My first idea of pop culture was purely music and I related the term with my favorite artists such as Eminem and Kanye West. The weekly readings have enlightened me to the broadness of the term and I view pop culture differently. It can be music or anything that represents beliefs and symbols that identify people within the society. I identify with hip-hop music because it gives me an opportunity to review my life and how my actions influence the experience of other people. Hip-hop music tackles many ideologies and that gives me a chance to build on my philosophical foundations. For instance, listening to Royce Da 5’9 rap about depression and the need to check on friends encouraged me to keep a keen interest in my friends to ensure that they are doing fine. Lastly, I think that people like me have been facing oppositional gaze from the media and music. White male people are blamed for almost all problems in the society.
Admittedly, I only thought about pop culture from the perspective of music when I wrote the first essay. For me, the concept of pop culture was personified by popular artists such as Eminem and Kanye West. While these celebrities are part of pop culture, I came to learn that the term is broader than music through class readings and discussions. Definitions of popular culture in the first week changed my perspective on the term as I learned about the different schools of thought and how their views differ regarding how they treat the subject of culture. For instance, the production perspective on culture noted how artists mobilize social resources to produce elements of culture that are popular among many people.
The class readings changed my definition of pop culture and now I view it as the “existence of objects” that dominate thoughts, beliefs and values among a given population. For instance, the smartphone is one of the main objects that define young people in the world today, considering its broad usage that spans from watching movies, chatting with friends and family as well as listening to music. Thinking about pop culture from this perspective, I feel that I have been greatly influenced by popular culture. On a normal day I cannot go for more than thirty minutes without checking on my phone, whether I am checking out the time or following on a chat in a group on Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The phone as an object that represents popular culture in the world today dominates my days and I spend a lot of time reading, listening to music, playing games or chatting with friends on my phone. Thus, the way that my day will pan out is immensely influenced by pop culture if I view the subject from lessons learned in the first week readings.
Just like I wrote in the first essay, rap and hip-hop are the musical genres that shape my life the most. Rap or hip-hop music differs from other music genres in the way it asks questions about sociopolitical issues in the society. When I think about hip-hop as an ideological tool, several artists come to mind with regard to the way they shape the way I think about issues (Meyer, 2016). Royce Da 5’9 is one of these artists and his new album dubbed “Cocaine” is a musical journey that delves into the topics of drugs and depression. He encourages his listeners to “check on their strong friends” in a song that digs into the problem of depression and how it is spreading out of control. I can easily identify with Royce Da 5’9 because I have had depressed friends in my life and news headlines have been awash with celebrity suicide cases that tell us that no one is too strong (Ristaniemi, 2018). Ideologically, Royce’s music captures the challenges that affect people in large numbers in the United States and around the world.
Again, hip-hop music is a part of popular culture that I can identify with, particularly considering the versatility of the music, its ability to blend with other forms of music like punk and alternative rock and its expansiveness with regard to how it gives an artist an opportunity to express himself. Hip-hop music enables me to participate in conversations that enhance my cultural potency and my ability to contribute in the betterment of my society, even if I do that in a small way (Shanks, 2017). The subject of race and ethnic relations in the United States comes up in hip-hop music a great deal and I support artists who express their disappointment with class and rank racism that bedevils the American society. Earlier this year, I identified with issues raised by Kendrick Lamar in the album “Black Panther” that accompanied the film with the same name. The subject of equality from the perspective of giving everyone an equal chance is discussed in the album and I strongly felt that no one should be disadvantaged by their race or ethnicity (Ferguson & Burkhalter, 2015). In the words of Sza who stars in the song “All my Stars”, everyone should have his/her dreams “let them know that all their stars are closer”. I strongly identify with rap and hip-hop because it facilitates my thinking and awareness of issues that affect my society and that gives me cultural potency.
From a brands perspective, I think that Bose, the headphones brand, represents my personality the most. The headphones are made for cool people and there are different versions, ranging from wireless earphones to big headphones that one can use in different situations. I have a collection of Bose headphones that I use for different occasions and I usually find myself browsing the internet for new releases. When I think about the Bose company, I am filled with admiration at the way they invest a lot of money and resources to research about sound and how they make sure that their customers are satisfied. My gaze is that of admiration and wish that I can create a company with such capabilities in the future (Hooks, 2010). I follow Bose on social media and I make sure that I give feedback on their new releases, hoping that the next release of headphones will be much better.
I think people like me get represented in popular culture in a couple of ways. As a young white male, I feel that the media has been rough on me because I am usually blamed for everything. Musically, I am a subject of ridicule even from artists I love and I think that we get misunderstood by people. While I do not support divisive politics and racism, I am usually classified with people who are thought to have class and race privileges and that ignores the fact that I have to work hard like everyone and make it in life. Opinion articles in such major dailies like New York Times depict us as the enemy to everyone, from women, people of color to democracy and I consider this as oppositional gaze.