Pop culture is ephemeral. Celebrities rise and fall (and then land reality TV shows exploring their feelings about their fall); television shows and movies come and go (and come back again in rebooted form). The “song of summer” this year will have faded from people’s memories long before fall arrives.
But some aspects of popular culture endure, most notably our collective fascination with it. Here at Acculturated, we explore the timeless virtues that play out in popular culture. Reality television shows, with their bachelorettes and Kardashians, might not seem like an obvious place to find lessons about human nature or explorations of virtue. But dig deep enough into any sitcom or tabloid story and you will find the makings of a classic morality tale: people face challenges and struggle to meet them; obstacles to success are overcome (or not); and sometimes, good even triumphs over evil.
Because we spend so much time consuming these stories, we increasingly understand our own reality through them. Popular culture is culture, especially for a younger generation raised with on-demand access to a vast array of entertainment online. We have an unprecedented number of avenues to express our opinions of popular culture — and of each other — on social media, YouTube, and countless other media. And yet debates over popular culture are too often defined by extremes: one side praises the smashing of taboos and “anything goes;” the other frets about the decline of values and the libertine nature of much that passes as popular culture.
At Acculturated, we do something else: promote thoughtful discussions of what popular culture — its vices and its virtues — tells us about ourselves, including our values, our hopes for the future, and our fears. And we explore the possibility of reclaiming some space in popular culture for virtue and character.
In an effort to make those explorations of popular culture more enjoyable for readers of Acculturated to navigate, we’ve redesigned our website. We’ve streamlined things so it’s easier to browse articles on parenting, celebrities, or politics, for example, and easier to find our latest stories from our wide range of excellent contributors, among whom are critics and writers who are long-time observers of pop culture as well as mothers and fathers, recent college graduates, and students. We’ve also kept our regular features — Daily Scene links of our favorite stories from across the Web and our Viral Virtues posts. We hope you enjoy the new look. And we hope you continue to give us your feedback and thoughts on why pop culture matters.