Monday, December 26, 2011

The Slack-Jawed "WHAT?"

I have friends, believe it or not, friends who are In Touch with popular culture (or, as I believe the kids are calling it these days, "popped culture", though I might be wrong about that). I myself am not particularly culture-savvy. I mean, I know that the Spiderman movies are the hot new superhero thing, what with Tobias Macguire (son of Mark Macguire, famous football player). And I hear that Mr. Marshall Mathers has been releasing several new songs to the public, some of his rappings. But I'm not...In Touch with popular culture the way a lot of people are.

In all seriousness, I'm rather interested by the bug-eyed, slack-jawed "WHAT!?!?!!!" reaction I get when I:

a) announce that I'm unfamiliar with some apparently pivotal part of American popular culture.

HER: Just like in Jaws!
ME: I never actually saw Jaws.
HER: WHAT!?!?!?!!!
b) announce that I don't appreciate an apparently pivotal part of American popular culture.

HIM: Listen, it's a Michael Jackson song!
ME: Yech, I really don't like Michael Jackson.
HIM: WHAT!?!?!?!!!
I have actually begun to predict when the WHAT!?!?!?!!! will happen. Some things are WHAT-worthy (I never saw The Big Lebowski. WHAT!?!?!?!!!), and some things are not (I don't really like the little-known John Carpenter-penned sci-fi film The Philadelphia Experiment. *crickets*).

The WHAT!?!?!?!!! is beginning to get to me. It's a knee-jerk reaction, of course, but the underlying mentality is rather disturbing. It betrays this conception that there is a certain pool of experience from which everyone usually drinks, and if you don't drink from it, you're...weird. While I accept the existence of the pool, I don't appreciate the judgement.

I try to follow my own tastes. It doesn't always work, of course: I am more likely to see a film if it receives approbation from critical observers. But I'm trying to develop my own critical palate. It's depressing, every time I hear a WHAT!?!?!?!!!, to remember that the majority of consumers in America (and possibly worldwide, but I'll only stretch my uninformed opinion so far) willingly drink from the popular pool of experience, and don't think about what they're drinking.

Long live semi-independent thought!

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