Can I Please Enjoy Popular Culture in Peace?

Are you an old soul, with varying interests and passions that no one can comprehend? Do you agree that modern music is trash, Netflix is a sellout, and the only book worth reading, really, is War and Peace? Do you think you were born in the wrong generation? Heard and acknowledged– now please stop ruining my fun.

I don’t know anyone who openly admits to this, so I’ll be the first to confess: I really enjoy popular music. And popular movies. And popular TV shows. And popular books. I really enjoy hate-watching all the movies Netflix produces solely for the purpose of hate-watching, and with this confession, I would like for people to leave me alone and in peace, thank you. I say this because I often run the risk of interacting with someone who often goes, “Who?” when discussing popular culture, or exclaiming, “Isn’t this a TikTok song?”  when a Cardi B song comes on Shuffle. Which is fine, if the question was asked genuinely on a random Tuesday. But more often than not, the people asking me this question have two defining characteristics– a snobby tone and the rageful feeling of being downright offended that I would play a BTS song or discuss “lowbrow” entertainment (usually everything short of a debate on Citizen Kane constitutes of this category).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a hater. I get not liking every popular thing. I would be lying if I said I enjoy everything in current popular culture. I can unbiasedly agree that, though hardly a monolith, popular culture often leads to a phase of repetition whenever something makes it to the mainstream. I’ll even acknowledge that a lot of things considered mainstream achieve that feat because of big C- capitalism. It is completely okay to be a fan of The Strokes or enjoy Aaron Sorkin’s work, and you know what? I’ll even give you a pass for only enjoying “intellectually superior” books about college professors thinking about cheating on their wives. But you listening to pop music or watching a Netflix rom-com under the ruse of doing it “ironically” is not fooling anyone. We could all see you enjoy that Dua Lipa song. And you know what? That’s okay. Future Nostalgia was a great album.

The obsession with being “taken seriously” is something inescapable, and I get that. Individual opinions are more easily accepted by the fringe than instances of popular appreciations. Maybe with over seven billion people on the planet, it is only natural to want to stand out, and stray a bit from the Rules with a capital R. But straying from the Rules is hard, and requires effort and bravery; what is not hard, however, is talking down to somebody about the things they enjoy.

So yes, I did listen to the new Doja Cat album (it was great), and I still absolutely love Game of Thrones (except the seventh season, we don’t talk about that). The point that I’m trying to make is– let people enjoy things. I get that misery is serious business, but I hope you know that you are allowed to lip-sync to a Taylor Swift song without having to perform like a self-aware parody of someone who is actually happy.

Image Credits: KnowYourMeme.com

Shreya Juyal
[email protected]


Shreya is an English major with generic hobbies that an English major might have. When she isn’t feeling FOMO about other people’s LinkedIn, she likes to write just about whatever interests her— as is the occupational hazard— and read insufferably chaotic books.