But "serious people" weren't allowed to take popular culture seriously.
Those "serious people" included college students in Humanities courses, doctoral students writing dissertations, executives in corporations making speeches and publishing books and lawyers arguing cases in court.
That was then. Actually it wasn't so long ago.
In the early 1980s, scholar Stuart Hall introduced the subject of popular culture in a lecture at the University of Illinois. In The New Yorker, Hua Hsu chronicles that revolution. Essentially it entailed pop culture's being classified and treated as "culture." Hall's lecture opened the door to "cultural studies."
The front lines of that disruption were scholars whose backgrounds were blue collar. They recognized that what they had experienced growing up was indeed culture.
Now, college students take courses studying the aggregate pop culture or bits and pieces such as how women are portrayed in the mass media.
Sure, there are doctoral dissertations on such matters, which at one time weren't considered worth scholarly investigation.
The speeches and articles we wrote for Lee Iacocca during the Chrysler turnaround were jam packed with pop culture references. In addition, Iacocca was the first corporate leader to use the language of the street, such as "coulda" and "shoulda."
And, even judges use pop culture to make a point in their written opinions. Here, Kathryn Rubino at Abovethelaw.com describes how Ninth Circuit Judge John Owens leveraged a reference to "Raiders of the Lost Ark." That was in his concurrence for the case of "U.S. v. Perez-Silvan."
Is the current challenge for Millennials and Gen Zers to experience and appreciate what used to be classified as "high culture?"
My Millennial clients have neither read nor seen a play by William Shakespeare. To fulfill "that kind of requirement" in college they took an American Studies or Womens Studies course.
No Bach or Beethoven comes through their doors or windows in this 400-unit complex.
Unless they had gone to art school, many have developed no interest in the visual art movements over the centuries.
I wonder, though: Had I not invested so many years in academia involved in the study of English Literature and the History of Ideas, would I even care about those artifacts of so-called high culture?
I have a hunch the answer is "no." The characters in "Criminal Minds" and in the film "Manchester By the Sea" are the entities which help me interpret my little world.
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