Pop Culture As A Value System

Sometimes what is called pop culture seems to be clearly stating what it is: commercial culture. The pop movies, tv shows, best sellers, are the lagniappe, the small gift given by a shop owner when a customer makes a purchase, with the buzz not the substance being the true nature of the purchase. The movie which accompanies the marketing campaign, where the coming attraction is often all the movie really is. It’s well, high concept, after all. Simple ideas designed to be approved in the form of movies.

Pop culture is best viewed as its first word indicates: it is a popularity contest. It is a top ten list, a marker of consensus, which, in circular fashion, is created by the true pop culture, which is advertising. Pop culture is merchandizing by another name.

The biggest problem with this is that this popularity, this media constructed affirmation, is then stated as a value. That is, the value system espoused by pop culture is that of public opinion: convention and consensus and conformity. That isn’t a value system.

Gore Vidal about public opinion:

At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice.