popular culture I would say is any 'cultural product' (I know that will make some cringe) that is popular with a significant mass of people. For this reason I don't think Might should be considered popular culture.
What exactly is the mass needed to be considered pop culture? Beats me.

A better question to talk about is whether pop culture is good or bad.

[ May 08, 2001: Message edited by: Tackaberry ]


From: Tokyo | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 09 May 2001 04:06 PM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So if something is mainstream, it isn't "cool", but if its obscure, it is? Am I reading this right? I think a lot of people are using the word "obscure" very wrong here. now, "obscure" is one of those words that people love to use in the wrong way, just like people love to use "pretentious" in the wrong way. One thing is known, obscure does not mean "cool."

here are some definitions:
1. not clearly expressed or easily understood
2. unexplained.
3. dark
4. indistinct
5. hidden; unnoticed

when it lists hidden as being obscure, that doesn't mean some band on an independent record label is obscure. Obscure is the lost tapes of a recording, the lost film stock of a film. A band from the 70's that had a few hit songs, then disappeared, but still make music and release it over in japan only where no one else can find it. thats obscure, but it doesn't mean it has to be "cool". not an Elephant 6 Co. band, who are not in mainstream, yet, numberous people know about them, or a band on Drag City Records. Its not obscure, its well known, but its just not mainstream.

"Before and after mainstream is cool." This is a pretentious; meaning that this is an excessive claim, statement. With music, all I have to make is one example. Sonic Youth. Before they broke into mainstream, they were very "cool", they were different, but they were not obscure. They entered mainstream, they remained "cool", and grew a bigger fan-base. Now, they are drifting out of mainstream with their independent albums(the SYR series), and yet they are far from obscure, since they still release of Geffen Records, and they're still damn "cool". The only thing obscure with Sonic Youth, is their first album, which I will never find for the rest of my life.

Anyways, this is getting way too long, and I'm not trying to "rag" on anyone who posted, but obscure does not mean cool, and mainstream does not have to mean un-cool. Plus, this whole topic was on a definition for Pop Culture, how obscurity got into it, I have no clue.

[ May 09, 2001: Message edited by: carlo_in_stereo ]


From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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Babbler # 554

posted 09 May 2001 04:47 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Culture that is popular?
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Eddie Lear
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 362

posted 09 May 2001 05:36 PM      Profile for Eddie Lear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Pop culture and it's deconstruction began in the
1980's.Postmodern philosophy is the source of
much of the new concern with popular culture.
Firstly it is foolish to say it's is right or
wrong because it is so new.Well it has always
been there in form of social mythos and logo
centrism but with the onset of mass communication the face has changed dramatically. accompanying pop culture is many things,one of those things in a unique
form of cynacism and fatalistic irony often
expressed through satire.We as a race have nothing to compare ourselves with in the uni-
verse and thus why simple words like right or
wrong are useless in deconstructing Pop culture.What kind of Pop culture are we speaking about in this thread.Possibly Cultural imperialism(in japan western models
dominate the billboards and the idealized western idea of beauty is embraced)

[ May 09, 2001: Message edited by: Eddie Lear ]


From: Port Colborne, Ont | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dawna Matrix
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Babbler # 156

posted 09 May 2001 06:04 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ya know, all I was doing was giving some examples of the things that cut it in mine and my friends apartments and lofts - and maybe I'm a little more fringe than most, but as a personal definition of cool, that's it. Maybe I'm in a separate 'matrix' of cool, but for most of my buddies, the weirder and more original, or even more 'obscure' the subject, be it art, music, decor, experience, mysteries of the universe and life, (here's where your definition of 'obscure' comes in, carlo) etc., the more 'cool' factor points it gets. I also think that what is cool to someone will depend on their generation, their social position, their race, gender, even sexual orientation, etc. So as a definition for what is cool, I'm going with obscure for myself. How about this - anti-culture and anti-pop is pop-culture. Criticism of culture is pop-culture. NO LOGO. All the songs about how crappy the world is, sell like mad. (Sonic Youth, you can fit in here) Everyone loves to slag what is the new pop-fantasy of the media - Britney and N-sync, (sorry Tackaberry!) by virtue of their blatant commercialized packaging may cut it now in the market, and with a younger audience, but the market is growing more conscious of the propaganda of these pre-packaged stars, and most people outgrow their love of pop music - everyone who loved New Kids on the Block, hang your head.
carlo wrote:
""Before and after mainstream is cool."
This is a pretentious; meaning that this is an excessive claim, statement."
It is not excessive if it is my opinion, which it is. I determine my own version of what is cool, and contribute it here to formulate a complete definition of pop. I would suggest that it is pretentious that you criticize my opinion.
OOh. I just read media-boy's suggestion...how about an envelope theory - Culture that is popular - and the criticism of it.

