Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Why do some people always pooh-pooh popular culture?

Asked by wundayatta (58357 points ) December 6th, 2012

When I saw Gangnam style for the first time, it was my kids that introduced me via SNL. Then I started studying up on it and watching more videos, and I developed a huge appreciation for it.

Over Thanksgiving, I gave my parents and assembled guests a fairly significant lecture about all I had learned, leading up to a presentation of several videos. Of course, my father’s reaction was instant and probably predictable. “Oh god!” Then he sniffs derisively.

There are people on fluther who have the same reaction. I suspect they have never even seen the video and don’t know what they are talking about, but it’s possible they have, and have reasoned arguments about why this is beneath notice. What are those arguments?

Not just Gangnam style, but any other form of popular culture that people might show their disdain for. Like summer reading instead of literature. Or tacky wall hangings instead of Monet and Degas. Or even Monet and Degas instead of Van Gogh or Da Vinci. Led Zeppelin instead of Beethoven. John Cage instead of Aaron Copland. Popular or avant garde vs lettered and staid.

Is it necessary to be a snob? To look down on the popular? To deny that it has any worth? Why do people do that?

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26 Answers

Shippy's avatar

Some people by nature are hungry for change and Popular Culture feeds this. Others prefer that which is familiar. The introduction and first experience I believe can have an effect on how one perceives new ideas. Popular Culture to me, is also a denotation of what is circumvent in our society today. This can scare people. Particularly when old ways of thinking are assimilated and used daily. This new information can shake their basic core. Take Duchamps toilet exhibition for example.

Brian1946's avatar

The people who pooh pooh pop culture are probably consuming the high-fiber variety. Otherwise, the alternative is cultural constipation. ;-)

Leanne1986's avatar

It’s a form of snobbery in my opinion. People like to say they don’t like the mainstream because it makes them (think they appear) cool and edgy. How many times do we hear people (young people as well as the older) say that today’s music is rubbish? Whilst I agree that some of it is, some of it is great and that’s the same for every generation of music, some is good, some is shit.

As for the older generation that look down on today’s fashions, I think that is more because of how different it is than in their day. My grandmother has said on a number of occassions that nothing is as good as it was “in her day” but every so often she forgets herself and will look up and claim to really like something new (music, fashion, films etc). There is nothing wrong with really appreciating the lesser known things whilst still enjoying the more mainstream and I wish people would be more open minded in that sense.

I love the fact that you studied Gangnam Style in such depth! All I know is that I can’t help giggling when I see the video so I would be a massive hypocrit if I claimed to hate it!!!

glacial's avatar

You say that as if snobbery is a bad thing…

Leanne1986's avatar

@glacial I think if it causes someone to be closed minded then it is.

glacial's avatar

@Leanne1986 I was kidding,.. sort of.

But, you know – people who like Gangnam Style dislike other things; we all have personal tastes. I don’t know if I agree that there’s a phenomenon of haters who are down on popular things just because they are popular… oh wait… hipsters. And everyone else looks down on them, so… <cue Circle of Life>

gorillapaws's avatar

I think there has been a massive decline in the quality of music over the years. America was producing fantastic stuff for the better part of the 1900’s but then it became about style over substance, with most pop singers having their stuff ghost-written for them. I’m sorry but you can’t claim to be a musician if you’re taking credit for other people’s work, lip-syncing (as not to interfere with the dance moves), or other cheesy music industry crap.

I like how the grunge movement was a reaction against the New Kids on the Block crap of the 80’s, and I think we’re long overdue for another sea-change in the music industry. Honest music that comes from personal expression. I think (nearly) all styles of music are capable of producing great music, but so little of it makes it through the filter of the modern record industry. There are good ones out there though; have a listen to Rodrigo y Gabriela, I’m surprised the record companies didn’t force them to play in the shadows while an autotuned male model danced around on stage karaoking it up.

