I’m not a counterculturalist, I don’t mean to be a party pooper, and I’m not acting sophisticated – God, no. Videos like this make me fall off my chair. On occasion, I may engage with some elements of pop culture (I mean you can’t not like this hit!). But generally, I fail to understand what makes pop culture popular. And I don’t understand why people still fight for it.
The idea of agreeing on a selection of attitudes and perspectives and labeling them as the definition of “fun,” or ascribing to them more than they can contain doesn’t make sense. At least, not to me. On top of that, it seems like so many people are secretly against popular fads and viral videos, but out of a need to fit in, they just roll with it. I can’t deny that I, at times, do the same, just not to feel like an outcast.
However, growing up, I felt completely repelled by Egyptian pop culture. I couldn’t relate to it like the other kids did, and to this day, I don’t know if it was better for me to go with the flow, and force a liking to it.
The music scene, for one, was a disgrace in my eyes – an insult to my intelligence. I would cringe every time I walked into a store, forced to listen to some Egyptian romance song blaring through the store’s loudspeakers. The gist of the song would typically fall somewhere between bemoaning the betrayal of an old lover and reveling in the wonders of a new one. These songs always had some variation of an all-too-familiar beat and lyrics were usually limited to one generic set of vocabulary. Investing myself in listening to Arabic songs just made no sense to me – and the same applied to TV and radio shows.
I am not entirely sure why I found myself repelled by my country’s pop culture. I think it was some kind of counter-reflex to the general culture I grew up in, which is also related to my problem with language.
Growing up, I had to find something to relate to, because I was still a happy impressionable kid. Inevitably, I was drawn to what I thought was the lesser of two evils: American pop culture. Throughout my teenage years, it was American pop music all the way. Then, slowly, I started exploring other genres of music from all over the world, stuff few I knew even bothered listening to.
Now, I can’t relate to pop culture in any form, be it American, international, Egyptian, or Martian for that matter. Not because it’s popular, but because it’s much ado about nothing: a distraction from actual pressing issues and ultimately, really bad taste.
Pop culture geeks would argue for the importance of pop culture claiming that it brings us together, that it connects us across racial, political and social divides. I couldn’t agree more. It does unite people, but to do what exactly? We are still divided, judged and misunderstood, while our most innocent are left to suffer in the most absurd of ways. All of that continues and thrives, despite the fact that international pop culture has been around for quite some time.
I can’t ignore the thought that pop culture is there to fill a void, distracting us from pressing matters, keeping us out of the loop, instead including us in the vicious cycle of sponsoring billion dollar industries. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but you know there’s plenty of truth in what I’m saying.
We are not A-OK, or else this very media platform would not have emerged and you would not have been reading this article right now.
For the sake of focusing on the full half of the glass, we are all witnesses to independent media outlets inching their way into mainstream culture, turning important causes into pop culture. Think The Ice Bucket Challenge, and this current viral video. Think Humans of New York, Berlin Artparasites and The Tempest redefining what pop culture ought to be.
If I live to see the day when mainstream media focuses on these pressing issues, finding real solutions, I would die a happy woman.
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