Pop songs and superheroes
'Pop culture' is a powerful thing. The term refers to books, films and music which are read, watched, listened to and loved by millions of people all over the world; hence 'pop', which comes from popular. Like all influential and powerful things, its power can be used for good or for evil. Compare, for instance, Mark Ronson's recent Uptown Funk, a riotous, dance-inducing revelation of a pop song, with any of the limp, less original offerings from recent X Factor winners.
Admittedly, reality television like The X Factor is one of my least favourite aspects of pop culture. From trapping celebrities in the jungle, or teaching them different skills - ice skating, ballroom dancing, even diving - it sometimes feels like you can't turn on the television without being bombarded by a relentless onslaught of similarly poor-quality programmes. However, there is always an exception to the rule; in this case, the exception is The Great British Bake Off, one of my favourite shows ever - even though it's a reality television series, in which contestants compete to be crowned UK's Best Amateur Bake Off. Besides inducing ravenous hunger in its viewers, Bake Off is very entertaining, and surprisingly addictive.
That's why pop culture is so powerful: there's something for everyone. And if you're not up to date, entire conversations can pass you by, because you haven't seen the film or read the book that your friends are discussing. After a while, nodding and smiling along without having an opinion to contribute becomes tiresome - it's time to forget any prejudices or preconceptions, and jump on that cultural bandwagon.
For me, this moment came on Christmas Day. Gathered together in the sitting room, squeezed onto sofas and stuffed full of delicious food, we were only fit for one thing: watching a film. The rest of my family wanted to watch Avengers Assemble; despite having heard a lot about the Marvel series upon which the film is based, I didn't actually knowing anything about it, nor was I particularly interested in watching it - Frozen would have been my first choice! However, we decided upon Avengers, and I'm so glad we did. The film was great! Exciting, hilarious and wonderfully exaggerated - perfect family entertainment.
Since watching Avengers, I have been taking advantage of the long winter nights to recap on the earlier films in the series, including Captain America and Ironman; happily, so far they have all lived up to my high expectations. Two urgent questions have been troubling me, however. Firstly, and most importantly: if I could choose a superpower, which one would I choose? The ability to fly? Super-strength, invisibility? Which would be the most useful, or the most fun?! Secondly - and more realistically - what other great examples of pop culture have I been missing out on?!