People peer pressured into loving or hating pop culture

(Photo courtesy of MILEY CYRUS)
(Photo courtesy of MILEY CYRUS)

Not long after singer and songwriter Zayn Malik left the pop band One Direction, he released his first single “PILLOWTALK.” The day it came out, DePaul junior Kristin Stahlke tweeted about how she didn’t like the song. 

Within a six-hour time frame, her tweet was retweeted multiple times, which led to her being cyber bullied. She was called many profane names and had to delete the tweet to make it stop.

“It was horrifying. People were threatening me,” Stahlke said. “I used to like One Direction in high school. It wasn’t like I was just being petty. I just said I didn’t like it.”

Stahlke’s situation proves that in today’s society, some things in pop culture are so mainstream that when people hate something everyone loves, or vice versa, they  tend to be ridiculed for having the unpopular opinion.

To have the unpopular opinion, people have to understand the difference between which things in pop culture are the “best” and “worst.” According to DePaul junior Danny Hacker, that can be almost impossible to do, especially when it comes to music.

“Everyone has their own opinion, so you can’t say the ‘best’ because that’s always such an opinionated question,” Hacker said. “I could say that my favorite band is Fleetwood Mac and then I could ask you what your favorite band is and the answer could be completely different. So your version of best and my best is different.”

DePaul media and cinema studies professor Daniel Bashara agrees with Hacker. His students participate in an icebreaker game on their first day in class to highlight this idea of “good” versus “bad.” People list their favorite artist, television show or movie and then something they feel they’re supposed to like, but that they actually hate, and a guilty pleasure.

“It clears the way to talk about media in every other possible way because we’ve dispensed the idea that we can only talk about what’s good,” Bashara said. “I think it kind of levels the playing field in terms of the idea of so-called ‘good art’ because there’s no such thing. There can be good art, but the question has to be ‘good for whom?’”

Bashara’s students also participate in the icebreaker because they won’t feel as embarrassed. That’s part of the reason he believes people who have the unpopular opinion never state their beliefs in the first place.

“Well it’s embarrassing, right?” Bashara said. “If I admit I like Alanis Morrisette, which is my guilty pleasure, it reveals a lot about me that I wish people didn’t know. You get that idea of good doesn’t matter.”

Bashara also said part of the reason he believes a huge part of the population tends to like and dislike the same things in pop culture is because people feel alienated when they don’t agree.

“I think people are attached to these ideas of quality because to be attached to them means you’re smart and we all kind of inherited that idea. But I don’t think it’s true,” Bashara said. “You can be smart and like terrible things for your own reason, like ‘Bad Girl’s Club.’”

If someone does have the unpopular opinion, Hacker said people like Stahlke get negative reactions because people set the bar so high for the things they do love.

“I think that people sometimes hold the things they love at such a high pedestal, so when someone says they don’t like it, it just doesn’t make sense,” Hacker said. “But you have to remember that everyone has their own opinion, whether it’s music, TV shows or people.”

DePaul freshman Paige Bennett understands this every time someone talks about Adele. Bennett doesn’t like Adele, so when people find out she isn’t a fan, they always give her the same reaction.

“They’re shocked like, ‘oh my God. Why don’t you love her?’ I just don’t like her. Her music is slow and I like upbeat music better,” Bennett said.

Paige also gets a particular reaction when she and her sister, Loyola University of Chicago junior Ashley Bennett, tell people they’ve been to every one of Miley Cyrus’ concerts in Chicago.

One time Ashley told her coworker that she was obsessed with Cyrus and her coworker’s face expressed a mix of surprise and disgust.

“(Paige and I) get a lot of shade for loving Miley,” Ashley said. “That’s typical though. The outside opinion will always get bashed. But at the same time, I don’t really care. If I love her, I love her.”

Hacker has been in similar situations as Paige and Ashley every time someone talks about rap or electronic dance music (EDM). People always tell him it’s okay not to like EDM  but they ask what’s wrong with him every time he says he doesn’t like rap.

“It’s definitely an interesting phenomena when you say something like ‘I dislike rap or EDM,’ and I’ll say that to people,” Hacker said. “When I say that about EDM, people are like ‘oh yeah, that’s not everybody’s taste of music,’ but rap and hip-hop, people are like ‘what? You’re not a fan? What’s wrong with you? Are you kidding me?’”

He said he thinks this topic needs to be addressed because everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and shouldn’t have to make excuses for it.

“I personally think it’s a topic that needs to be addressed,” Hacker said. “You have an opinion but yet you have to back pedal and you feel bad for it because the way that our society is. And this is about everything. You say something and then you’re like ‘wait, I don’t want to offend any of the fans out there.’”

DePaul senior Robert Gardner didn’t even know he was offending people with his beliefs until later on. He tends to be very quiet about most of his opinions but he does like and comment on certain political posts on Facebook. When some people saw the things he liked, they would tell him how much they were getting annoyed by it.

Gardner checked later on and a few people had removed him as a friend on Facebook because of his opinions. He wasn’t really upset by it though because he believes everyone is entitled to their own views and said he would even do the same.

“I’m kind of on a teeter totter about it because on the one hand it’s like okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Gardner said. “I wish they would at least respect it and see my view but at the same time, if they constantly are getting spammed with a different political view, then I can see how they might be annoyed.”

Although Gardner can see things from more than one point of view, the same can’t be said for society as a whole. Hacker said one of the main reasons everyone gives each other a hard time is because they forget one major component.

“Everyone is allowed to have his or her own opinion,” Hacker said. “I just think sometimes society makes you forget that.”

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