Popularity. It’s always been around, but it became a kind of king-of-the-castle in our culture in the 1950’s and has dominated our collective attention ever since. Our culture is even called “popular culture.” And popular things and people have come and gone. Hula hoops, side burns, slap bracelets and Tamagotchi all had their day. But there’s a different kind of popularity I’m noticing lately. It’s tough to explain, but let’s start with this:
Almost exactly 52 years ago the Beatles released “Love Me Do” and everyone loved it. It was popular. About 21½ years ago M*A*S*H aired its series finale with well over 100 million viewers in the US alone, and it still holds the record of the most watched finale of all time in that country. It was popular. In 1997 Titanic visited theatres across the globe and smashed all kinds of box office records grossing more than any other movie in the past and it has taken 12 years to move it down to the #2 spot of highest grossing movies of all time. It was popular. A little over 3 years ago Rebecca Black recorded “Friday” which became an online sensation in a very short amount of time. It was talked about, Tweeted about, and featured on the TV show Tosh.0. My children even had it played on the big screen at their school variety show that year. It netted an impressive 167 million views on YouTube in 2011. Of course, it also had 3.1 million “dislikes.” That means 87% of those who viewed it didn’t like the song, the video, the performance, or (in most cases) all three. It wasn’t hard to find someone who would gladly share how much they hated the song and what they found wrong with it. It was… well, I guess it was not popular….er….well, was it or wasn’t it?
And there it is. In popular culture we have all kinds of popular trends, but nothing as white hot as things/people/works of art that we just can’t stand. If a band in 1962 was not liked, they simply didn’t make money. And for the most part they were unknown. I’m such a bad singer, though I could possibly make a mint if I recorded a song that was bad enough and was, therefore, hated enough. Has it ever been so wildly popular to not like something.
Now it’s not as if this is brand spanking new, though. It was definitely popular to hate disco and the Bee Gees in 1979 despite the fact that they’d sold millions of records prior to the fateful “Disco Demolition Night” at Comiskey Park in Chicago. But today it’s different. There are more things to love to hate than there are things to love. The Black Eyed Peas. Twilight. The actors playing the lead roles in Twilight. Miley Cyrus. Nicholas Cage. Lindsey Lohan. Nicki Minaj. Justin Bieber—that one’s a biggie. Kanye and Kim. Lady Gaga. Seriously, I could go on.
I have no words of wisdom on what this means or where it will take us. I tend to think it’s harmless, but I do feel bad for these folks a lot of times. Especially Rebecca Black. She was so young when she recorded that. And quite frankly—deep breath…. ok here goes nothing—-I love that song! I will only ask this, “What does this ‘dislike’ trend say about us?
So now I’m in the mood to lighten things up. There are certainly people and trends that I’m not crazy about (don’t even get me started on the saggy pants thing) but I hope those earn less and less soap box time from me as I get older. Therefore, in light of all this, I’d like to bring up this week’s nominees for Queen of Today’s Cinema. All three are deserving and it was immensely difficult to come to a decision on which actress deserves it most. My favourite of the three is definitely Jennifer Lawrence, but the coronation is going to go to Meryl Streep. She’s been a big star for so long and has moved us, entertained us, and taught us in so many different kinds of roles. Not only that, she’s still actively doing that and I think there’s plenty more left in the tank for her.
Congratulations Meryl Streep and The Deer Hunter. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Let’s give this one to Jennifer Lawrence. Both her performances and her quick, prodigious rise to the top have amazed me. No offence please Cate…
Best Actor: Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Magneto. He is such a great character, especially off-screen.
Best Quote: “ When a man says no to champagne he says no to life.” — Julien in The Deer Hunter
You know, I think I will indulge a bit. Seeing as I like lists, here are 10 things that I just hate:
- Corn chowder
- Opening up a stall in a public bathroom and finding someone in there (Come on man, lock it!)
- When people don’t flush public toilets after using one.
- The song “Just as I am.” Not sure I’ll ever forgive Billy Graham for that one.
- When an entire row of chairs are “saved” with coats thrown over them at a concert or movie theatre.
- Being late for a movie and missing the previews. (That was a close one cousin Petrina!)
- The phrase “there you go.”
- The phrase “it’s all good.”
- Being told, “What?! You’re crazy! Corn chowder is awesome!”
(And now imagine I throw a pencil and it makes a shattered glass sound.) There’s your top ten folks.