Pop culture increasingly vital in current political climate

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People who disparage pop culture to make a point don’t just exclude themselves from the conversation—they disrespect the power of diverse audiences.
 
A guilty pleasure is something a person enjoys despite that thing not being held in high regard. More often than not, the term also applies overwhelmingly to media consumed by young women. 
 
Leaving an all-girls education for university first showed me the gendered hierarchy around media consumption. I learned that, as a rule, pop culture addresses emotion and opinion—areas considered uniquely feminine and consequently trivial. The Atlantic is reliable, Chatelaine is a gossip rag. I can talk about the Supreme Court podcast I love, but not the one about relationship counselling. 
 
Nobody openly says pop is their favourite genre or a romantic comedy is their favourite movie. When I tell people Kylie Jenner’s birth announcement made me cry—twice—I’m met with disbelief or derision. 
 
Media about women—tackling fashion, relationships, or self-improvement—is mistakenly considered a guilty pleasure, which is less description than it is an apology for discussing something appealing to women. 
 
This mindset that you can't be both an intelligent, informed person and captivated by celebrity culture simultaneously is increasingly obsolete.
  
Celebrities have the ability to change social institutions. They’re the lens through which we digest society. Khloe Kardashian’s struggle with infidelity through her first child’s birth raised questions about motherhood. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” was a new take on partnership. 
 
Media created for men is perceived as inherently serious, whereas media geared toward women is seen as frivolous and flighty. Pop culture, however, is not an indulgence—it’s increasingly vital in the current political climate. 
 
Shows like Queer Eye address race, mental health, and toxic masculinity. Movies like Love Actually permit the celebration of love beyond romantic strictures. Mainstream media has something of unique value for a wide range of audiences—if given a chance.  
 
That said, even if you take nothing from pop culture, you’re not responsible for justifying your tastes. There’s nothing reprehensible about finding pleasure in something personally fulfilling. My unironic love of T-Pain doesn’t make me smarter, but it does make me happier.
 
Denying women cultural control isn’t just stingy—it’s imprudent. After years of forced cultural observation over contribution, young women have their fingers on the pulse of society at any given moment. You don’t have to be well-versed in Ariana Grande songs to understand the energetic mobilizing power of her fanbase. 
 
The next time someone praises Cardi B, understand rolling your eyes doesn’t change their mind—it simply excludes you from the culture-wide conversation.  
 
Calling pop culture a guilty pleasure denies the validity of a diverse and powerful section of society. 
 
Meredith is The Journal’s Editorials Editor. She’s a third-year politics and English student. 

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