What fuels popular culture? In a word, hype. We, however, should be fueled by something else. Especially during Advent.
Not surprisingly, we rarely, if ever, discuss Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, here at BreakPoint. Especially women’s MMA. Our view is the less said about women pounding each other for the entertainment of an overwhelmingly male audience, the better.
Still, a recent headline at ESPN.com is worth noting. It read “Ronda Rousey Emerges after UFC 193 Loss with a Funny Hat and a Smiling Face.”
Even if you don’t know anything about MMA, chances are you’ve seen a picture of Rousey somewhere, or heard her name. She has dominated sports headlines this year. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that, in the run-up to her fights, the only people more ubiquitous than she are the Kardashians.
And all the hype surrounding Rousey, as the ESPN headline demonstrates, continues even after she was knocked out by her opponent, a 20-to-1 underdog.
Now, I’m not picking on Rousey, and this may very well be the last time MMA is ever mentioned on BreakPoint. But we do need to think through the role that hype plays in American culture, especially popular culture.
Simply put, American pop culture, and increasingly American culture overall, is driven by hype and self-promotion.
Case in point: pop music. In an article aptly entitled “Hit Charade,” the Atlantic Monthly told readers how “the bald Norwegians and other unknowns…actually create the songs that top the charts.”
The article noted that a handful of people, “a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits.” So what do the stars bring to the mix? The “full time job” of being “a global celebrity,” of course. In other words, hype and self-promotion.
At least we can say they sing the songs. Over the past two decades “reality television” has given us “stars” who are the epitome of historian Daniel Boorstin’s definition of a celebrity: “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”
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