As of late there has been an uproar of social and politically driven madness dispersing itself across the world. Whether it be politics and gender, race, and religion, the media is fueled with sensational propaganda. When I look to social media there are impassioned discussions happening, people posting thoughtful essays and articles. Regardless of who’s in the right and who’s dwelling in the wrong, people are talking and this is a good thing. On the flip side, there are many people on social media who can’t be bothered with world news, let alone major issues going on in their own communities and country and when news of these events are posted, they are met with outcries of annoyance. In the age of technology and pervasive access, how is it so many people refuse to acknowledge what’s in front of them?
Looking at the bulk of what’s posted on my social media networks, the most important topics could be Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the latest on the state of Beyonce’s marriage, and what douchey antics Justin Bieber is up to. Clearly it’s not up to me to dictate what people deem important, but what has happened to a balanced and well-informed public? Sometimes what I post on my Facebook wall encourages conversation, but most of the time they are met with crickets or obnoxious comments telling me I take everything way too seriously. Forgive me, WorldStarHipHop isn’t my cup of tea.
Everyday I see more cause for literature and other artistic mediums to do more than just entertain. So much of what the public views and hears is punctuated with the glamorous lives of the wealthy, outrageous stereotypes in flashing lights and closeups on reality television, and sad displays of perceived womanhood on popular networks. We’ve reached a point where entertainment is our reality and it is welcomed with open arms. What is it about the culture at large that makes us ask so little, so infrequently?
I recently read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, whose essays spanned topics ranging from gender in film and television, to warped portrayals of race in literature and politics. While Gay admits to enjoying much of what pop culture has to offer, she finds herself at odds with this enjoyment as she recognizes the shortcomings in the books, films, and music she loves. She encourages enjoyment and the ease of not taking everything so seriously while maintaining a levelheaded objectivity. She challenges writers and artists to work beyond status quo plot lines and shotty character development, she champions for dynamic stories and voices which go beyond easy one-dimensional points of view we have become accustomed to.
In a culture swamped with conflicting images and messages, it is not enough to be a passive onlooker. For all the entertain we enjoy, there must be discussions and considerations when what’s largely produced in them are relegated stereotypes and old tropes and what’s possibly worst, those left out all together. Before I officially graduate to the back in my day everything was right dandy spew, I’ll champion my faith in a more enlightened era of popular culture. I hope more artists choose to tackle difficult topics in their work and won’t settle for easy outs, lessening the human experience for a shot at the New York Times Best Sellers List.