Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for February, 2015

New Trends = Old Trends

Posted by tylerburton230 on February 27, 2015

I find it very true in the saying of history repeats itself. People seem to always go back to the trends of the past in similar ways. For example, there are always “retro” shoes and clothing being put out that become popular. I think music and television have an impact on how we remember things and want to bring back the good old days by using nostalgia. I can’t remember what television show it was, but a show on MTV a few years ago featured the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey in an episode and the song skyrocketed the charts on iTunes. Some things will just never lose their spark and people will always be searching for nostalgia. VH1 usually shows the “I Love the 90’s” or whatever decade you love, because people like reminiscing on the songs and pop culture that they grew up with. I tend to go back and play my pokemon games on the gameboy advance whenever I feel nostalgic. The new trends often seem familiar because more than likely they are similar to what another trend was twenty years ago. One Direction is like the Backstreet Boys or N*Sync of today. Same goes for Hollywood actors and actresses; they get compared to the people that came before them. We tend to like things that are familiar to us and I think that is why the trends we see often reflect trends of the past.


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The Past in the Present

Posted by atgee24 on February 26, 2015

it’s quite a common thing in our society that things from the past pop back up into the present in newer and cooler ways. That’s just how it’s always gone; For example, the whole high waisted shorts thing with girls is like a super big thing now, where that was originally the big style in I think the 80’s? (I could be wrong about the time period, can’t say I keep up with girl’s fashion that much haha) but you get the idea. One thing that I know plenty about that has to do with the past becoming cool in the present is Jordan’s. I know I already kind of touched on this topic last post, but it still fits in great with this topic as well. Michael Jordan released his first signature shoe with Nike in 1985, calling it the Air Jordan 1. It was a hit in the markets & everyone was either buying them or wanted a pair & due to the success, Nike allowed Jordan to keep creating multiple shoes over the length of his career. Jordan ended up making 23 different models of shoes, all in numerical order (1-23) with many different color ways, making them great to collect. As time went on and the success of the shoe just constantly growing, Nike then decided to retro the Jordan’s that Mike had made and re-release them to the public that way the new generations can have them, and as everyone knows, people are still buying them, & still collecting them.

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A Blast From The Past

Posted by karmstrong94 on February 26, 2015

For the past few years now the nostalgia of past decades have emerged into a new “trend”. The reemerging of popular trends from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s have brought back fashion, music, art, and even memories. Many of us turn our iPod or iPhone on shuffle expecting to hear some of the recent songs that we’ve just added, instead we hear a blast from the past that we haven’t heard in years. Think Bryan Adam singing Summer of 69, Rick Springfield singing Jessie’s Girl, or everyone’s all time Backstreet Boys singing I Want it That Way. But why the sudden popularity of the making old things new…AGAIN? Why not leave the past in the past? The past brings up good memories. Who didn’t love waking up on Saturday mornings running down stairs to watch cartoons? Who can forget the in the 90s when classic Disney movies like the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and even Hercules. In the 80s we had the time of big hair, leg warmers, Ghostbusters, and Mr.T. There’s nothing wrong with looking back on the past, especially when it is making a comeback. It’s like reliving our childhood or our teenage years all over again. That moment when that unexpected song from the past comes on we smile, crank up the volume, and sing it at the top of our lungs without missing a single word.

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Reminding me of the past

Posted by Jazzmyn N. A. on February 26, 2015

After reading this part of the chapter, it made me think about all the good shows that were out in the 90’s and early 2000’s. In my opinion, that’s when we had the best cartoons and something to always remember in our child hood. I feel like as a 90’s baby, I had more to watch and chose from than children today. It’s those few shows that kids got that they can remember like Dora The Explora, Go Diego Go, and SpongeBob (and I honestly don’t consider that a cartoon for the new generation, because I remember watching episodes from elementary school. I remember as a child I couldn’t wait to go home to watch Clifford The Big Red Dog or waking up early in the morning on the weekends to watch Little Bill. A lot of these shows kept the same thing and gave audience that certain perspective. We still see that same perspective for shows such as Dora The Explora today, but because we’re at a different generation time and we’re older we will always be like, “The 90’s had all the good cartoons”.

Therefore, even though we consider things as the “new trend”, everything that starts to trend aging is what use to trend back in the day. Since I’m a 90’s kid I will say that even though I don’t watch Dora The Explora that much, it’s one of those shows that brings back educating children at a young age on television. I personally don’t think that shows that educate children today get as much recognition today because everyone is stuck on that mindset that “everything was better back in the day than it is now”.

