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What is Acculturated?

Welcome to Acculturated (a-culture-rated), an online magazine about the virtues and vices of pop culture and why pop culture matters. This is a place where I and other writers rate our culture and the kinds of messages it sends out every day.

Pop culture is our immanent reality. It is the culture. In today’s media-saturated world, pop culture has more direct social influence on a person’s life than anything else.Its very exuberance is the one experience that no one escapes. “I challenge anyone to tell me who won the Nobel Peace Prize the last five years. But someone like Kim Kardashian will be remembered,” says a Hollywood agent. Hannah Arendt foresaw this when she wrote in 1961 that the “market-driven media would lead to the displacement of culture by the dictates of entertainment.” Our values are cobbled together from the television shows, magazines, movies, and songs that dazzle and entertain us day after day. That’s a good thing and a bad thing.

Pop culture is the realm where human stories unfold and reach a mass audience. Those stories are packed with evocative and emotional messages that audiences respond to. Some of the messages are better than others. Think about the painful maturing process that Judd Apatow’s characters undergo. Or the themes of heroism and loyalty in the Harry Potter books. Or any number of things that we’ve already covered on this site. Here at Acculturated, we are interested in how such virtues — like creativity, beauty heroism, responsibility, joy, and generosity, to name a few — play themselves out in the popular culture.

On this site, we take a good look at pop culture and ask why? Why does pop culture resonate with so many people, and what does that say about the world we live in and the kinds of lives we are living? At Acculturated, we look through the looking glass to see what pop culture reflects about us.

—Emily Esfahani Smith

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