By Akshara Karthik (’22)
Whether we know it or not, Pop Culture affects us in one way or another. Without being aware of the hottest song on the radio or the newest fashion trend, we tend to feel excluded from mainstream society. Pop Culture is transmitted via mass media and aimed particularly at younger people. And we arrive at the question: Is Pop Culture Good or Bad? The truth is, Pop Culture can be both helpful and harmful to society.
Personally, I think that Pop Culture is a huge part of my life, and from what I’ve seen, it plays a big role in just about anyone’s life. I always catch myself scrolling through E! News on Instagram or listening to the radio dishing on the newest scandals and epiphanies in Hollywood. From what I’ve seen, I can presume that Pop Culture heavily influences our decisions, and sometimes we are oblivious to either the magic or damage it can do to us.
The “industry” of Pop Culture can create foundations that foster the production of relationships and open gateways for people to “fit in”. Popular Culture can unify people from all walks of life with one idea, which is an astounding feat. For example, this past month, country singer Kacey Musgraves went to a one-hour photo lab for developing the film. After hearing, the owner, Tom’s, struggles with slowed business at his small 90’s photoshop compared to modern photo studios, Musgraves and her sister made an Instagram for Tom’s shop and advertised for his business on their own respective social media. More than a month later, Tom’s One Hour Photo is verified on Instagram boasting 77 thousand followers. Every day, people continue to flock to Tom’s photo lab just to have their picture taken with a vintage spin on it and to support their role model Kacey Musgraves. As a result, Tom’s shop has seen the faces of many new visitors, even some that are known for having Grammys, Emmys, and Tonys under their belt. With just a couple of kind words, the power of social media, and a story, Pop Culture helped improve another person’s life, this time demonstrated by a country artist with a big heart.
However, sometimes Pop Culture can be a bit harmful to society, given the fact that it plays a huge role in our lives. Just this past January, Kim Kardashian, probably the most prominent and influential pop culture icon, faced serious backlash by the public for endorsing meal replacement lollipops. The company of these lollipops, which also sells tea and shake mixes, Flat Tummy Co. had baited over 500,000 people on Instagram alone and made 10 million dollars in 2017. However, people and former employees at the company explained that the products were extremely dangerous and were made with laxatives and snake oil. According to Dr. Tracey Lockwood Beckerman, a nutrition expert, “Celebrities are endorsing a product to their impressionable fans that can ultimately cause unpleasant side effects in the body such as diarrhea, uncomfortable headaches, and drastic shifts.” Kim was one of many influencers who promoted the product, and the public lashed out, with one commenter expressing, “Dangerous and misleading! You should be ashamed of yourself, flogging laxatives to millions of impressionable young people.” Unlike the other scenario, people were deceived into purchasing life-threatening eatables. However, this scenario accurately represents how people try to conform with society, and how their aspirations to be like their Pop Culture role models can often blind their judgments.
Ultimately, everything has a good and bad side, and we can presume that Pop Culture can be both helpful and harmful to society. Pop Culture impacts society in every which way, but it’s up to you whether you take it to the heart or not.