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Will contemporary pop culture still be known and enjoyed in coming centuries?


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#1
Nick1984

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By contemporary culture I obviously mean 1945 to today, though in this case mainly the 20th century.

The contemporary era is the age of globalisation, electricity, TV, radio and the internet. The age where wealth and technology was abundant for the first time in human history. The age where American fast food, pop, rock & roll, Hollywood and Silicon Valley took over and dominated the planet creating the first global monoculture.

- Music; millions of people saw The Beatles play in person and that record breaking Ed Sullivan appearance and their songs are well known 60 years later. Will Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury still be famous in hundreds of years?

- Movies; Star Wars Ep VII, Wizard of Oz, ET, Star Wars, Titanic, Terminator 2 are some of the most watched movies of all time globally. Will people in 200 years still Instantly recognise and watch them. Will kids still watch The Lion King (1994)?

What about other icons of 20th century will people in hundreds of years still be aware of? Bart Simpson? Mario? Darth Vader? Spider-man? CocaCola logo? Nike? Tom Hanks? Apple/Microsoft?

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#2
Nick1984

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Let's compare the above to popular culture from bygone centuries where 99% of the world was divided/disconnected and most people still lived in small pockets of rural poverty.

Beethoven died nearly 200 years ago, most people lived in rural poverty and barely anyone, barring German aristocracy, heard him actually play at the time. Yet today his music is easily accessible and still present in adverts, movies and ringtones.

Shakespeare died over 400 years ago, yet kids are still forced to learn his works at school and everyone knows a few lines and the titles of his play. Yet a fraction of a percentage of the English population saw his plays while he was alive.

Unlike the contemporary era with its broadcast TV, radios, internet, VHS, DVD and games consoles, 90% f the world would have never even heard that the above existed.

#3
Jakob

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The good stuff will generally be remembered, while the bad stuff gets forgotten. This will lead to people thinking that pop culture was better in the old days than modern-day garbage.


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#4
PhoenixRu

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Ask yourself: how many hits and bestsellers of XVII - XVIII centuries you remember?

 

This is the answer to your question.

 



#5
Nick1984

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Ask yourself: how many hits and bestsellers of XVII - XVIII centuries you remember?

This is the answer to your question.


You mean media from before the invention of the printing press?

#6
Jakob

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Ask yourself: how many hits and bestsellers of XVII - XVIII centuries you remember?

This is the answer to your question.


You mean media from before the invention of the printing press?

 

The 17th and 18th centuries were before the printing press?



#7
Nick1984

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The good stuff will generally be remembered, while the bad stuff gets forgotten. This will lead to people thinking that pop culture was better in the old days than modern-day garbage.


Our local radio station plays a mix of recent chart music and music from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. It's odd how much has been forgotten while the likes of Queen, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Mariah Carey still get heavily played to death.

I wonder whether the abundance in the streaming age (content is now at the mercy of Netflix and Spotify servers) and the resulting fragmentation of pop culture will mean this century will have less globally recognised icons compared to the last century?

When there were only 3 TV channels EVERYONE watched the same stuff.

#8
starspawn0

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Many of the top pop songs of the 2000s, and up near to the present day, were written by two people: Max Martin and Dr. Luke:

https://nypost.com/2...n-by-these-two/

I doubt they will be remembered as Mozarts and Beethovens of their day.

#9
Outlook

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It's still going to happen. Everbody in the world knows Tupac for example.


Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/DGe_Sluth3A


#10
Maximus

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No. 99% of what exists in the popular consciousness right now will be forgotten within a century: cultural compost like that described in Starspawn's article on the music industry has already been largely forgotten, never mind a hundred years from now. We live in this hyper-connected society dependent upon stimulation and immediate gratificiation from the internet; just because we're doing a lot more, does not mean we're getting a lot more done. Take the music industry example; they churn out "hit" after "hit', and yet inevitably most of these songs just wash in and out of the public consciousness. It's just mental junk food. For exeample, it seems to me almost all trap music, which is the mainstream right now, is just complete trash designed to fill airtime. I can't think of anything in this genre that has the potential to be memorable to future generations. To be fair though, this has probably been a constant feature of the mainstream; I'm sure the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s had their fair share of forgettable music. Think of the movie industry for example as well; we just don't get movies like  Titanic, or Top Gun anymore. It's just constant regurgitation of comic movies, and remakes of franchises from the 80s (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc). To be fair, there have been a few impressive movies; Avatar and Interstellar were pretty cool, but I think only Avatar has long-term potential, if that.

