If you want people to think you’re a smart guy, it’s probably best that you steer clear of pop culture. Especially television.
You know, that place that made these people famous:
They don’t call it the boob tube for no good reason.
And it’s no coincidence that, as the number of television channels expanded, so did American waistlines. Television, America’s greatest purveyor of pop culture, is a kind of sugary, addictive brain candy that also makes your body fat.
You won’t have to conduct some scientific study at a major university to figure out that the less TV a person watches the better off that person is. Not just physically better off, but emotionally and intellectually better, too.
And there’s nothing on TV that will in any way make us think about things philosophically.
I think it goes without saying that the less TV we watch the better people we are, but there’s one thing that those who don’t spend their days in front of a glowing monitor (be it a computer or a television set) miss out on: pop culture.
Pop culture is:
…the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are preferred by an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture… this culture permeates the everyday lives of the society.
As much as we may hate to admit it, there’s a reason why many of us will “get” this image:
Or will find this meme funny:
Or immediately know this line and the name of the movie it comes from:
It is because by being tuned in to pop culture, we are plugged in to a culturally-based collective consciousness that allows us to communicate ideas, thoughts, theories, even jokes.
Try talking to someone who doesn’t pay attention to pop culture. You’ll find you won’t have much to talk about at all.
And one of those things you probably won’t talk about is the recent controversy over remarks made by Phil Robertson, star and patriarch of the basic cable reality television show, Duck Dynasty. The plot of the show centers around the day-to-day misadventures and family mayhem of Robertson and his family, who became extremely rich off of the duck call business.
Robertson was accused of making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ Magazine.
Now for those of you who neither follow popular culture nor watch reality TV (because no one does, right?) this is what Phil Robertson said:
It seems like to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me.
And Robertson said:
There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on dudes! But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man.
Robertson stated that homosexual behavior is connected with “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman,” and that gays “ won’t inherit the kingdom of God. It’s not right.”
Naturally, many people were angered by Robertson’s sentiments.
In response to the public outcry, A&E, the network that airs Duck Dynasty, suspended Robertson from the show.
That prompted Robertson’s supporters, like former Alaska governor and 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, to tweet this:
Of course, pop culture being what it is, Phil Robertson not only dominated the broadcast airwaves, he became a meme as well.
Now, some people say all of this arguing over the opinion of a reality TV star is nothing more than a waste of time. A distraction. We should be focused on other, more important matters.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and beliefs, even if their opinions and beliefs offend other people.
I guess it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that everybody’s got their own way of seeing things, but listen: the fact that a particular point of view came from the mouth of a reality TV star or they say it while there are other, important things going on, doesn’t mean that what the person said isn’t important.
And it doesn’t mean that the situation can’t get us thinking philosophically.
There’s a reason why people were offended by what Phil Robertson said.
And no, it’s not because some people are easily butthurt.
People were offended by what Phil Robertson said because they felt that what he said is wrong. They feel that certain beliefs are wrong – no matter what justification we have for holding those beliefs. Conversely, those who support Phil Robertson argue that his beliefs not only reflect his religious point of view, but that he is entitled to hold any belief he (or anyone else) wants, regardless of who he offends.
I don’t know how other people see things, but whenever I hear anyone say words like “wrong”, “justified belief”, “religion” or “God”, or when you debate whether it is right or wrong to remove a man from his job on a TV show, I start to think about morality. And when you’re using morality words, you’re thinking – and talking philosophically.
Yeah, we should be discussing the ethics of unmanned drones, war in the Middle East, international economic relations or our panopticonic reality, courtesy of the NSA – and sure, those are very important things to think about. But there is much to be discussed with the drama over Duck Dynasty or any other time a pop cultural icon or reality TV star grabs
unwarranted media attention by saying or doing the wrong thing.
Or by saying the right thing, if you see things that way.
At best we can use the opportunity to strike up a moral debate (or two. or with everyone you know) over the ethics of personal opinions.
… and don’t forget, any scandal is perfect for memes.
because you know they’re not done yet.