Keeping an open mind to pop culture and its followers


By Emma Goodwin

When it comes to the music universe — which, let’s be honest, has basically monopolized my entire being — there are two things I have come to respect and appreciate time and time again. The first is my father and his complete disregard for genre. The man has praised rappers, pop stars and the world’s greatest, abandoning bias for the greater musical good in a way that mimics the second thing I adore.

Rolling Stone magazine — a publication widely respected for honest music reviews — also spans every genre. Giving fair, honest, respectful and non-demeaning reviews to all artists, pinning The Jonas Brothers and One Direction on the same page as award winners like Beck.

When it comes to those involved in the music world, these are people doing it right – displaying an ability to look at Justin Bieber as a musical artist rather than depreciating him because 99.9 percent of his fan base is made up of adolescent girls.

This type of disregard is clearly present in the musical world; seeing who a band’s fans are, and if the fans aren’t deemed musically savvy, well, the band must be awful, too.

But these types of judgements clearly exampled by Carly Rae Jepsen or The Backstreet Boys a few years back have been seeping into other pop-culture arenas as well.

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I find myself having to bite my tongue before I say I love Cosmopolitan, my favorite television show is The Mindy Project and one of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail (the one time I made the “mistake” of admitting this in a Media class, I was met with laughter and slight disregard for my following opinions on cinematic works).

But the problem is not that I like these things, the problem represented here is two-fold.

First of all, it is unfair to take one aspect of a person’s pop-culture preferences and make judgements about their taste — pigeonholing them into a lower standard of appreciation because of the merits you have assigned a certain piece of work. It is also unfair to do the opposite and see who likes a certain piece of work, and judging that work by who enjoys it rather than experiencing and evaluating it for yourself with a clear mind.

And second of all, all of the things people get judged for liking, most of the time, haven’t been evaluated fairly. Or they haven’t been given second chances after periods of evolution.

I enjoy Cosmopolitan for their funny, sarcastic reporting, but also for their intensely feminist manifestos and moral preachings about the right and wrong treatment of people. The Mindy Project is one of the only successful shows to display characters in love rather than in limbo and hit its stride while doing so (take that Sydney Pollack!). And “You’ve Got Mail”? Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan paying tribute to Jimmy Stewart in a sweet rendition of “The Shop Around the Corner”? Don’t even try to hate.

And not that I — or anybody else — should have to validate taste, but it is possible to enjoy all of these things while still reading The New York Times and The Onion; while liking “Transparent;” while lauding Wes Anderson.

I can love One Direction until the world ends — and I probably will. But it makes no sense that that infatuation could ever impede upon my ability to evaluate other musical selections or genres.

So yes, this can be perhaps taken as a plea to stop the judgements and assumptions about people and the things they like. And absolutely people need to stop doing those things and stop scoffing when they see certain artists on a person’s iPod.

But, like I said, the problem is two-fold, and it also comes with an urgency to reevaluate and do so without bias. We judge based on first impressions: First episodes, first listens, first five minutes.

And none of that is fair. The first episode of “Parks and Recreation” — heck, the first season — was a mess compared to the rest of the series. The first listen of Wilco’s “Star Wars” was rougher than I would like to admit. The first five minutes of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” bore me to death.

And similarly, “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Call Me Maybe” have a tendency to write off artists as pop-trash when they’ve grown and changed.

It’s not fair to keep outdated perspectives of things we no longer — or more likely never did — understand. And it’s unfair to judge others because of those false perceptions.

So next time someone tells you they like One Direction, make sure you’ve listened to “Four” before you judge the band or the person. In the same way artists like Taylor Swift have evolved, so have others who are still constantly tossed to the side. Artists (as well as their fans) are constantly evolving — and yet, our judgements are staying the same.

So until you give works of art their due process – along the same lines of a Rolling Stone review — you have no right to deem it unacceptable or lacking talent, and the same goes for the fans, whose interests are likely multifaceted and complex rather than limited.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

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