November 21st, 2006

DVDs

on not watching tv...

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson
the living embodiment of pop culture sex
(for the 90s. Today, its Paris Hilton)
I don't remember how the conversation started, but I was talking with some people earlier today when someone made brought up Pamela Anderson and how they didn't think she was attractive. I have no problem with that. She's not really my type either. But the person then said that they had no desire to see her naked whatsoever. This stuck me as weird. Not that they weren't attracted to her, mind you. And I can certainly believe that a person might not go out of their way to see her. But, I can't imagine anyone possibly knowing who Pam Anderson is and not having seen her naked. I have trouble believe that anyone could have walked into a convenience store in the 90s and not accidentally tripped over a naked picture of Pammy. Some people even mentioned that while they knew vaguely who she was, they weren't sure they'd be able to pick her out of a lineup of similar busty blonde actresses.

My jaw dropped. These people might as well be living on a different planet than the one I live on.

I'll leave the "what makes someone sexy" conversation for another time. But what I'm interested in right now is ignorance of pop culture. I don't mean that to sound insulting. Really when I want to sound insulting, I'm certainly capable of doing that here. Instead, I am kinda curious about the place pop culture plays in people's lives.

Obviously, its a huge part of mine. With over 500 DVDs, uncountable comic books, satellite radio subscription, and a lifetime lived in front of the television, I'm pretty much a media junkie. But I've never understood people who say they don't watch TV. While I certainly won't pretend that every show on television is quality, or that people should watch anywhere near as much as I have in my life, I just don't get how people proudly proclaim that they don't watch any television, or people that think its somehow healthier to raise their children without television. Do you need to be a slave to media? No, of course not, but there is a whole world happening out there and I don't understand the desire to castrate yourself from a part of it, not matter how menial you consider it.

Back in the day, it used to be considered intellectual to not have time for TV. Perhaps you were too busy reading The Brothers Karamazov to watch The Honeymooners. Similarly, perhaps listening to Große Messe in C minor didn't leave you with time to waste on the Beatles. But at the end of the 20th century it turned out that Jackie Gleason and the John Lennon were just as important to defining the history of culture as Dostoevsky and Mozart were in their day. I'm not saying that 50 years from now history is going to remember 30 Rock and Chamillionaire as culture changing phenomenons. But then, how do we know that it won't?

I've told the story before of how beststephi and I took her nephew to see a movie a few years ago when he was four and were amazed when he saw a poster and didn't know who Bugs Bunny was. I simply didn't understand how a four year old could not have any idea who he was. I feel similarly about grown-ups. I'm not a Barry Manilow fan, but I know who he is. And I expect non-hip-hop fans to know who Snoop Dogg is. Whether you are a Pam Anderson fan or not, its simply indisputable that she pretty much was the sex symbol of the 90s. Fifty years from now she's going to be remember with Marilyn Monroe.

So that's what I want to know. How important do you think pop culture is? Movies? TV? Music? Video games? The Internet? How much do you watch? How much did you watch as a kid? Do you let your kids watch? Why or why not? If you don't watch TV, what do you hope to gain by not doing so? What rules do you set for your kids if you have them (or hope to set for your kids in the future)? Do you care about the pop culture that happens around us or do you think its ultimately unimportant?

Oh, and have you seen Pam Anderson naked before?