Popular Culture As Religion: Please Kill Your God

A few years after the twentieth century ended the world became terrible. The economy shit the bed, everyone lost their jobs, the government started to become evil, and all educational programing was systematically replaced by “reality” television. It was as if Orwell made a half-assed attempt to write a comedy but it ended up being our actual lives instead of a single work that permanently defamed him. This new world worked out great if you wanted to live in perpetual poverty watching idiots argue wide-eyed about nothing in particular over a staccato soundtrack between fifteen minutes of advertising. But, if you were interested in being more than a culture zombie, things were going to get rough the second you left college and entered the intellectual desert of everyday life.

The internet had become our last bastion of cultural hope but that too had begun the slow decent into repugnancy. Advertising started appearing on YouTube right around the same time Justin Bieber did. Video hosting websites just started sneaking them in over the course of a few years. Now if you want to watch an instructional video on replacing your old car’s exhaust manifold, you have to watch a commercial about why you need to change insurance companies immediately. But it’s not just the advertisements that have become a problem, it’s the repetitive meaningless quizzes, the “feeling blessed” status updates, and the incessant regurgitation of popular culture.

It’s almost as if this is the new faith– a distraction from reality that makes us feel safe and comfortable and keeps us from the big questions. God’s will used to stop us from obsessing over how the universe works or questioning our places in society. Now we have BuzzFeed and fake unscripted television for that. All of this garbage keeps you willfully ignorant of what is actually going on.

And the problem isn’t so much that the trash is out there, it’s that it is as pervasive as head lice in the second grade. In a single weekend I have involuntarily been witness to online articles of Disney Princesses as zombies, as steam-punk characters, as hipsters, as sexy nerd girl cosplay, as traditional cosplay, as plus sized cosplay, as cross-dressing cosplay, as tattoos, as fake Twitter accounts, and as a seemingly infinite mass ejection of throwaway memes. Despite legitimate artists everywhere creating brand new characters and original content, we are praising those who are co-opting popular images and characters by sharing their work over and over again. Combining two things people already like isn’t innovative or cool. It’s just a good way to con someone into thinking you’re an actual artist while selling a few shirts. Yet people everywhere flip their lids over the same tired photos of big breasted women in Darth Vader masks and doodles of Dr. Mario taking a dump in the TARDIS without a moment’s pause.

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Someone creates a website where they’ve added glasses to Batman villains and then the worst kind of writer finds it and turns it into the laziest article imaginable on some popular website. Twelve hours later, they’ve got a successful post and idiots everywhere are clapping their hands, sharing it, and then to my chagrin re-sharing it until it is nearly unavoidable. It’s the mental and cultural equivalent of fast food. While familiar, prevalent, and sometimes tasty, it probably isn’t very good for you when you consume a lot of it. Think about all of the original content you are missing from artists, authors, and musicians with something completely original to say. I bet you would be getting a richer experience from their work and I bet they’d dig a share or two. That way they can get big and we can have brand new cultural icons that less creative people can copy and Hollywood can recycle into terrible films.

As a contrarian, I know I am obnoxiously and instinctively going against the grain. With that said, I am still completely aware that there are some really decent pop-culture comics and BuzzFeed articles buried among the rest. But I wouldn’t go digging through a mass grave to find the hottest corpse to have sex with, would you?

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About You Monsters Are People

Wisdom, wonderment and weird for everyone.
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43 Responses to Popular Culture As Religion: Please Kill Your God

  1. larebe says:

    thank you for putting so eloquently what goes through my mind on a daily basis… cultural scurvy is what I call it… please continue being contrary!!

  2. Byron says:

    We deserve every bit of tripe that is out there. It’s what we want, so that’s what we get. There is no Secret Cabal of men in suits twisting their mustaches, conspiring to lower the National IQ; just us. The internet is a perfect mirror, and has shown us exactly how lazy, vapid, and scared we really are.

    Or maybe it’s not “laziness”. Maybe so many people are just tired – – worry, anxiety, and feat tend to drain your desire to find and appreciate novelty and originality.

    Great piece. I sense your anger.Good. Good…

    It gives you power. Strength.

    • I get that it’s appealing to just throw in the mental towel and settle into a nice three weeks of not thinking while binging on Netflix and zoning-out at work. It’s totally known to me that being paid just enough to continue living makes you just want to stay at home and experience zero new feelings. I am aware that it is difficult for some to want to find out real answers and maybe encourage something neat to happen.

      And it’s totally your right to age like fucking potato on a bag. Getting soft, old, and smelly while the good potatoes become french fries, chips, and all of the good things that you never will.

      Thanks for the insight and accolades. And thanks for making original content. I love you.

  3. Lizi says:

    The internet is not really a place to exercise your brain. I mean, I like YouTube sometimes, but there are these little things called books. They aren’t bad at all, once you get used to being unable to scroll. And they’re good for things like MAKING BRANE SMRT.

    • The internet doesn’t need to be a mindless waste of time. There is actually a lot of useful information, outstanding art, and intelligent discourse going on. But I’ve noticed it’s becoming harder to find and getting more easily lost in the sea of noise and commercials.

      We should try for better. But it’s always still a great idea to give a shout-out to books.

    • Byron says:

      I wholeheatedly disagree with the notion that the internet is not a place to exercise your brain. I learn more history, grammar, math, and science than I EVER HAVE IN MY ENTIRE ACADEMIC CAREER while using the internet.

      If used correctly, the internet can (for resourceful, savvy people) render expensive universities useless – – not in terms of the school’s pedigree, but possibly in terms of what is learned.

  4. Another killer piece of satire.

  5. samara says:

    THERE you are. In my reader, at last.

    This is, as usual, a great post.

