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Garcia 1 Mirna Garcia English 1102 Professor L.

Steele 4/29/14 Popular vs Unpopular: The Logic behind How Something Evolves into Popularity Following the crowd is sometimes just hard to resist and it becomes almost a human instinct, but I feel that it is important for us to realize that it kind of turns into an automatic action that has gone widely unnoticed. As an effect we tend to lose the individuality that makes us all unique compared to the clone like methods we so obviously abide by in this day and age. Essentially, the undeniable fact is that we control what becomes viral in our culture; we shape the trends in our communities and are guilty for the expansion of such trends on a global level. Thus, my centralized question is what is it that makes us fall into the bandwagon or trends and fads of society and what is the reasoning behind such behaviors? This can imply that we are controlled by society and the popular culture that surrounds us and that has ultimately caused a sense of loss in individuality. Furthermore, in order to answer any profound question I feel that several others come into play as an ongoing effect and simply become hard to ignore. So, what exactly is popular? What is pop culture and roles does it play on society? How does it mold our ways of acting as people through social aspects? Does following trends make us popular and is that our potential goal when acting upon popular aspects of culture? Is that the reason for doing it or is it merely a human instinct that we cannot help to steer away from? It is truly an endless cycle of questions that just lead to more, but they are realistic ones that we must all face because in all of its

Garcia 2 essence, we are the backbone to what ultimately becomes prioritized in our society and that role should not be taken for granted. Claiming Centrality Looking back at what got me interested in this topic in the first place was my arrival from California to North Carolina. Like anyone can imagine, moving almost three thousand miles away is not the easiest thing and can definitely take some time to adapting to. I came to a completely new world with different people and lifestyles. I had no knowledge of what a pocketbook was, nor did I take interest in UGG boots. I figured I had never seen many of them before because of that marvelous weather everyone always speaks about in home sweet home (or at least the part where I was from). Prior to leaving I was surrounded by skinny jeans and Vans slip-ons, I had encountered a whole new set of fashion and style and I did not even know it yet. Other than just the overly priced boots I noticed a completely new set of trends that was worn by everybody that could get their hands on them. I feel the main reason I could not help to notice was because of those brand names that just stood out to me on everybodys t-shirts. The typical Hollister, Abercrombie, and Aeropostale were being advertised across everyones chests. Im sure of course that these stores existed in California, but were just not as relevant from the specific area I came from, therefore I felt more of a stable line of trend here in the Carolinas then I had seen in California where everything had always felt so at ease with no forceful tactics on clothing apparel. Although, that may have been a simple result of me just being so used to trends there. I had always been into and continue being into fashion, clothes, and shopping, but after my arrival here I had a new approach and made sure that I did not want to dress like everyone else. I wondered what made the clothes that were being worn here so intriguing when they were

Garcia 3 all so unreasonably priced, which also played a factor in never catching my attention for being fashionably assertive or pleasing. Overall I feel that my coming to this state led me to a drastic change in my persona, fashion taste, and definitely perceptions on how people get to liking stuff in masses that have no relevant appeal and perhaps are trends followed because of mere human instinct on following the crowd. Items of Research So as previously discussed we must obtain answers to sub questions that can ultimately lead us to our centralized one. In order to do so I feel that we have to start in the beginning with the logic behind what popular culture actually is. Writers like Marcel Danesi can enlighten us with his work in Popular Culture (Introductory Perspectives) and provide for us a basic understanding for these very elusive concepts. Not only did he write the book Popular Culture, he also is a professor of Anthropology at the University in Toronto. Another writer with great interest on the subject is Michael Schudson and Chandra Mukerji collaborated on writing an article for the book Popular Culture. Schudson happens to be an academic sociologist who focuses on the fields of journalism, history, and public culture. Mukerji is a PhD in Sociology and currently works at the University of California San Diego in the communication Department. They would describe popular culture with both the terms folk and popular. Mentioned in the article are how both are mass beliefs in a local state as well as having had objects and practices having rooted in a particular local area (Mukerji and Schudson, 65, 1986). Danesi on the other hand feels as though he has to separate the two terms being pop and culture in order to attain a finalized term as a whole. He defines culture as a system, as most anthropologists do. It is considered a system because it includes several factors like those of beliefs, symbols, rituals, clothing, language, lifestyle patterns, performances, art forms, music, dance and any other form