Leanne1986's avatar

@glacial ”<cue Circle of Life>” love it!

cookieman's avatar

No need to be a snob – but if something is terrible, it’s terrible. Luckily, it’s all subjective.

ragingloli's avatar

The music is repetitive, simplistic and artificial and the “lyrics” are asinine. What is there not to hate?

burntbonez's avatar

They probably don’t understand. Maybe they don’t dance. Maybe they aren’t part of the culture. Maybe they feel defensive, like somehow the new culture is an attack on the old. Which it could be. If people forget the old culture, it becomes irrelevant. So people maybe feel like time is passing them by, and they are slowly stepping into their own graves.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

It’s popular to be edgy.

zensky's avatar

Every summer – and sometimes twice a year – there is a pop song du jour. It’s catchy, addictive and usually features forgetable or even inane lyrics. The difference between Gangnam style and, say, Cuz I got high or whatever – is that now we also count how many “hits” the internet clip got. It’s still just a catchy, lite, cheesepuff of a song. To put it in the same breath or even paragraph as Da Vinci and Van Gogh, or even Led Zep – I’m gonna have to pooh pooh YOU.

glacial's avatar

Ah, “pooh pooh YOU”. A classic Stones album.

wundayatta's avatar

@zensky Dude, you need to get out more. Watch the concert video. You will be cheered up for hours. The whole thing is so ironic and so funny. Perhaps it should be compared more to Gulliver’s Travels than Led Zeppelin.

gorillapaws's avatar

@wundayatta maybe Weird Al Yankovic instead of Gulliver’s Travels.

ucme's avatar

People who literally do this across the board have their heads stuck up their arseholes.
If I like the sound or look of something then that’s it, regardless of the supposed merits of whatever it may be.
That tune is fucking pants though.

Gabby101's avatar

Plenty of people don’t evolve from high school, where it is important to fit in by liking or dislking the same things that your group of friends does. The key is to have confidence in and passion for what you like and also a sense of humor. I often like bands that the cool kids hate, so I always make a joke about my horrible taste in music and then it is no fun for people to act snobbish, because I’m admitting that my tastes are “popular.”

Other people just get stuck in the past and can’t learn to respect new fashion (music, clothes, movies, etc.) and the fact that things are changing just makes them crabby. I would also add that many companies focus on products for younger people leaving less and less choice for older people. If the average age of consumers for a product starts to get too old, the company will think about replacing it with something that will appeal to younger folks, which sucks. If you think about movies that your grandmother might enjoy, there aren’t many of them out there. I’m sure the blames goes to “pop culture.”

wundayatta's avatar

@gorillapaws Weird Al parodies music. Swift parodied society. Gangnam Style is a parody of a social phenomenon. I stick with Gulliver. Weird Al is not that serious.

That makes it even more ironic, since most people think it’s just pop. They have no idea what is going on inside that tune or the dance and so on. They think SNL is making fun of something stupid, not realizing that SNL is already a second level parody. It’s just too delicious to be true.

zensky's avatar

Here is the translation of your Swift Shakespeare PSY:

A girl who is warm and humanle during the day
A classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee
A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes
A girl with that kind of twist

I’m a guy
A guy who is as warm as you during the day
A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down
A guy whose heart bursts when night comes
That kind of guy

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensable girl like that

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two

You know what I’m saying
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

Such social commentary and depth.

wundayatta's avatar

@zensky Cool. You did research! Do you understand what is being said here? Do you know what Oppa means? Do you know the role of Oppa in Korea? Do you know what kind of neighborhood Gangnam is, and what happens there? What kind of business goes on? Do you know the role of Gangnam in overall Korean culture? If you know these things, you’ll know what the words mean, what Gangnam style is, and how he is skewering it. If not, you’ll take it at face value and think it’s stupid.

Which is exactly how he can skewer all the Oppas and their sexy ladies to their faces and have them loving it. Not to mention it is one of the most infectious happy songs ever. Totally brilliant!

zensky's avatar

Yes – but I’d compare it to, say, Weird Al – not the fucking Bard, man.

zensky's avatar

And then there’s PSY’s calling for the slow and painful death of American soldiers, the little asshole

ragingloli's avatar

soldiers war criminals.

ucme's avatar

only the germans

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