Pop culture, by definition, is mass media transmitted to everyone around the world (particularly aimed at young people.) From television, movies, books, and music to celebrities, fashion trends, and social media, “bandwagons” in society influence all of our everyday lives. These can have positive influences on our lives. However, if people aren’t careful, they end up idolizing their favorite sources of entertainment, which interferes with our relationship with God. So our question is this: are pop culture influences positive or negative overall?
Pop culture generates connections all over the world. Events such as conventions, concerts, and sporting events bring people of different backgrounds together through common interests. There are also several businesses that have been generated by entertainment. For example there is a Friends-themed café in almost every major city in India. In some Starbucks restaurants around the globe, Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer Lattes are sold. Merchandise for every aspect of pop culture is available as well. Stores such as Hot Topic sell clothing related to music, television, and movie franchises. Entertainment-centric shops like this have created jobs and outlets for fans to support their favorite fandoms.
Gilmore Girls fans line up at a Luke’s Diner pop-up. [Source]
One negative aspect of pop culture is that some people strive to be like their favorite personalities, whether through trends or how they act. Sometimes this can be beneficial, but if a fan is mirroring a character that promotes negative values, the line between reality and fiction in their lives can become blurred. For example, medical interns and residents have endangered patient lives by performing a procedure incorrectly because they saw it done the wrong way on Chicago Med or House. Also, studies show that blood, gore, and violence can have psychological effects on youths. There are ways to avoid these negative effects and still enjoy entertainment and media to the fullest.
Music is a big part of society today. There is a genre for everyone, from pop to classical to rock. Studies show that classical music can help us focus on studying (The Independent). Music can carry good messages, but it is important that we stay away from songs and artists that don’t bring glory to God. Music that is not uplifting, such as songs with hateful messages or explicit language can be harmful psychologically and spiritually.
In this day and age, media works have a great impact on many aspects of our society, perhaps the greatest being the impact they have on other parts of pop culture. Fictional universes, trends, celebrities, and music are woven together, and they often influence each other. The Big Bang Theory commonly references DC and Marvel characters. Grey’s Anatomy characters have made references to Hamilton: An American Musical and Game of Thrones. Celebrity names along with other entertainment references can be seen in Glee. Overall, it’s very interesting to see fictional universes intertwined with each other.
Promotional material for Disney’s Zootopia. The billboards have pun versions of some of today’s popular brands, including Prada (Preyda) and Nike (Just Zoo It). [Source]
Most of all, pop culture can encourage people to aspire to new heights. Media also helps people to be inspired by their cultural interests and become more creative. There have been instances when student fans of Doctor Who take an interest in history and Disney fans try their hand at animation and moviemaking. Science fiction inspires fans to invent the gadgets of tomorrow.
It is speculated that Star Trek inspired the Motorola flip phone. [Source]
Are pop culture influences positive or negative overall? This question does not have a clear answer. All in all, pop culture can be a great outlet to express ourselves, but we need to be careful of how involved we get. Sometimes we need to step back and ask ourselves if we are honoring God through our actions.
Sources: “How Music Could Help You to Concentrate While Studying.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 2 Mar. 2016, www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/Studies/how-music-could-help-you-to-concentrate-while-studying-a6907341.html.