Teachers are underpaid. Scientists are misunderstood. Firemen, for all their sexy calendars, are devalued. These have been staple comedic truths for decades. Who is to blame for this injustice? Entertainers! With all piles of money, their loose morals, their luxurious gluttony, their skimpy outfits, their shiny whores, it is they who must answer for this travesty. After all, they don’t contribute anything to society. Just mind-rotting smut. Right?

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“The poor bastards. Can barely afford clothes.”

Obviously, this is a bullshit conversation, and one I hope has never happened word-for-word. It may even be out of date, given the economic plague of past years, and rumblings that the music industry, among other Hollywood machines, are themselves broken and outdated. But there does seem to linger this unspoken rivalry between the realms of education and entertainment. Education is important, but underappreciated. Entertainment is indulgent, but gets more money and societal attention than other noteworthy careers.

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“LTR: Education, entertainment, and me, circa 2006.”

This is a more realistic representation of the wage discrepancy, the main point of contention in the War on Useful Careers. And I must pause briefly to note that, in my discussions of pop culture, I’m not usually referring to more traditionally “high brow” forms of art, like orchestras, fine art, theatric or operatic acting, etc. These people are dramatically underpaid, given the amount of training and finesse that makes up their performance. This is not to say that there isn’t an un/conscious effort to devalue the arts. No, that’s another point entirely. Rather, this paragraph is to let you know that we’ll be focusing on “low brow” arts: pop culture and all her facets. Pop music, television, sports, movies (sidebar: my body is in pain for not typing “films.” The lengths I go to for you!), tabloids, all of it. Despite the fact that, yes, low brow pop culture does not always offer much in mental substance, it is an important media to understand. Pop culture is a reflection of society, and even its ugly bits have meaning.

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“We hope.”

Education and entertainment are two single working mother systems that have had to collaboratively raise the lot of us bastards while our meat parents went Off to Work. (They’re not together, these parent systems. They might be divorced lesbians: one having us during the week, the other on weekends and holidays. Their marriage was a mess.) Education is the disciplinarian mom, the one assigned to with homework detail, moral development (or psychological programming), and keeping those bastards in line. They’re good kids, really, but just so damn frustrating.

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“The popsicle, like, represents talent, and the glasses totally represent altered states of mind, you know?”

Entertainment, meanwhile, gets to be a Pohelerian “cool mom,” the one who “forgets” to lock the liquor cabinet, who teaches her kids about style, self-esteem, and kissing-and-beyond. Or, alternatively, consumerism, self-perceptive moral development, and sexuality. Media consumed in childhood is used as a tool for worldview formation, for understanding the self and the other, and for instilling and perpetuating cultural myths. Likewise, as we mature and advance, education and entertainment continue in their functions. Underneath it all, there is no real split between education and entertainment because entertainment is, among other things, a tool for learning. In the end, many people end their formal educational training, but continue it in the Real World, where Mommy Entertainment has lived for their whole lives.

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“She’s one of those ‘cool’ moms, in case you’re online and not aware of ‘Mean Girls.’ Some crazy how.”

By this point, you may be saying “Andrew, we get it! Pop culture kind-of matters! We get the why. What about the how?”

Well, that, my dears, will be elaborated upon in future pieces. This is the “inaugural blog post,” where I introduce myself, my voice, and my mission. Before we can see concrete examples of how pop culture matters, we must first start a conversation and freely admit that it matters. After all, they do say that the first step in fixing a problem is admitting one exists. So let’s raise our glasses, comrades, to the beginning of a glorious cultural revolution of understanding. Or to the latest in an online dredge of two post-and-dead blogs. You’ve been on the Internet longer than I have, you should know where this is headed.

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“You knew exactly where this was headed.”

Cheers.

-Andrew.

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