How does criticism affect popular culture?

How does criticism affect popular culture?


Popularity is a great question; it’s just
an intriguing question. I think especially now in the kind of consumer
capitalist culture where taste and sometimes quality is being measured in dollars and in
numbers and in ratings and box office and all of that. And sometimes popularity is just taken to
be sufficient kind of judgment. It’s like well everybody liked that and that
movie made a ton of money. Everybody loved that movie. And sometimes those movies that everybody
loved actually turn out to be really good or I think they’re really good. Sometimes they’re not. But the popularity has a funny way of correcting
or reversing itself. It’s always fascinating to me how like when
I was a kid every single person it seemed bought this album, Frampton Comes Alive. And it was like the biggest selling album. I mean I’m dating myself. I’m a very old person, but it was on vinyl. And then like five years later you could not
give a copy of that – like no used record store would take your copy of that in trade
and just bins were full of it. Everyone was just like, “What? No.” And you see that with popular music; you see
that with movies. I mean a few years ago like Avatar made a
billion dollars and everyone was going to see it. It even showed up on the critic’s top 10 lists. It was just this frenzy about Avatar and now
nobody talks about it. It’s not even that people hate it, people
just don’t care about it. So popularity is a weird and fickle kind of
index of things. So it’s never identical to quality, although
sometimes it coincides with it. And I’ve been particularly fascinated with
how judgments change over time and how things that were very popular fall by the wayside,
but also how the opposite happens. How movies or books or paintings or music
or whatever that was ignored or mocked or rejected at its own moment resurfaces and
comes to seem so wonderful and to have such great value. I mean I write a little bit in the book about
Moby Dick, which is just one of my favorite examples of this. Herman Melville was a best selling author
of nautical adventures and he wrote this big philosophically ambitious novel about a whaling
voyage and the critics at the time basically sort of rejected it and it was forgotten. He was forgotten. It completely vanished. By the end of the 19th-century there was one
copy of it in a library somewhere that was in like the fishing section of the library. And now everyone who studies American literature
reads it and it’s sort of, by consensus, one of the great masterpieces of the American
literary imagination. How did that happen? What was the critical process? And that is an example of what criticism is
and how it works, both at its worst and its best that criticism it was critics who misjudged
this book and cast it aside and said this is impossible; this is 800 pages of like philosophical
gobbledygook and there’s not really any great whale hunting in here until the very end and
cast it aside. And then it was critics also, how so to speak,
fished it up out of the deep, out of oblivion and put it back on everybody’s shelf.

24 thoughts on “How does criticism affect popular culture?

  1. Some good points made in this. Popularity is influenced by many nefarious factors so it's usually a terrible gauge of success. Bell bottom pants were wildly popular back in the 70's…yuk! Of course if your goal is simply making money then anything that sells is successful even if it doesn't do what the manufacturer says it should for example.

  2. True! Like socialism. Socialism is very popular in capitalists countries. And very unpopular in all socialists countries after the real thing is on. Hungry, lack of liberty, brainwashing, death, violence, dictatorship make socialism unpopular. Exactly like John Lennon. It's easy to compose Imagine been very rich, popular and free. But in socialists countries, to imagine is not a right.

  3. Demonrats.believe if u lie lie lie and tell it over and over it makes it true..but they inch closer to thr QUEEN of.rot.daily….

  4. He's right you know, at first I thought 'Terminator Salvation' was a piece of crap, and then 'Dark Fate' was released. And I'm like, yeah, 'Salvation' was alright.

  5. Sometimes popular things are cool for a little while, and then the novelty wears off. WOW WHAT A FUCKIN INSIGHT MR PHD!

  6. culture what makes it popular… brain washing they bhave revised brain washing systems to a T and make you think a turd is the next big fad if thats what they wanted.. thats how hillary almost got elected but it dosnt work when they see threw the bullshit you have to distract them in order to reset the process like say blow somthing up or say gays are going to rule the world a study says and like a carrot on a stick they find the next thing to make you think is popular

  7. Umm I really liked avatar and been waiting forever for another movie. People often times don't talk about things that they have waited a good while for a sequel for. It took forever for the incredibles 2 movie to come out too.

  8. Popularity is nothing more than a combination of logical fallacies and cognitive biases. It's dreadfully simplistic, hastily judged and mostly bandwagon bullshit.

    The majority get together and agree with their dumb fuck opinions and then even if someone knows it's bullshit, they will use it as a virtue signal of sorts to manipulate other people into liking them or trusting them and thereby ensuring their own economic viability.

    Gee, thanks desperate social survival being raped by capitalism. (Sarcasm, obviously)

    just another example of how the stupid have overpopulated the planet and now they rule, like a mob, with their opinions.

    Welcome to the societal cult of opinionism.

  9. I went here to find some insight on how popular media rises and falls, and left with "Wow I should probably get around to reading moby dick" again

  10. Moby Dick. When it came out the critics ranked as it a "dud". Regulated to the "Fishing Books Section". Then it became a "stud". This video never explained the authors thoughts on "why". Very disappointing for me. Try harder "Big Think".

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