From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 10 May 2001 03:34 AM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why is something not "cool" because it is mainstream, Dawna Matrix? I know of few mainstream things that are quite weird, and quite original.

Its wonderfull to be suggested as being pretentious when I disagree with someone. Hm, I wonder if all my teachers and profs thought I was pretentious because I didn't agree with everything they said and I'd criticized what they have said or wrote. I don't know. Maybe I should just agree with what everyone says even if I don't agree with it. maybe then, just maybe, I wouldn't be pretentious. Oh, I'd also like to know under what definition of pretention I fall under. The name of the topic is "definition please!", so why not have a definition run-down of all over-used words in pop-culture.

[ May 10, 2001: Message edited by: carlo_in_stereo ]


From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tackaberry
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Babbler # 487

posted 10 May 2001 12:45 PM      Profile for Tackaberry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Dawna, as much as you (and I for that matter) hate bands like N'sync or Britney Spears you're facing a very uphill climb to convince me they are not pop culture.
I agree that we are seeing a shift towards a critical almost anti-pop culture movement. But this is nothing new. Remember at one point disco of all things was a counter-culture against rock, and then rock became the conter-culture against disco. When I was a teen Nirvana, Pearl Jam, soundgarden and the whole grunge/garage bands were the counter-culture (and then the pop culture). Every age has its counter-culture.
so are these examples part of the pop-culture of there respective periods?
The protest movement certainly has some cultural qualities (the anti- thing I mentioned at the start), and could be considered a counter-culture today.

[ May 10, 2001: Message edited by: Tackaberry ]


From: Tokyo | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dawna Matrix
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Babbler # 156

posted 10 May 2001 01:34 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey Carlo - take it easy on me. Visit the Flame Warz thread (I think that's what it's called), so you will understand why I don't want to waste anymore valuable thread space arguing, and put my fingerwork towards a more productive end, such as coalescing a definition based on many different opinions of what pop is. Please read my post again to understand that my opinion is as valid as anyone's when contributing to a definition, a process that is still occuring. You will notice that I have taken into consideration other's definitions as well - ie, media boy's contribution, and your own. If you have any more suggestions yourself I would love to read them, to help furthur this process. Please take into acount that when creating a definition, all opinions are valid - mine included. That is how the process of definition works - the reason why there is more than just one meaning for the word "pretension": like "affectation" and "display" - not so commonly misused after all, merely context based. I think it is an "excessive claim" to reject my opinion in this process of definition simply because you disagree with it. If you will notice, I have included yours, media boy's and my own opinions in my last post - that pop culture is "Culture that is popular - and the criticism of it." I would suggest that because of the differences of opinion concerning what is 'cool', (more than evident in all these posts) that pop is mainly that which is of controversial value. I'm sorry if my last post appeared caustic - it was not meant as such.

On the personal note, you asked why I consider things that are mainstream not 'cool'; it is for a variety of reasons. I am sick of pop music, and what is pop classic, etc, because of how inescapable it is in public life. Also I am sick of the co-opted nature of pop, 'cool' being generally decided by what is saleable - this probably stems from my own uncomfortability with the ethics of capitalism. I find what is mainstream to be the ever-changing face of what sells - and I find this lacking in value. So, there's my personal anti-pop. Can anyone improve on this, then:
Pop culture is that which is of controversial value?

Sorry again, Carlo, if I appeared offensive.


