Pop Culture 101

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An Introductory Column




My first order of business with this column is to define pop culture as a concept. It would be very easy to say that pop culture is film, music and television. That’s what it is, but not what it means. Simply put, pop culture is our societal relationship with the media around us.

IU South Bend Preface intern Jordan Lucas.
IU South Bend Preface intern Jordan Lucas.

Media provides a framework for our world as well as a lens through which to view it. This is pop culture in its essence. It is subtle and pervasive. Media influences everything from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the way we speak.

How many of us own a t-shirt with the name of our favorite band emblazoned across the front? Or crave a burger after we’ve seen an advertisement on television? Or, most ubiquitous of all, how many of us speak in catch phrases and movie quotes?

I, for one, suffer from all of these afflictions of pop culture fever. This is an illness I have lived happily with for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of films. I remember trying to memorize lines before I could read.

I have an obsessive love of pop culture. I crave not just new content, but information. I am a wealth of knowledge for upcoming productions as well as behind-the-scenes trivia. In school, I was surprised to find that my passion for media alienated me from my peers.

I do not understand why the love of football or basketball is normal conversation, but the love of film and television is weird. Why is it acceptable to become emotionally invested in draft picks and final scores but not casting choices and box office totals?

Culturally, the worlds of sports and media are of equal importance in terms of how they impact our identity as a society. With my column, I hope to create a pop culture companion to the sports page for all of the people out there like me.

I will put a spotlight on local events as I hear of them. I want to highlight and promote as much community involvement as I can. This column will not just be a collection of event calendars, however. I’ll also be doing reviews of films and plays as I see them.

While I enjoy a good box office smash as much as the next person, there is so much more in the world of entertainment to explore.

I’ve determined that part of the problem I have faced has been geographical. If I had grown up in New York City or Los Angeles instead of South Bend, I probably would have met more like-minded pop culture fanatics and been exposed to more options. Part of what I hope to do with this column is provide my readers with those options.

This is not to say, of course, that South Bend is a pop culture dead-zone. Quite the contrary, in fact South Bend is its own little hub of pop culture. The Debartolo Performing Arts Center, for instance, often shows classic and art house films..

Admittedly, the performances and events at these smaller venues tend to be overshadowed by the city’s focus on athletics. The Morris Performing Arts Center, being the main venue in the area, sometimes looks like the only venue. I assure you, dear readers, that there are many more options to consider!

The State theater in downtown South Bend hosts community events and in the past, they have featured interactive screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and special movie marathons. Right now, they are finalizing their schedule for the year and are taking public opinion into account. Links to their surveys can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thestatesb. Make your voice heard!

My goal is to start a dialogue about current events through the lens of pop culture in any way I can. I am grateful for the opportunity to put my passion to use. I look forward to writing this column and I would like to thank you in advance for bearing with me.

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