Archive for April 5, 2012

Popular Culture is a Reflection of Reality, not Vice Versa

April 5, 2012 10 comments

I recently read a few posts on Hawaiian Libertarian’s Blog about his take on a popular sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” and TV in general, especially its tendency to justify and encourage narcissism.

He apparently sees it as an intentional, and somewhat diabolical, manipulation of popular culture by corporate interests to make people unhappy and dissatisfied with the intention of making them buy more crap. While there is some merit to that line of thinking, I believe that the underlying reason is even more basic.

It comes down to two interlinked aspects of contemporary western culture-

1. Women watch more TV than men and buy the majority of consumer crap.

2. It is simply more profitable to pander to those who buy the majority of crap.

Women are the biggest consumers of TV and other passive forms of entertainment (romance novels, self-help books etc). Most men simply cannot watch, let alone enjoy, large quantities of passive entertainment. That is why most forms of passive entertainment, such as TV, movies and popular literature, are heavily slanted towards feminine tastes.

The depiction of TV sitcom characters as backstabbing, superficial, narcissistic, untrustworthy and dysfunctional is therefore not some grand conspiracy aimed at breaking up human relationships. It is however a fairly accurate depiction of how women perceive, and behave with, each other. Furthermore, since most human beings are incapable of perceiving themselves as the “bad guys”, sitcoms often project such behavior on male and subordinate female characters.

Some of you might say- “but women have always been like that, so why are we seeing so much pandering now?”. The answer lies in the somewhat recent ability of women to financially support themselves. Consequently- they don’t have to even fake basic human decency, piety or respectability to obtain a comfortably middle-class existence. Also don’t forget that many woman with jobs spend from two income streams- his and hers.

It is this increase in the relative spending power and legal status of women, in parallel with a diminution of both for most men, that have made it acceptable for TV sitcoms to go in a full “goddess worship” mode.

The depictions and behaviors of sitcom characters are therefore a reflection of the true mindset and desires of most women. While some guys who watch those shows might get brainwashed into accepting such behavior, the majority of younger men have other male-centric avenues for entertainment such as video games, internet porn etc. Furthermore since most younger men nowadays are single or act single, the women in their lives have a significantly reduced influence on their entertainment choices. The same cannot be said of older men who grew up in the pre-internet age.

What do you think? Comments?