If you’re a movie or TV buff – or, for that matter, if you like any form of pop culture media whatsoever – you’ve probably heard the argument before. It goes like this: “it’s just a movie”. Pop culture has a profound effect on society in everything from sexism to race relations and even political agendas. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of movies, TV shows, video games, and all other pop culture we love to consume when it comes to shaping our society. Here are just some of the reasons that movies and TV shows will never “just” be popular culture.
They shape the way we act
Movies and other media have a strong effect on how we behave when we’re not watching them. Of course, reports that movies or video games cause violence are usually unfounded and spurious, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a knock-on effect in the real world. For example, did you know that when certain Netflix shows launched, Google searches and fashion trends changed as a result? It’s true – if you don’t believe us, just have a look at this awesome Betway infographic and it’ll change your mind, we guarantee it.
Infographic provided by Betway.
They can have real transformative power
Did you know that after the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, the adoption rate for black cats in animal shelters shot up? It’s true. That’s just one of the many examples of movies literally changing the world in which we live. Think also about the impact of harrowing documentary Blackfish on SeaWorld; the movie forced the park to rethink the way it approached orcas. No matter where you look, TV and movies have a profound effect on the world around us.
Pop culture is important for mental health
Our understanding of mental health is improving and changing all the time. As part of that, we’re finally beginning to comprehend how critical entertainment is in keeping us in good spirits, especially during uncertain times such as the ones in which we currently live. Uplifting stories help us to feel better about our own lives, but simply engaging with a well-told narrative can make us feel positive towards the world and people around us. We should never dismiss the importance of pop culture in building a more compassionate society.
They’re a way to preserve cultural moments
The content of a movie, TV show, or even video game can tell you a lot about the moment in which they’re created. It’s important to think of pop culture as a sort of time capsule; the values, judgements, and desires of the people who live in that time period are encapsulated within media. For an example, look no further than D.W. Griffith’s influential yet risible The Birth of a Nation, which is a racist document of its era. We need to preserve movies and TV shows so that we can better understand history.
They can communicate tough concepts easily
By encoding difficult social concepts within their narratives, movies can help teach us about our world and the challenges we face without coming across as preachy or didactic. For a great example of this principle in action, see Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out, which took psychology as its subject and managed to approach the topic in a mature way. Thanks to Inside Out, kids everywhere discovered the basic concepts behind psychology and were able to apply it to their everyday lives just like Riley does.
They’re a social experience
Unfortunately, since we’re living through a pandemic right now, our opportunities to socialize over a movie are severely limited. However, there’s absolutely nothing stopping us talking to our housemates, our partners, or our family about a movie we’ve watched or a TV show we’ve enjoyed. Absorbing pop culture experiences brings us together; it allows us to share our experiences with one another and have discussions about why stories work for us (or why they don’t!).
They spur creativity
How many times have you watched a movie or a TV show and been struck by creative inspiration as a result? It’s been said that “talent borrows, genius steals”, and even the most seemingly innovative and fresh universes are essentially patchworks of borrowed material from elsewhere. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from a favorite property; creative types do it all the time, and if you are struck by a flash of innovation as a result of watching a new movie or TV show, that’s a positive thing.
There’s a whole critical industry around them
If movies and TV were made to simply be absorbed and not to be considered as part of a cultural moment, then why would critics exist? Put simply, it is never “just a movie”. There are multitudes of ways of approaching each film and TV show in an analytical context, and these shows and movies mean so much to so many people that to dismiss them as “just” movies or shows is to demean the preferences of entire swathes of intelligent people. Critics write smartly and engagingly about the business and practice of creativity, so how could it ever be “just” a movie?
We hope we’ve gone some way towards explaining why so many people are so crazy about the movies and TV shows that they love. If you find yourself in a discussion about a show you haven’t watched or a movie you didn’t like, try engaging with the topic – you’d be amazed what you can learn!
DC Fanboy! Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time. Favorite movies are Man of Steel, Goonies, Back To the Future