Monday, October 3, 2011

Plains Pops: Some Popular Culture Seriousness?

I know that some serious people believe that popular culture is very good at being popular but it's pretty low on the culture end.  Even when mass release movies, novels, songs, or comic books deal with "deep issues," they only "mention" or "refer to" them; they never "explore" the issues.  This weekend, I re-introduced myself to a song containing these lyrics:

Oh, we all thought we'd change the world with our great words and deeds.
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs, . . .
But living life from day to day is never like it seems.
Things get complicated when you get past eighteen,
Last month, I came across this little exchange in a comic book.  Lately, superheroes never seem to stay dead.
Dana: It’s not the same. When you lose someone you care about, you know they could come back.
Natasha: You say that like it’s a good thing. What if they came back after you’d tried to build a new life for yourself? What if you’d both changed so much everything you had was already gone? Could it ever really be the same again? But more than that, When your Grandfather—Dana, is it? When your grandfather passes, Dana, you get angry, you live in denial for a while… You feel all those stages of grieving. Eventually, though, you realize he’s gone, ad in spite of all your sadness, you move on with your life. But… if you knew there was a chance— even a small chance—that he could come back… you might never move on. You might stay there, just waiting, just hoping, pretending it didn’t happen—Could you ever really heal knowing that?
"But… if you knew there was a chance— even a small chance—that he could come back… you might never move on" isn't "To be, or not to be, . . "; "Could you ever really heal knowing that?" is not really "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,"  Likewise, "Things get complicated when you get past eighteen" is pretty obvious to those of us past eighteen.

Still, isn't it my job to explore.  The work should prompt the questions, but I must do the exploration.  Further, I'm old and I forget.  The work can remind, but I have to make something out of the memory.

These lyrics and the dialogue both provoke a few questions and thoughts.  Isn't that the best we can hope for any cultural artifact, popular or not?

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