Pop Culture can kill you, or it can heal you.
Every day millions of people come home from jobs they hate, that literally suck the life away from them, only to sit in front of the television absorbing whatever the networks and studios force feed them, while stuffing their faces with whatever McDonalds and Betty Crocker choose to sell them. In today’s society we are constantly bombarded with images and ideas that we had no part in developing. This programming has a profound effect on our subconscious mind that ultimately prevents us from experiencing life at it’s fullest. This is not the life we were designed for; humans were made to move, to socialize and, more importantly, to reflect.
Storytelling is an essential byproduct of this human reflection. Jesus, and other spiritual leaders, did not speak in parables to disguise the meanings of their lessons, but rather to enhance them. In this way, they were able to illustrate important information and advice through simple stories that were easily relatable. The application of these shared experiences and observations of the human condition can go a long way in bringing fulfillment to our lives. If storytelling is such an inherent part of the human experience, then why have we strayed so far from true fulfillment in today’s world? We, especially Americans, have forgotten the greatest freedom of all; what the sages Devo refer to as the Freedom of Choice.
Never, in the history of mankind, have we had access to as much information as we do today. Thousands, if not millions, of movies, books and magazines surround us everyday and are easily consumed at the click of a button. The sheer amount of media can be so overwhelming that we relinquish our authority to choose in favor of the easily digested and trendy media placed immediately before us. After a long day as a wage slave, stressing to fulfill another’s purpose, we just want to come home, relax and turn off our brains. We let the networks and the studios decide which stories we consume and absorb, and make no mistake, you are what you consume. Consciously or not, we all receive an impression from the media we indulge in, and the more mindless entertainment we are exposed to, the more we ourselves become mindless. We become consumers and not producers.
Storytelling was never meant to be an escape from reality, but rather a way to more fully experience and enhance our own actuality. The original storytellers were portraying the wide range of human emotion in order for the audience to reflect and educate themselves on their own reactions and situations. When we mindlessly consume endless hours of media without reflection we subject ourselves to the ideas and impressions of other people. These impressions are built upon the opinions and ideals of the writers, producers, directors and, most importantly, the advertisers. Advertisers go for the widest possible range of people, resulting in a very simple view of reality. Thus, we subject ourselves to one vision of love, one vision of beauty, one vision of morality and so on. To combat this, we must focus inwardly to find our own version of reality.
We must take it upon ourselves, therefore, to define our own ideas, opinions and inspirations. We must strive to spend less time consuming the general ideas of others, and instead spend it producing our own intricate ideas of life. We must attempt to be truly inspired by pop culture to go out and create and produce ourselves. We must reflect on what the themes in our stories tell us about ourselves and how we perceive the world. Finally, we must apply what we have learned from life, both through our own eyes and the eyes of other people, fictional or otherwise. What good is Indiana Jones if it doesn’t inspire you to go out and explore, to move, to socialize and to reflect?
This is the mission of a Pop Culture Philosopher.