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I love nostalgia!

Posted by smileytristan on February 26, 2015

Seriously, though. I revel in it. I love rediscovering and rewatching the things I loved as a kid, be it The Secret of N.I.M.H. (my favorite childhood movie) or Courage the Cowardly Dog. There’s something immensely comforting about “reliving the glory days”. I think that’s why nostalgic things keep coming back, whether in remakes, sequels, commercials, what have you. Not only does it have the nostalgic factor going for it, though, but it can often be interesting to see how things were in a different time and place. It helps us understand who we are now as a whole and how we got here and where we can go from here.

The example I like best is how superhero stories, since their inception with (arguably) Superman, are our versions of the Greek tragedies, or, in a broader sense, the moral stories passed down generation to generation. How our ancestors did it. Much in the same way as how a story will change depending on who is telling it, there is an infinite amount of ways to retell a superhero story, or any story for that matter. As with all things, they adapt to the times. That, I think, is one reason pop culture is so prevalent. It’s meant to play on what appeals to us in this day and age, and a big part of that is nostalgia.

Another poster on here made the statement that nothing is really “new”, and while I partially agreed, there can still be original thinkers and ideas as long as people have imagination. Surely, one can think of a few things pop culture wise that are timeless and enduring and can never be topped. My go-to example is Avatar: The Last Airbender. There is always some new path waiting to be discovered. Think of your grandparents, who were born way back when and lived to see the dawn of the digital age. Just think of what is possible in the years to come.

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People Never Change

Posted by willwalters441 on February 26, 2015

I read a lot, and an important part of any story is the characters in it. One thing I notice a lot is when characters in a book remind me of people that I know in real life. I can read The Great Gatsby and think to myself, “Wow, Daisy Buchannan really reminds me of such and such person that I know.” Or, going back earlier, I can read books by Jane Austen and be reminded of a certain thing that happened with some girl. Or, I can go back way earlier and make the totally accurate statement that Don Quixote is a lot like my roommate.

It’s surprising a lot of the time when a character written about so long ago, with such antiquated sensibilities, resembles so strongly someone I know today. Or maybe it’s not so surprising. After all, people don’t really change that much, it seems. Whether it’s an age of smart phones and smart cars and smart water, or an age with normal phones and normal cars and normal water, or an age with no phones and no cars and water from wells, humans are still mainly the same, just with a few small differences here and there, though that may be understating it a little.

And that’s why I think so much content from the past appeals to us now, in the future. It was already made to appeal to humans once, why not again? All that it takes is for something to bring it back to modern attention, and the retromedia takes on a new life.

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’95 is the New ’15

Posted by blakeanderson000 on February 26, 2015

The second half of the second chapter really got me thinking about what stuff from the past has transcended to the present, and made an impact as well.  I soon realized that there are many ways that stuff from the past have impacted the present.

The most common example is when stuff from the past becomes hot again.  Let’s face it, we’ve all seen something become hot recently that we all thought was dead.  Ever had that moment when you saw something from the past on display at a major retail store and think, “What?!  I thought those were dead!”  Then, when you realize they’ve become hot again, you’d be like, “Well raise the roof!”  Yeah…sorry.  Anyway, I’ve seen my fair share of things like that.  The two most prime examples I can think of as far as material items are Polaroids and vinyl records.  I myself have had a Polaroid camera growing up, and I loved it.  I remember burning through those 10-packs like I was a paparazzo snapping Beyonce.  Then, in 2008, Polaroid went under.  The reason, digital photography and it’s impact on the youth of America.  But, hold on!  A few years later, it started to come back, via Fujifilm’s Instax camera models and independent film-making company The Impossible Project.  The reason?  Digital photography and it’s impact on the youth of America!  It seems whenever something new goes mainstream that replaces the old, after a while, the younger generation always seem to get curious about the past.  When something from the past becomes available, they buy it.  When it’s good enough, word of mouth spreads.  I am personally the owner of a Fujifilm Instax camera myself and I love it!  I can now show my younger cousins who have never seen or heard of Polaroids before the wonderful magic of instant photography.  Oh, and the Polaroid?  It’s still with me on top of a shelf, waiting to become a collectible.

Okay, now to vinyl.  I’m sure everyone might think, “After 20 years of it being non-existent, how does something seemingly so outdated come back…and attract the younger crowd nonetheless?!”  Well, I believe that answer comes after digital technology came, the same reason as the Polaroids!  As a song is no longer a song, but a file, you can’t feel it, touch it, smell it (I know that sounds weird, but…vinyl smells good…).  It seems every human being, no matter the age, loves the feeling of holding something made with craft by the work of man, not machine.  I mean iPods are cool, but you don’t get the same rawness you get with a vinyl, and not just the sound.  You feel the album, you touch the ridges and grooves, you smell the giant disk.  You just don’t get that with a file.  I guess overall, the reason why old physical stuff comes back is because of that fact…it’s physical.  You feel more proud to own it.  It’s just that simple.

Another example of something coming back is when it constantly is shown throughout generations.  The example in the book is Scooby-Doo, but my example is going to be Peanuts.  We all remember the adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all the other kids growing up, whether it would be reading them in book form or just watching all the holiday specials.  So, why it is that it’s so remembered by everyone?  I think the reason why is because it is a timeless piece.  The message in the strip about bullying and the character of Charlie Brown himself with his self-loathing is simply identifiable with people of all generations.  Wherever, whenever, there are people going through what Charlie Brown went through, and have found comfort in reading the strip or watching the specials, knowing that, in some sense, they were not alone.  Now, although this cartoon has been out of the limelight for a while, only appearing in the form of holiday specials and the occasional commercial and book collection, I feel that starting this Thanksgiving, with the new Peanuts movie, it’s going to get well-known again.  With this new movie, parents will take their kids to have them see something that mommy and daddy grew up watching, and maybe those kids will become fans as well, and boom!  New fans, new marketing.  Pretty clever, if you ask me.

Finally, I want to talk about something that becomes popular that never was popular to start with.  In other words, something that saw new found popularity after a certain time frame or event happened.  In modern times, it was Fun. They are an indie group that released a song called “We Are Young” as part of their second album.  The song managed to chart at number 59 or something, then fall out of the Billboard Hot 100 the next week.  Pretty typical for an indie band.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the song was featured in a Super Bowl commercial, watched by over 100 million people, and also featured on Glee.  Within a few days, people began looking up the song, curious to wonder what that jam was!  Then, in a few weeks, the song reached number one on the Hot 100.  Their next single, Some Nights, had the same fate.  It too was released before We Are Young became popular.  After the We Are Young phenomenon, people began wondering if there was any more good jams from Fun., and found this song.  That song would end up at number three on the Hot 100.  Then, the album sales started increasing, and soon Fun. were rolling in a sea of Benjamins.  None of this would have been possible without the help of some other form of entertainment to give it that big boost.

The other example I wanted to give was something that is so old, you probably wouldn’t believe it wasn’t successful in its original run.  It was the story…of a lovely lady…who…oh, you know it.  It’s the Brady Bunch!  Yes, believe it or not, it was considered a flop when it first aired on ABC.  The creator, Sheerwood Schwartz, who recently came off the heels of Guilligan’s Island, a surprise hit for him, wanted to make a more contemporary show, showcasing the average family with life lessons and modern issues to boot.  The result was a show that seemed promising, but never connected with an audience.  It was either too far ahead of its time or was too boring compared to other shows.  It never received good ratings and won no awards during its five season run.  But, some number of years after it was cancelled, the episodes, now under syndication, started to generate a steady growth of an audience, and soon gained cultural status.  But, why now?  Why not then?  We might not completely know, but what we do know was that Sheerwood took advantage of it!  Throughout the Seventies and Eigthies, multiple spin-off shows were broadcast, and even produced two successful movies in the Nineties.  What a great way to prove to someone that their work’s not dead!

So, why do old things become popular again?  Well, it might be the nostalgia.  It might be timeless.  It might have been too far ahead of its time.  Whatever the reason, I believe the true underlying reason why old stuff spreads is because of one particular generation: the new generation.  The generation who show great interest in the oldies and turn them into goodies.  In other words, they take something OG, and make them fly!  Yeah, I’m SO not good at this kind of talk.  I should stop now…

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Twin Peaks – Media Curation

Posted by willwalters441 on February 26, 2015

Twin Peaks is a TV show that aired on ABC from 1990 to 1991, directed by David Lynch, known for his surreal and often disturbing movies. His track record, then, was perfect, to put a show on a major network during primetime hours. What resulted was Twin Peaks.

By form, it’s a soap opera. Several characters are followed, with a few being more central than others, but all of their stories being told serially over long stretches of time. But at the same time, it comes off tongue-in-cheek. It alternates between being a pastiche and a parody of the soap opera form, so you can never quite tell if it’s making fun of soap operas, or is imitating them. And on top of that, David Lynch’s signature weirdness shows up from time to time. So, you can go from scenes like this:

with incredible overacting and uncomfortable camera shots, directly to this:

which makes almost even less sense in context.