Garcia 4 of human expression within a community during a particular period in time (Danesi 2, 2008). It is pivotal that culture is system because ever since the 1950s the term has been heard due to postwar wealth and the coming of baby boomers. This gave power to the people regardless of class and ultimately allowed the shaping of trends. A decade later the changes had amounted sufficiently to a point where the change of trends turned into the evolvement of American society (Danesi 2, 2008). Another source that can add to this argument is Adam Sternbergh who wrote an article titled What Was, Is and Will Be Popular, The Driving Forces of Pop Culture. He opens up a new line of thinking in which pop culture no longer comes in masses; everyone has an individual cultural cocoon, which has been enabled by the internet (Sternbergh, 2013). Adam happens to be the author of Shovel Ready, culture editor in NY Times magazine, and previous writer for several other well-known newspapers. Elaborating further with the cultural cocoon that Adam addresses, has to do with the mere fact that he believes the term cultural popularity has been drained of all meaning. In fact he implies that it is more sheltered than ever before because of the internet and the many options it gives us to steer away from a united type of experience America once used to share (Sternbergh, 2013). My Niche Taking into account the all of the information grasped from the sources you gain a sense of knowledge, which I did, towards my centralized questioning on the matter. Mukerji and Schudson gave a pretty generalized definition on what pop culture could be defined as. Many could agree with it although, I did find a flaw with them saying that it is rooted in a localized area. They failed to mention how eventually these beliefs, objects, and practices have the capacity of becoming widespread, which is what I feel causes the basis of something popular

Garcia 5 in culture. Danesi, however, gave me a sturdy grip on how the meaning of pop culture came to be in the Americas, which of an interesting background. I always cared for what causes it, but I never came to ask the origins of such a term. Moreover, Sternberg totally approaches the matter in whole new perspective that I had particularly never had taken into account. He mentions that popular culture has no use for a meaning anymore. The days where everyone was on the same channel at the same time have come and gone. We now live in a time where we are stuck in our own proximities that the internet has laid out for us. So, in reality, he completely diminishes my thoughts on how things evolve into popularity as a whole. Perhaps at one point it was easy to calculate such things, but now we are at a time where there are so many sub cultures that suppress one entire popular one. On the contrary, though, I do feel that it is of essence to not let ourselves fall so easily into the traps of society and the culture walls it constructs. Regardless of cultural cocoons or not, we should not automatically fall into those walls. What exactly are the perks to being like everyone else? Obliging ourselves to committing to the expectations of society diminishes our value of individuality. We are all individuals with the power to make a difference regardless of what everyone else wants to wear, buy, and be a part of. Uniqueness is a treasure. Being different is not necessarily a bad thing and if you choose to stand within the crowd it is up to you, but there is no need to do so when you have the freedom to be yourself, which no one else has the liberty to do. Conclusion Finally, I can say that undoubtedly finding questions to my research did not come at ease and if I want to conduct a more thorough study on my centralized question I might just have to become a sociologist like many of the scholars noted in this paper. The meaning of popular

Garcia 6 culture has been defined several times by attempts from different people, so that question can be taken off the list. And I feel that anyone can agree that we do control what becomes popular in culture and according to Danesi it is a fact gone down in history. With that being said, we should become aware of that notion and realize that it is of essence to our daily lives. Also, we are in control of ourselves and we have no obligation in following the paths that society exposes for us as pop culture. So, indeed, it is up to us to decide on whether to follow these popular trends or not, which keep in mind is ultimately a changing factor to society as a whole. In all honesty, I feel that there are no exact ways to really measure these sorts of things. Culture sometimes just is and the uncontrollable ways trends spread are hard to encompass as a simple calculation, though we might play a role in the outcomes. Loss of individuality? That is something that is up for discussion; some can go either way with that and never come to a finalized conclusion. What exactly triggers us to fall into the popular trends? Once again no answer with this one, but one can say many triggers are the answers and it can all depend on the person. Pop culture is a difficult entity to measure and ultimately its a difficulty putting exact answers to things. An aspect I feel that we should all confront ourselves with is that we are all vital elements to society and therefore, pop culture as well and that is a job we should not take for granted.

Garcia 7 References Adam Sternbergh (2013). What Was, Is and Will Be Popular - NYTimes.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/08/magazine/the-culture package.html?_r=2&#/#item_0 Danesi, M. (2008). Popular culture: Introductory perspectives. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield. Mukerji, C. and Schudson, M (1986). Annual Review of Sociology, Popular culture. London, UK: Routledge