From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 12 May 2001 04:22 AM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe this thread should move into a definition of what is mainstream. Since pop-culture is culture that is popular, which I believe is true, and has been said many times already. but its mainstream simply pop-music? Well, thats part of mainstream society, but its not just pop-music. Just as an example, Pearl Jam(who suck more then any words I can label to them)are mainstream, but they are not Pop-music. Radiohead, are mainstream, but not Pop-Music. Kevin Smith films are mainstream, Computers are mainstream. Its part of pop-culture to have a computer? Quick...run...the internet is mainstream.
From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tackaberry
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Babbler # 487

posted 12 May 2001 01:17 PM      Profile for Tackaberry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Carlos, personally I think that Pearl Jam started as not mainstream, and pop, but I would have to say that the whole gruge thing shifted. The counter-culture became the mainstream, pop culture (as much as Pearl Jam hated that think music videos etc).
From: Tokyo | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dawna Matrix
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 156

posted 14 May 2001 12:42 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hello Carlo and Tackaberry and others. Has anyone come up with a better definition than "Pop culture is that which is of controversial value?"

Carlo - you are arguing a moot point. Your opinion of what is pop is included in the above definition, is it not? And look - Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth and the computer can fit in the definition! Also, please refrain from emailing me personally - I would prefer to keep conversation public where you will not have the option of ignoring netiquette. Thank you.

So, again - this thread is to define pop culture. Can I have some concurrence on the above definition? Tackaberry? Carlo? Anyone?


From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Eddie Lear
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 362

posted 15 May 2001 01:11 AM      Profile for Eddie Lear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Carlo. You said that pearl jam who in your
opinion are "mainstream" ,but they are not
pop music.That is because "pop music" is not
is not alternative music but at different times
they were both extremely mainstream. The face
of Mainstream is always changing, at one time Pink Floyd or Jazz music was mainstream.
You mentioned that Pearl Jam sucks, not just
a little bit but { " who suck more than any
word I can Label to them". How do exactly do
they suck Mr. in_stereo? I request that you
substantiate this footling abstraction. Also
are you so unlettered that you can find no
word to prove your point? come on,you can do
it... throw some Adjectives my way!

[ May Lear ]

[ May 15, 2001: Message edited by: Eddie Lear ]


From: Port Colborne, Ont | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
CraigHubley
unregistered

posted 15 May 2001 01:16 AM           Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Can we get a list together of political pop? Not just music but activist spoken word too?

Jello Biafra, Public Enemy, Michael Moore (the Awful Truth and TV Nation and Roger And Me, not the WTO head! I wish!), U2, Peter Gabriel, Ice-T... who's got the "relevant rap"?


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Dawna Matrix
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 156

posted 16 May 2001 11:40 AM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For all you Tyranntonians, coming shortly to a spoken word mike near you - Dawna Matrix. For local political angst and poetry, as well as much Babylonian frippery, one of the standbys of political open mike, open concept is BITE night at the Elmocambo, hosted by Marty Raw, the first Tuesday of every month. Some great stuff comes out of there - Broken Cowboy, Forward Jumpfish, Fukermann, whom I hear are working on a movie. There is also a soon to be released 'Labour of Love' CD, a compilation of great local spoken word and music by Toronto artists, produced by Norm Cristofoli, publisher of the Labour of Love zine. I'll drop the launch date and location when I hear about it All this shameful self-promotion. I sicken myself.

[ May 16, 2001: Message edited by: Dawna Matrix ]


From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 17 May 2001 03:58 PM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Eddie Lear, am I not allowed to think a band's music sucks? I don't like Pearl Jam because I think their music is horrible.

And when I wrote Pearl Jam are not Pop Music, this is from working in record stores...Pearl Jam would be in the "alternative" section, and Backstreet Boys would be in the "pop/dance" section. I never wrote that alternative music is not popular. infact, I wrote that is it by saying Pearl Jam is mainstream.


From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
carlo_in_stereo
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Babbler # 190

posted 17 May 2001 04:08 PM      Profile for carlo_in_stereo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is Rick White still making posters for the Elmo? I know he did a couple posters for some shows a few weeks ago.

Dawna Matrix, can you clarify what you mean by pop culture is that which is of controversial value. Can't really agree with something that isn't explained. although, I gotta say, it sounds very catchy.

[ May 17, 2001: Message edited by: carlo_in_stereo ]


From: mtl | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dawna Matrix
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 156

posted 22 May 2001 01:15 PM      Profile for Dawna Matrix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't know who does the posters - Bite does it's own promotions. About the 'controversial value': witness you and Eddie Lear going at it over Pearl Jam. Controversial value. Microsoft. Sonic Youth. Britney Spears. We've had this conversation before - go over the thread from the beginning and check out the argument that you participated in. I think it should be clear how this definition evolved.
From: the stage on cloud 9 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged

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