Pop Culture is Pop Culture is Pop Culture

Posted on June 15, 2010


I’m finally getting around to reading The Rest Is Noise, and in doing so today I came across a little tidbit from the start of the 20th century that reminded me of a nostalgia fallacy I often buy into (and which had been flaring up as I read about orchestras touring the midwest and playing to ten thousand people at a pop), which is that in the good old days pop culture was so much more intelligent and literate and highbrow* and not scurrilous in the least etc etc:

When the (p)opera singer Enrico Caruso got caught feeling up someone else’s wife in the monkey cage at the zoo (yup. he blamed it on the monkey too, apparently) in 1906, not only did the incident make front page headlines across the country, but the scandal actually made him MORE popular.

Never doubt the rules of pop: All publicity is good publicity and people love gossip just about as much as we love tiny free samples of products we’d never otherwise use, or cleavage. It actually felt nice to remember that as much as things change (and boy do they feel like they’re changing, in my life and in the world), we’ll always want to read about famous people running around on their spouses. Just think of how much easier the internet has made that. You and me, we’re living in the gilded age of saucy celebrity gossip.

*I’ve read that this word/concept is outdated but I’m yet to be convinced. Just because the lines are fluid doesn’t mean Lady Gaga and Schoenberg are one and the same.

Posted in: general interest