May 3, 2012
When I started writing this column in the beginning of the year, it was a simple procedure: I wanted to write about stuff I liked, not necessarily what was being covered. When I was talking to my editors, the idea of Low Culture was really appealing. I like network TV and popcorn movies. I like superhero comic books and shoot 'em up video games. And, at first, I was pretty convinced the active word was the "TV" or the "movie" aspects, when really I was talking about the "network" or "popcorn" aspects.
Artsy films? Oscar-winning stuff? HBO or AMC dramas? Even indie video games, music or comics? That's not what Low Culture is about. Low Culture is about the everyday stuff, and finding the magic in it. Watching Family Guy or Community not for the cinematography, but to laugh. And, yes, those jokes are meaningful. They make us take a hard look at ourselves and our society, but that's not the purpose. The purpose is to make us laugh. To make us happy.
And that's why I write Low Culture.
When you're at Hopkins and every writing professor teaches you Hemingway or Faulkner, every novel you read is either an 18th century masterpiece or post-modernist manifesto - sometimes we forget that our reality television and blockbuster movies are just as important. And I'm here to remind you. Watch bad TV. Read trashy novels. Listen to crappy pop music because it makes you dance or you love to sing along. It's OK. Really, I promise. In fact, I guarantee it.
And the last thing you need to feel is shameful. Listen, I do it just as much as anyone else, but at the end of the day,I don't watch or read or play or whatever for someone else. I do it for myself. So, who cares that you love Jersey Shore? If your friends want to be judgmental about it, let them. Everyone is judgmental, especially about opinion-based stuff like what kind of entertainment we prefer. And, yeah, part of me wants to say, "hey, don't judge people." But, honestly, I couldn't care less. I judge people sometimes, too, and that's just as okay.
When you consume entertainment, you grow.
We feed on it. And even if we feed on it in imperceptible ways, we feed on it. Everything you watch. There are professors at Hopkins that might say otherwise, hell, there are probably students who'd say it, too, but let me tell you, they're wrong. There's something in every work of entertainment that's worthwhile, it's just up to you to find it.
And, hey, if you found my column entertaining, then my job here is done. Being a senior, I'm going to ship out next year, so to any loyal readers that want to take things from here? I hereby give you my blessing. Just remember what Low Culture has always been about: learning from the stuff no one wants you to learn from.
Thanks for a great year. Peace out.