Evolution of Pop Culture

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Story by Gabriela Odisio, Opinion Editor

With a plethora of definitions over the course of time, popular culture today represents the predominant customs and tastes for the people of a certain time, so whenever society evolves, pop culture follows. An everlasting fluid term since its creation, “pop culture” has seemingly originated amidst the Industrial Revolution, when people moved from rural areas to urban clusters and consequently developed their own forms of expression, after gradually accepting the concept of collectivity. Middle class workers used art and media as a way to separate themselves from parents and employers.

Crucial to the development of pop culture into what it is today, capitalistic urban centers took these independent artistic expressions into a commercial level, heavily investing on them through a marketing expression, helping to develop a consumer and product image. With mass-production lines upsurging alongside with the increase in literacy levels, technological developments, and life quality as a whole, popular culture bled from traditional newspapers into new forms of media, such as films and broadcast radios.

Throughout this social progression, WWI and II also made their indents in popular culture, shifting its focus to an informative and persuasive government tool, coaxing the people to cooperate with official HomeFront programs, such as rationing and scrap drives. Ever since then, the lines separating what’s “commercial” and what’s “authentic” have been blurry, as pop culture created a major industry never before seen by men.

After mentioning relatively recent events, some may ask about arts and culture appearances predating the nineteenth century. Before its presence in movies, radios, and newspapers, the essence of popular culture is said to be prehistoric, enacted through music and art during ritualistic ceremonies therefore popularizing new forms of human expression. Over the course of years, the name  “genesis of pop culture” has been attributed to written musical creations, hugely popularizing themselves among the great art-passionate masses. During times of the Great Navigations, such musical pieces would be taken to foreign grounds by the exploration of international waters, allowing humanking to replicate music from tens of thousands of miles away without ever actually having heard it. 

Transitioning from music to the dramatic arts, the first popular culture “superstar” couldn’t remain unmentioned in this article. The actor, poet, and playwright William Shakespeare is one of the greatest milestones of the early modern world, deeply impacting generations of the artistic realm since the early 1600s until today. Used to shorten the gap between plebeian and fine arts, Shakespeare’s creations quickly spread throughout Europe, popularizing English traditions expressed in his plays within a plethora of countries.

Aside from directly influencing the performing arts, popular culture has always had a great impact on the fashion industry. The repercussion of the use of costumes in performances such as plays and films is evident on modern trends relating to their era. Until this day, characters with strong senses of style unequivocally impact the way the youth decides to dress and act, perhaps unintentionally deciding what’s presentable and what isn’t. However, this influence is in no way temporary, considering how vintage trends are constantly being restored, bringing with them past pop culture.

It is safe to say that popular cultural evolution walks hand in hand with human progress, adapting itself to current technology and global events. Although the trendy definition of pop culture may seem only applicable to younger generations, people from all ages carry baggages of what was pop culture at their time, allowing music, films, radio broadcasts, and much more, to be in an eternal touch with their essence. 

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