Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Pop Culture Ideas

In response to yesterday’s entry about the value of discussion my mom (who goes by Barbara to the rest of the world) left a comment with a link to a New York Times article by Kurt Andersen titled Pop Culture in the Age of Obama. The whole thing is well worth a read, but this paragraph is especially relevant for yesterday’s discussion:

But irony of ironies, after literature was evicted from mass culture, pop culture itself began to fragment and lose its heretofore defining quality as the ubiqui tous stuff that everybody consumed. In a typical week nowadays, fewer than 6 percent of Americans see the most popular scripted series on television. So we have arrived at a strange new historical moment. Literature is just another (minor) sector of the culture industry, but now even the mandarins agree that certain pop artifacts — “The Sopranos,” “The Simpsons,” Radiohead — are cultural creations of the first rank. Meanwhile, popular culture and mass media are no longer very popular or mass. By and large, both entertainment and art appeal to niches, cultural tribes that range in size from tiny to smallish.

I like the idea of pop culture being about the ideas, not necessarily the content (which makes sense in a medium is the message sort of way). Whether or not the whole country watches American Idol, everyone knows the premise.

August 20, 2009