Opinion: Pop culture is foundation of today’s world

Kent Kirker is a junior education major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.  Contact him at [email protected].

Kent Kirker

Pop culture is a relatively new term in today’s lexicon. The term “popular culture,” according to various sources, was coined around the 19th century and essentially referred to a refined form in the middle or lower classes, as opposed to the “official culture” of the upper class. The shortened form of the term emerged in the 1950s and has various meanings depending on the situation in today’s vernacular. Pop culture has defined a generation of not just Americans but people worldwide.

Present-day use of the term “pop culture” began in the 1950s, when the original term was shortened from “popular” to “pop.” One of the most popular definitions of the term refers to the mass appeal of certain aspects of cultures. Based on the Oxford Dictionary, the present definition of the term is “modern popular culture transmitted via mass media and aimed particularly at younger people.” I feel the basis of this definition comes from redefining the term with time as it was applied and accepted by past generations. It is the youth who are more accepting of change and therein more accustomed to the current trends of the day than older generations.

Many see the 1950s as the beginning of the loss of innocence in an ever-evolving generation. The youth of that generation had access to more revolutionary technology than their parents ever did, such as television, and a greater variety of evolving music. With this changing culture and the alertness of youth to it, a source of mass appeal began to take shape. Advertising companies took advantage of the pop culture boom to target a newer, younger demographic. In turn, this target advertising increased the appeal of various consumer products exponentially.

Pop culture is all around us. For instance, the 1980s brought us Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” a music video that still defines music media to this day. “Thriller” was a pop-culture explosion that brought people all over the world together for 15 minutes in time and defined a generation. Jackson isn’t the only example of modern pop culture — it’s in our movies, our TV shows and even our books. Directors, authors, producers and radio stations cultivate the pop culture appeal into their various forms of media because it appeals to a mass audience and brings in a greater amount of revenue.

Pop culture continues to affect us every day. Everywhere we turn, we are met with the lasting effects of current trends. Whether it’s in our conversations, the news we watch or the papers we read, we are all affected in one way or another. Today’s society thrives on popular culture for entertainment, education and human interaction. So it’s safe to say that while we all are affected, most of us learn from it and continue to live our lives making collective decisions and choices based more often than not on our observance of pop culture.