Stop Apologizing for the Pop Culture You Love
Readers, meet Becky Lang. I’ve followed her on Twitter for years and we were able to work together briefly last year while she was working with local agency, Zeus Jones. Admittedly I was a little nervous to meet one of my favorite Twitter follows; Becky (@leckybang) is bright, funny, and objectively cool with an unabashed interest in pop culture and the human spectacle. I’m so excited to have her as part of our team.
We’re living in tough times. Social media has ceased to be a platform for doge memes as we tensely plot out how to deal with unprecedented political turmoil. Remember when we used to log on and gossip freely about yoga, cupcakes and how many lemons Gwyneth Paltrow could buy with food stamps? Those times are over, at least for now.
Despite how hard you’re working to donate, volunteer and protest, you still deserve some time to check out and watch people with abrupt ombre declare “they’re not here to make friends.”
But no matter who you are, there are haters ready to tell you your pop culture consumption delegitimizes you as a person. And in these moments, it’s time to tell them to can it. We ladies have been trained to apologize for everything about our lives, and now’s not the time. Do guys get criticized for devoting their Sundays to sports? No.
Here’s how to stop crapping on everything that makes your life worth living, whether that’s your obsession with Kylie’s Insta or your intimate knowledge of which Bachelor contestant drinks which detox tea.
REMIND PEOPLE THAT POP CULTURE IS OFTEN WHERE WOMEN AND LGBTQ HEROES THRIVE
A couple weeks ago, everyone started posting their favorite albums from their teenage years on Facebook. I could not resist playing a game called, “Are there any women on this list?” It’s insane how often there wasn’t even ONE. Now we can’t blame our teenage selves too much for not caring about representation in music consumption. We were just extremely hormonal, pimply and trying to survive. Plus, if you were more inclined to like alternative rock, indie rock or metal, you may not have had many ladies crooning on your Walkman.
If you liked pop, however, you most likely had plenty of women to choose from. That’s because, due to the mysterious forces of creativity, capitalism and the cosmos, many women creators end up in the pop culture world. This phenomenon also extends to many LGBTQ legends. Could it be that our lack of straight white male angst creates something more accessible than screamo? Maybe. But it’s certainly true that we have massive purchasing power that rockets our tastes into the mainstream. As Regina George might say, it’s not our fault that what we love gets popular.
VIEW YOUR POP CULTURE OBSESSION AS AN ART AND SCIENCE
Sports fanaticism has turned into a dynamic and thriving area of pop culture criticism. Thinkers like Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman don’t write their fandom off as a guilty pleasure, but instead see it as a serious subject of inquiry.
Yes, watching sports has probably never been used to discredit men’s use of time the way watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians has for women. After all, the agenda of what is Important and Worthwhile is still controlled by men. That said, brainy sites like Grantland (RIP) further legitimized sports fandom as a thought-provoking way to spend leisure time.
The more our generation’s greatest thinkers view pop culture not as a waste of time, but as inspiration for moving writing and commentary, the richer our media world will get. It’s awesome to be able to jump on my phone and listen to podcasters dissect the political and social messages in The Baby-Sitters Club. If you write off what you consume as unimportant, you’re missing out on the chance to add to this amazing meta-culture.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN TURN YOUR POP CULTURE OBSESSION INTO A JOB
Pop culture isn’t just a passion—it’s a way to make a living.
At this very moment, 17-year-old kids are out there making more money than I am playing video games on YouTube. Not making video games, just playing them. Charming individuals are doing the same with makeup tutorials and makeup haul reviews.
Your passion alone is enough to make you infinitely relatable, and to make people want to hear what you have to say.
We loathed millennials have already done a lot to turn pop culture fandom into respected industries. Our refusal to let go of our childlike obsession with TV, movies, music and video games has actually changed the economy. It’s a better time than ever to like whatever it is that you like. Why not view your pop culture love not as a bad habit, but as a calling?
YOU ALSO DON’T NEED TO DO ANY OF THIS
You don’t need to argue that Gossip Girl is actually a sociopolitical treatise on class in New York City. (I just made that up so don’t ask me what it means.) You also don’t need to claim you watch The Bachelor to study gender dynamics in today’s Lean In career climate. You can just like that shit. Once you stop saying sorry for who you are, you won’t be able to stop.
If someone makes you feel bad for liking something, tell them to peace out. It’s easier than ever to find a tribe of people who will bring new ideas and energy to what you love, so go out and hang with them instead.
Author: Becky Lang
Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis.