You’re dozing off in class and the professor asks, “Do any of you know what the latest news is around the world?” The students look at one another with confusion and embarrassed looks until one pupil points out, “Hey, did you guys see what’s trending on Twitter?”
Pop culture is the culmination of the lifestyle choices and tastes of the majority of young people. Some claim the involvement in pop culture is a bad influence or waste of time in our society. Older generations say young people care too much about celebrities’ lives instead of their own.
But the truth is, pop culture is both necessary and fruitful. It is what millennials, a generation that the Pew Research Center says now outnumbers the baby boomer generation, values. This means that it is the plurality of society’s preferred entertainment and news. It is unavoidable.
It is evident that modern culture has grown to become a part of colleges academically and culturally. Universities, like Rider, have begun to adapt to the growth of student involvement in pop culture by having classes that embrace it and utilize the social media avenues that make it so prevalent.
Millennials are often criticized for not knowing much about news or staying up-to-date on the latest New York Times’ articles. Most professors are shocked when they ask a class of students about breaking news and hear crickets. Could pop culture be the reason for the millennials’ lack of awareness on hard news topics?
Soft news can appeal to more people. This type of news attracts passionate people within the entertainment industry. People are able to live vicariously through the worlds they aspire for, which is why millennials gravitate more toward this comforting type of news.
But mainstream media is not a permanent shadow hiding people from the truth. Yes, there are colorful Disney movies where the good guy gets the girl and Marvel films where the hero saves the city from ultimate peril. But there are also instances where popular movies teach us about the harsh realities of life. There are plenty of films, television series and even real-life publicized gossip that unveil the truths about racism, diseases, divorce, natural disasters, etc. These themes teach lessons to apply to personal lives.
Professional broadcast media outlets often have sections dedicated to celebrities and social media news, which is clearly accessible on their website. This is evident through networks such as NBC, which airs the show “Access Hollywood” that links directly to celebrity news, movies and television drama. “Saturday Night Live” has relied on pop culture for its successful parodies for 42 years.
Modern culture has played a huge role in education, as well. Rider professors have expanded and implemented lessons dedicated to learning about news in current and past media. Rider offers classes like the music of the Beatles and the history of pop and rock to give students a chance to learn about these past and current pop-culture topics.
Assistant English professor Kelly Ross used Beyoncé’s 2016 album, “Lemonade,” to explore the black feminist theory in her American studies class. Michael Curran teaches a high-demand course in social media in education for education majors. In many courses in the communication department, professors incorporate lessons with creating professional Twitter accounts, attending events outside of class and being up to date on information. These few examples are just a sample of how much Rider and its professors are advancing their programs to be up-to-date in social media and modern culture.
Students believe that taking classes that incorporate culture or social media is an easy three credit course, but oftentimes they learn a hard lesson. Classes like these involve time-consuming and extensive work in and outside of class.
Careers in social media are dependent on us millennials to leverage pop culture in marketing campaigns. Most jobs and companies are growing from networking and building professional relationships within social media platforms. Just through scrolling through LinkedIn and Handshake, there are plenty of job titles that include those two words, “Social Media.”
Pop culture is more renowned now than ever before. It is omnipresent, whether we want to encounter it or not. Pop culture is certainly not new, but has been expanded by the growth and massive use of social media. Future careers, our entertainment and our education all possibly depend on the idea of pop culture, what we are interested in and what is trending in the world.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Assistant Opinion Editor, Hayley Fahey
Printed in the 4/12/17 issue.