I chose this piece of media for this specific section because of what happened to the show about a third of the way through its second season. The main plot of the show and the impetus for the focal character, Special Agent Dale Cooper, to come to Twin Peaks, was the murder of Laura Palmer. Laura was basically the most beloved girl in Twin Peaks. She was the homecoming queen and a member of several charitable organizations, and was well known and liked by everyone in the town. Or, at least, it seemed that way. Over time it’s revealed that she was dating at least two boys (and was involved sexually with many, many more), was a part of a cocaine trade, and a ton of other things. Finding this out and getting closer to solving the murder was the point of the show up until Episode 7 of Season 2, when the murderer’s identity is revealed. David Lynch bowed to pressure from the network to reveal who the murderer was in order to appease the fanbase, who wanted to know. The only problem was, two-thirds of the season was left.

The plot strung itself along for many more episodes, but things kept piling up that made the show harder to watch. For one thing, Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne (age: 18) had a tentative romance going through the first season and into the second, when Kyle MacLachlan (the actor playing Cooper) was told by his girlfriend at the time to stop that subplot. So both characters had new love interests written in. Other subplots became long and drawn out, like one in which a character leaves Twin Peaks and gets framed for murder, or another in which a police officer gets involved in a paternity struggle. Ratings dropped, and in an effort to regain them and get renewed for a third season, Lynch ends the season finale on a huge cliffhanger. And… there was never a third season. Which left every plot thread unresolved.

Twin Peaks is an example of a media text that fell out of centrality. Its efforts to regain that position ensured its fall from grace, as it were. But (in an example of a retro brand) Showtime has recently announced that they will be airing a sequel (of sorts) to the series. It will take place 25 years after the events of the original, and I am incredibly excited to see the revival of the show.

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Scooby- Doo: Nostalgia and Camp

Posted by kaleechism2018 on February 25, 2015

One section of this reading that really stuck out to me is the section on Scooby- Doo, maybe this is just because I was obsessed with Scooby- Doo as a child, or maybe it’s because he is such a staple in childhood culture still to this day that it just stuck in my mind. In this section, Kevin Sandler is quoted saying that Scooby- Doo “spans more than four decades of television programming from 1969 to the present, appearing in thirteen different original series on various broadcast and cable television networks.” To me, this just shows how much of an icon Scooby- Doo is, and the fact that he has lasted so long is just a testament to his importance and prominence is childhood culture, even today. This section attests Scooby- Doo’s continued success to two main aspects: his ability to reinvent himself to please the current generation of children’s interest, and how he is able to maintain relationships the older fans who grew up with him. These two main aspects are said to give the character “the object of both camp and nostalgia.” To have a cartoon character be successful for this long is a miracle in itself, especially in this day and age where things are popular for one minute and forgotten about the next. His success with the newer generations can mostly be attributed to the constant group of new writers hired to keep the character up- to- date, but also the same people who have been there for years that can keep the goofy, lovable atmosphere we all know and love. In conclusion, Scooby- Doo’s success is attributed to his ability to adapt yet keep the same qualities, and his ability to be loved by so many generations.

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I Love the (Insert Decade Here)

Posted by natkscience on February 25, 2015

The second part of this chapter made me think of the intense popularity of  That 70’s Show which aired for the first time in 98’.  If that show had kept all of the same aspects (the cast, the plots, the jokes) except the fact that it took place in the 70’s would it have been as popular?  I know they tried to make a spin off series, That 80’s Show, which did not last long at all even though it had a pretty great cast (The actor who plays Dennis Reynolds in ‘It’s always Sunny…’ was the main character).  That 70’s show was seriously funny but it relied almost entirely on nostalgia to gain its audiences.  Maybe in 2000, the 80’s just weren’t far enough back in the past to make That 80’s Show as a success as That 70’s Show.

Right around the time That 70’s Show was airing, VH1 had started an entirely nostalgia based series; the ‘I Love the (insert decade here…80’s, 70’s, 60’s)’.  The entirety of that show was just of people listing off what songs came out, what movies were popular, what toy did every kid have, which celebrity was the hottest…and it was a huge hit while it was on.  This series was popular enough that it got a reboot of some kind called ‘I Love the 80’s Strikes Back’.  It was a play on the Star Wars movie which came out in the 80’s.  I think the majority of the viewer’s just enjoyed seeing the things that they grew up with.  Not too dissimilar from That 70’s Show which gained popularity partly by bringing back the unique aspects of the 70’s like the clothes, the hair,  and the colorful decor.

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