    At the risk of sounding like an asshole, what exactly is BuzzFeed? Is it like Pinterest?
    And your tags – who is Mr. Bevins, and who is this Dr. Who that everyone talks about? It’s not a Dr. Suess character is it?

    I have a 10 year old, a full time job, and a blog. I’m completely out of touch. I’m sure it’s a good thing.

    • Bevins is my most popular and least well thought out hateful one-dimensional character… and a duck.

      BuzzFeed is a place where people go to avoid thinking or doing anything.

      • samara says:

        I went and saw what Buzzfeed is. It looks like an online People magazine.

        I feel terrible that I didn’t know Bevins was your duck character’s name! Are there any other characters whose names I should be made aware of, to avoid future embarrassment?

        And Dr. Who is apparently a TV show that everyone but me watches. Like Walking Dead.

      • No, Bevins is the only character with a name. Although, technically, I have a name.

        People magazine is awful.

  6. I feel a bit pressured here to say something intelligent….I completely agree with you. Check out the attention this gem has been getting: http://thoughtcatalog.com/anne-gus/2014/03/asian-women-need-to-stop-dating-white-men/#XLPmG3Vk0x5zkx9h.01, “liked” 116K times on Facebook, makes me cringe, also makes me very very sad.

    • This is either the worst execution of satire I have ever seen in my entire life or just a very lazy racist rant.

      With that said, I get hit on by Asian women fairly frequently… for whatever that is worth.

  7. markwoff says:

    Great phrase! ‘a seemingly infinite mass ejection of throwaway memes’. The endless fountain of cats someone did on Minecraft read as a metaphor for this very culture, in endless genuine doctoral theses… stamped on your facebook page as “liked” forever.

  8. madeyamu says:

    Reblogged this on imade.

  9. Where have you been… for a relatively small part of my life?

    I can’t like this. There aren’t any cats. Where are your cats, man? Granted, cats ARE cute as hell.

    Fuck this place. We’ve turned a beautiful, green, floating rock into a glittering cesspool of
    advertisements and stupid. I wanna be a turtle.

    Can you send me some pictures? I wanna do a post
    purely to advertise your blog. Why, aside from that you’re wonderful? The truth: you remind me,
    on a semi-regular basis, that I am not completely insane. And that’s a goodie! Tank ye!

    • You are welcome to modify any image for the single purpose of propagating it.

      You are also welcome to stencil, spray, and marker any of my artwork or words anywhere you would like.

      Please be aware that graffiti can yield a fairly hefty fine so get permission if possible.

  10. Books, books, books. Every book ever written is accesisible, and available immidiately. And with the advent of e-publishing so many classic books are free, and the rest cost so much less than when they were published traditionally. With that, you have oceans of ideas, and brilliance, to swim in. And that is because of the internet. If you can’t find dozens of items to stimulate and entertain you amidst this horn of plenty then something is wrong.

  11. Zelda! says:

    I agree whole heartedly with what you’re saying and I believe many others do. Hence the rise in books and articles on being ‘mindful’ living in the moment etc. While sometimes I’m engrossed in a buzzfeed article I think it’s important to detach yourself from culture completely. Strip down to basics. For me the best place is the coastline. It’s usually quiet, a lot of it is untouched and you’ll never hear a Katy Perry song there (not that I don’t like Katy Perry – I do). Being surrounded by pop culture all the time used to make me so angry! The amount of importance being placed on a kardashian or a footballer just annoyed me, I mean there’s so much more out there. Regardless of how you do it I think everyone needs to unplug from pop culture even if it’s for a few hours a week.

  12. Jared says:

    It’s sad how the internet USED to be this great thing, a place for connection and learning. Now it’s more like a Narcissists favorite place to score a high…

  13. sveta30 says:

    Accurate. I think I’m going to enjoy my stay in this blog. Thank you for giving me a better, thought-provoking way to procrastinate :)

  14. prenin says:

    Now you see why I only watch the news – well, OK, I just read the red button news and try to avoid watching the latest disaster unfold.

    God Bless and thanks for this – very interesting!!! :)

    Prenin.

  15. Angelle says:

    Matt, I’m going to dedicate a whole post to “The 21 Ways I Heart Matt Posky”. It’s going to be all cat GIFS. People love cat GIFS and lists of shit.

  16. Ripley Trout says:

    The internet as the new opium of the people. Such wisdom, eloquence, and humour. … If only you weren’t the sort of wanton necrophiliac who just shags the nearest available corpse without even bothering to sift through the pile for a hot one. Have you no standards?

  17. lonelygirl says:

    Ooh pretty harsh comments about people who are in subcultures etc. I do agree with you that what orwell wrote holds true. Its amazing that someone could have conceived something which would one day be our future. Good insight.

  18. Brenda says:

    I’d have to say no to your last question, but I so agree with the rest!! LOL

  19. Doone says:

    I attribute the media droning and social apathy to sheer fear. Its like when you know someone is following you and they’re right behind you, but instead of turning around you just walk faster and pretend the person isn’t there. People know how bad things are. They are desperately trying to carry on as if nothing is wrong. This is why we drown ourselves in the social media.

  20. Thanks for the great post! I think you’re really on point about how reductive pop culture has become, but especially about how all that meme-y fluff drowns out the original, creative stuff. I wonder though if people were really that much more profound at any point in history? In a way being creative (or at least being a connoisseur of creativity) is such a privilege of leisure. Social media and the web make it so much easier now than ever – you don’t have to travel to see that exhibition to see the art, or to that concert to hear the music, or to those archives in some faraway land to read documents that are now available for free in digitized form. I’m rambling! haha sorry! My point is just that maybe having the means to a deeper, wider social awareness needs to precede its emergence and, in that light, maybe even awful Disney princess posts can still be seen as sort of promising?

  21. You strike me as an accurate chronicler of the madness. I salute you and your efforts.

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