 

I'm afraid this will only get worse though; the internet has been a blessing, but also a massive curse on society. Nothing is created to last or to have any meaning anymore; it's all about how many views and likes you can get. People do stupid shit just "for the gram" (translation: just to post it on Instagram), or snapchat. Content is created just to go viral, garner a million forgettable views and meaningless likes, and then fade away into the hazy webs of the internet. Platforms like Vine and TikTok are the pinnacle of this disease plaguing the internet, and indeed public health; what better way to encourage the production of meaningless cultural refuse than to reward people with gratification of views and likes for producing meaningless 6 second videos? Same goes for all social media really; people actually spend their lives thinking that anything they post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. actually matters. People actually travel to places like Thailand, just to take a goddamn picture for instagram. Or even worse, they make careers out of posting pictures of their lives, and become "influencers", whose sole purpose in life is to provide recyclable content for people who have nothing better to do than to sit with their heads in their phones all day. It's just a neverending stream of shit that doesn't matter, that will be forgotten--and the frustrating part is that these people are squandering their creativity and potential on this pointless obsession. That's not saying anything about the health consequences of social media. Speaking form the perspective of someone who grew up alongside social media (I remember Facebook becoming big when I was nearing the end of elementary school), I am shocked that the adults of this world let this drug into our hands. Nobody, not for a second, stopped to consider what devastating effects this could have on our personal wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of society at large. If ever something were to make me enter politics, it would be bringing about the end of social media, at least in its current form. Regulations should be made to ban displaying any statistic akin to "views", or "likes". Platforms encouraging meaningless fodder (Vine, TikTok) should be banned. In fact, minors should only be allowed an extremely restricted version of social media; something designed to allow communication, but aimed at discouraging endless scrolling through a feed of bullshit. I don't know how this could be done; maybe integrated biometric sensors on internet connected devices that can read genetic age. 

 

Phew, rant over. To put it short, I'm afraid internet culture is contributing to a phenomenon of producing ever increasing quantities of increasingly forgettable cultural content--and at an accelerating pace too. We've already entered this era, so the answer to your question is that the odds are increasingly against anything being remembered at all. The way things are going, everything that is created will simply flicker in and out of existence in the public consciousness, and be forgotten. Who knows, with BCI's the way, this could eventually occur on timescales of minutes, seconds, or even milliseconds. A meme could go viral, and be forgotten in an instant, because a billion other memes would be created in that instant. It's going to be flood of meaningless information. I don't know, I can't live in that kind of future. I've already grown so disillusioned with the current state of internet culture, I'm terrified of where we're headed. Maybe it's too late to even put a stop to it by regulating it.



#11
PhoenixRu

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Everbody in the world knows Tupac for example.

 

Never even heard of him, to be honest...

 

No. 99% of what exists in the popular consciousness right now will be forgotten within a century: cultural compost like that described in Starspawn's article on the music industry has already been largely forgotten, never mind a hundred years from now. We live in this hyper-connected society dependent upon stimulation and immediate gratificiation from the internet; just because we're doing a lot more, does not mean we're getting a lot more done. Take the music industry example; they churn out "hit" after "hit', and yet inevitably most of these songs just wash in and out of the public consciousness. It's just mental junk food.

 

Absolutely right. I can add that the rest 1% that will be selected and remembered by descendants as "immortal classics" is NOT equal to what is considered best and worth remember today. No, they will select according to their own (not our) needs and aesthetic tastes.

 

In sci-fi movie Cloud Atlas, the distant descendants are well remember "Robert Frobisher, the greatest composer of XX century". His music was completely forgotten by his contemporaries, but was rediscovered several centuries later. Very plausible situation, actually.



#12
Outlook

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You guys are forgetting that we have giant cultural icons. Yall are just living with reverse-recency bias.

Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/DGe_Sluth3A


#13
Nick1984

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No. 99% of what exists in the popular consciousness right now will be forgotten within a century: cultural compost like that described in Starspawn's article on the music industry has already been largely forgotten, never mind a hundred years from now. We live in this hyper-connected society dependent upon stimulation and immediate gratificiation from the internet; just because we're doing a lot more, does not mean we're getting a lot more done. Take the music industry example; they churn out "hit" after "hit', and yet inevitably most of these songs just wash in and out of the public consciousness. It's just mental junk food. For exeample, it seems to me almost all trap music, which is the mainstream right now, is just complete trash designed to fill airtime. I can't think of anything in this genre that has the potential to be memorable to future generations. To be fair though, this has probably been a constant feature of the mainstream; I'm sure the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s had their fair share of forgettable music. Think of the movie industry for example as well; we just don't get movies like Titanic, or Top Gun anymore. It's just constant regurgitation of comic movies, and remakes of franchises from the 80s (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc). To be fair, there have been a few impressive movies; Avatar and Interstellar were pretty cool, but I think only Avatar has long-term potential, if that.


Are you implying that pop culture from the 60s/70s/80s/90s will be remembered long after stuff from the 21st century is forgotten?

#14
Maximus

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Are you implying that pop culture from the 60s/70s/80s/90s will be remembered long after stuff from the 21st century is forgotten?

Yes, I was. However, I'm not sure even those iconic parts of what has largely been British and American culture will last. Take this for example:

 

 

Everbody in the world knows Tupac for example.

