Brangelina, Trump, 9/11, Gilmore Girls and why Pop Culture Matters

We live in a world where we see the worst of  humanity. School shootings, planes flying into buildings, parents burying children, goodbyes that were never meant to be goodbyes. We’ve watched a racist, sexist bigoted man with no regard for other people get dangerously close to the White House. African-American men and women are being gunned down by police. The world is chaotic. The news leaves us with an uneasy feeling. We feel helpless as we watch and debate on Facebook.

The horrors we witness is why the obsession over Brangelina matters.

It matters because while it may be heart-wrenching to the players involved, it’s not entirely heart-wrenching to magazine readers and Entertainment Tonight watchers. It’s a break. The trials and tribulations of the Brangelina divorce give us a break from the posting about yet another tragedy, another death, police shooting, terrorist attack. A break from attacking each other’s politics, it’s a break.

When we live in a world where a bully, a racist bigot who encourages rape culture and has made a living fat shaming and making fun of people with disabilities may actually have a shot at the White House. We need pop culture more than ever.  We need that break when we watch Trump make some other outlandish comment making fun of yet another person, encouraging violence and hatred amongst the country. We need a break. A break from Trump and a break from violence.

Recently, I binge watched Gilmore Girls in anticipation for the upcoming revival. Season two starts in October of 2001. I began the Season Two binge around September 11th and it occurred to me that while Connecticut is a few hours away from New York, September 11th, 2001 does not exist in Stars Hollow. September 11th was not mentioned or touched upon in any sitcom or dramedy at that time. Friends, Will and Grace and Sex and the City took place in New York, Gilmore Girls took place in Connecticut and yet it didn’t exist. The worries were contained to whatever the concerns were in that episode. The outside world, the pain felt by a nation was not present.  That break, that comfort is necessary.

We are so oversaturated these days with yet another awful piece of footage. Yet another shooting, Trump saying yet another ridiculous thing, another death, another riot and those television shows, those stories about celebrities, it’s a break. We can’t always be consumed with the horrors of the world. That sensory overload would no doubt bring us to the brink of madness. The world can’t be that horrible all the time, can it?

Pop culture matters because of comfort, because it reminds us there is still good. It gives us hope and fantasy just as Pokemon Go gave us a break from the news reports of 49 innocent souls slaughtered in a club over the summer.

Television shows, the issues of celebrities and mindless games remind us that there is a bright spot in every patch of dark. How wonderful that in the midst of all the anger that has come with this election, thousands of people stood in line at six in the morning for a free cup of coffee as a part of a promotional event for Gilmore Girls.  To connect with a fellow fan, to talk about Rory’s boyfriends or Luke and Lorelai, that’s why it’s important. It offered solace. Yes, you can get a free cup of coffee in  your own home or your office at work, but to stand there with a fan, looking at cardboard cutouts of Scott Patterson as Luke and just discussing the characters and plot lines that brought smiles and good memories, in the darkness of the world, in the darkness of a racist running for president…..what a nice time to just stop. There’s still a connection and pop culture is responsible for that connection.

When the comments are made, “why does it matter?” “who cares?” “there are more important things to worry about.” Well, yes there are more important things to worry about. The world is in such a topsy-turvy crazy spin right now that we barely have time to process one tragedy before we have to deal with another. 2016 has been dark. We need the moments. The moments are crucial for our sanity, for our belief that the world isn’t so horrible and at the end of the day…..things will be okay and that is exactly what pop culture provides. Comfort and a fantastical belief in a happy ending despite a world filled with never ending chaos.

So the next time someone asks, “why does it matter?” The response will be simply, “because it does.” Like the chocolate chip cookies you just have to have sometimes…..it matters because it does.

 

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