Week One: What is popular culture? And, why does it matter?
- Where has Freccero taught courses on popular culture? How did these different experiences influence Freccero’s style of teaching or pedagogy?
Freccero has taught courses on popular culture at Dartmouth College and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Dartmouth, as expected, was a strongly conservative college. Her students didn’t really feel like pop culture was important and she had to find ways to convince them it was important. Santa Cruz is the exact opposite. It is as liberal as a school can be, so teaching popular culture would be more accepted than a conservative school.
- What are the primary reasons Freccero gives for teaching popular culture? What do you think of her reasons? What reasons would you give for studying popular culture?
Freccero says that “public culture” already studies pop culture. It already argues, praises, or condemns pop culture so it’s not like studying popular culture in a classroom is a radical idea. She also mentions “Cultural Literacy”. Her reasons are valid enough, her first one especially. Pop culture dominates our daily lives and to not study it would be foolish. A reason I would give for studying pop culture is to get an upperhand in business. If you know what’s popular (especially amongst 18-24 year olds), then it should be easier to market to them.
- Freccero’s piece is from the introduction to her book Popular Culture: An Introduction, which was published in 1999. How has the popular culture landscape changed since the time that Freccero initially wrote and published her book? What examples would you suggest to make the chapter more relevant to audiences and readers of 2011/12?
In 1999, the biggest medium for pop culture was television. In 2012, it is without a doubt the internet. Now people can get their fifteen minutes of fame by making a subpar music video with horrible singing (ala Rebecca Black). Memes and their continuing popularity would get a huge spot in today’s version of this chapter. Sites like 4chan, Reddit, and Tumblr would have their own chapter as the genesis of many pop culture waves and memes.
- What specific advice does the author of “How to be a fan of problematic things” give to her readers? What problematic things are you a fan of?
You must acknowledge the thing that is problematic and refuse to make excuses for why it is problematic. You must take a step back and learn how to argue and criticize something you like without taking those arguments personally. You have to take other people’s views and criticism of your problematic thing and respect that opinion. I am a fan of Big L, the Wu Tang Clan, and Kanye West who have been accused of misogyny and homophobia.
- According to s.e. smith, what is wrong with the idea that pop culture is ‘just’ entertainment? Identify times and places when you have heard people make this argument.
Smith argues that you can’t dismiss a show, movie, commercial or video game as “just” a show, movie, commercial or video game because it represents, subconsciously, how certain people perceive themselves and others in a certain culture. My friends argue that Go Daddy commercials are funny and “just” commercials. But it shows the people that created it think women and their bodies are just objects to control or manipulate men into buying a product/service while simultaneous hurting the feminist movement.