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What Is Pop Culture?

Aug 25, 2008
Pop culture is, put simply, the events, people, fads, and trends that capture the public imagination. It is also a term used to describe current cultural trends, and cultural trends of the past that have achieved enduring status. Cultural icons can be anything, even cartoon characters, like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and other classic Disney characters. Cultural icons can also be political figures, athletes, celebrities, and people who have somehow achieved notoriety in less conventional ways. Examples would be lottery winners, criminals, inventors, and similar types of people or groups of individuals. Animals can achieve cultural icon status as well, either because of their celebrity status, like Lassie, Benji, or Flipper, or because of their association with a human celebrity, like Paris Hilton's Tinkerbelle or the little dogs that Britney Spears was seen carrying around for a while.

Traditionally, pop culture has held the most appeal for the younger demographic, but has been thoroughly ingrained into society to the point that it is drawing attention from people of all ages. Pop Culture seminars, studies, and academic careers based on the study of pop culture are all commonplace nowadays, particularly since the Internet has evolved into such a ubiquitous source of information. Theories about the impact of this concept range from the belief that it is a substitute for traditional family and religious values to the theory that pop culture is a shared history that links people together. A lot of pop culture history is tied to the popularity of the television, which first made its appearance in the early 1950's.

The term was first used in the 1950's, but did not really gain popularity until much later, when media saturation made it easier for people to spot and follow trends. Websites that chronicle pop culture through the decades also make mention of news events, trends, and celebrity news of the era, and these are the same things that make up pop culture today.

If you think back to a popular fashion trend, a music group, or an event that made news in your lifetime, than you can see just how much of an impact pop culture really has. Whether you agree that it has a deeper social significance or not, it is clear that events, people, and circumstances do serve as a way to connect people. And without pop culture, we wouldn't have the Hula Hoop, Silly Putty, slap bracelets, or any of the other innovations that people take for granted.
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