Never even heard of him, to be honest...

To us North Americans, Tupac might be a household name, but to Phoenix--a Russian--it's completely plausible that he could be unknown. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves here; Western-Anglo culture has become more global than any other previous culture, but it is nowhere near omnipresent. We might be globalizing, but we haven't yet globalized. There are still major rifts between civilizations. If the future is Chinese, you can expect even less from contemporary American culture to be remembered a few centuries from now--in fact, given China's propensity for censorship, it could all be forgotten. Think; how many famous Chinese writers and artists can you name? Confucius, and that's about it. One person, out of millions. Countless works of art that our part of the world has no idea ever existed. The Chinese might, but the gap between our civilzations has shut that information out for the most part. Of course, you can use the internet to read about it, but the point is that you have to go to special effort to find it; there aren't dozens of ancient Chinese writers and poets floating around in Western pop culture. 



#15
Maximus

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You guys are forgetting that we have giant cultural icons. Yall are just living with reverse-recency bias.

Who would be these cultural icons in your view? I would tend to agree more with Phoenix here; if anything, history has taught us that many great cultural icons go largely unnoticed in their time, only to be honoured much later. 



#16
Nick1984

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Are you implying that pop culture from the 60s/70s/80s/90s will be remembered long after stuff from the 21st century is forgotten?

Yes, I was. However, I'm not sure even those iconic parts of what has largely been British and American culture will last. Take this for example:

 

Some good points here and I certainly don't disagree with any of them. However...

 

- China, up until the late 20th century was insular with no interest in interacting with the world or exporting it's culture. Despite recent attempts with big budget movies and rip-off Anime it's still completely failing in this regard. Conversely Hollywood movies are now big in China, even Disney opened a huge theme park there recently.

 

- Russia, as with China, spent most of the 20th century under a brutal Communist regime. Foreign media from outside the Iron Curtain was completely blocked (as it is in North Korea today).

 

- Tupac's one of the most memorable rappers of the 90s, however he was nowhere near as big as the likes of Elvis, The Beatles, Prince, Michael Jackson etc. You won't hear his music played in shops or TV adverts, even today.

 

 

As for America, I recently made a thread about America's pop culture export and it's impact on the world...

 

https://www.futureti...y-americanised/



#17
Outlook

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You guys are forgetting that we have giant cultural icons. Yall are just living with reverse-recency bias.

Who would be these cultural icons in your view? I would tend to agree more with Phoenix here; if anything, history has taught us that many great cultural icons go largely unnoticed in their time, only to be honoured much later.
But Shakespeare, Mozart, Claude Monet, Da Vinci, Charles Dickens, all lived long enough to witness veneration and financial support for their own work. It's just that before, there wasn't the framework for a wide distribution of their work that would bring them a wide level of fame & fortune like artists have now, and relied on patronage and finance from the nobility to reach a high level of status (with exception of Dickens). If you guys want to speak on people who were internationally famous for their time and famous now, they were politicians. People whose names that were naturally widely distributed to the plebs, the plebs that cared more about their own condition than the contemporary arts.

As for examples on modern cultural icons; Kanye West (love him or hate him, you know him and his musical influence isn't light), soccer icons like Christiano Ronaldo and Messi will be remembered beside greats, Usain Bolt has cemented his name in pop culture forever, Stephen Hawking as well and most likely JK Rowling.

It's just not easy to see yet because we look at them in the now and think their impact or fame is little because to us it may seem little in comparison to what were supposed to be the magnificent greats, but in reality the people who were also exposed to their fame at that time probably cared as little for them as we do now to our own celebrities.

Sure cultural shift feels like they're moving fast, but it's moreso I believe because we have more information spreading than the fact that we're actually moving at an insane speed. Just look at the difference between the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the large amount of turnover there. The cultural shift between the 2000s and 2010s then pales in comparison.

Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/DGe_Sluth3A


#18
PhoenixRu

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As for examples on modern cultural icons; Kanye West (love him or hate him, you know him and his musical influence isn't light), soccer icons like Christiano Ronaldo and Messi will be remembered beside greats, Usain Bolt has cemented his name in pop culture forever...

 

No offence, man, but this was funny. I can repeat: how many great runners or football stars from, say, 1960-s you can recall without asking wikipedia?



#19
Outlook

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Pelé, scrub.

EDIT: The fact that you don't know either Pelé or Tupac means I will assume you live under a rock in Siberia and will exclude you from this discussion on pop culture.

Outlook's secret song of the ~week: https://youtu.be/DGe_Sluth3A


#20
PhoenixRu

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The fact that you don't know either Pelé or Tupac means I will assume you live under a rock in Siberia and will exclude you from this discussion on pop culture.

 

Under my rock, I'm happy with our own pop culture. Even though I'm well aware this all will be completely forgotten within just 20-50 years.


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