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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what pop culture stuff generally regarded as cool is actually crap?


Saw this tweet from writer Charlie Higson the other day:

I must agree with his choice. And the idea inspires this week’s Question:

What pop culture stuff generally regarded as cool is actually crap?

Have fun!

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)


  • MisterAntrobus

    Journey, and any song they ever recorded. It’s really time for the pop culture resurgence of “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” to die. A lot of people pretend to like that song, and the band, ironically, but I think secretly they just have bad taste.

  • RogerBW

    Social media. Just a way to feed the Big Data machine.

  • Danielm80

    I’m sick of “Will they or won’t they?” storylines that never end. The conventional wisdom says that once a couple gets together, all the tension goes out of a TV show. That puzzles me, because a lot of the most successful shows of all time were about married couples. We keep getting TV series in which the characters almost get together, or keep breaking up over and over again. (See: Ross and Rachel.) I don’t mind the formula when it works, but I’d rather have the writers create interesting characters and put them in interesting relationships.

  • singlestick

    The JJ Abrams rip-off TV shows and movies need to be stopped now.

    NBC’s “Blacklist” is the best worst example of this. The adventures of the show’s protagonist has been undermined from the jump by conspiracies within conspiracies and hordes of characters who are “not what they seem to be.” The problem is, when you have all this crap going on, it is pointless to root for anyone (good guy or bad guy), and the only thing you have left is waiting for the “shocking revelation” of the mysterious relationship between Jame Spader’s master criminal and Megan Boone’s newly minted profiler.

    Also, I am tired of all the TV shows with hipster psychological problems. While it’s good to know that so many Hollywood screenwriters are getting therapy, I don’t need to have this stuff spill out into every freaking screenplay.

    Also, JJ Abrams himself doesn’t need to be stopped, but he needs to be slowed down. He ain’t the heir to Spielberg, and he and his cohorts are far, far less talented than people think.

    Also, Kung-Fu will always be cool.

  • singlestick

    Almost all pop culture, by definition, is about bad taste. Ephemeral pleasures don’t really hold up to any kind of critical scrutiny.

  • Anchorman?

    Pretty much anything Judd Apatow?
    Tony Bennett – Maybe he was good back in the day, but listening to him now is like nails on a chalkboard.
    There’s tons of music, but anyone with any sense, or taste, already knows it’s all crap. (i.e. Robin Thicke, Katy Perry, etc.)

    Dancing With the Stars – Total utter CRAP that my wife watches for some unknown reason. Ugh.
    There are some great Kung Fu movies out there, but a good chunk of them are indeed crap. Same with Samurai movies.

  • RogerBW

    Well, Sturgeon’s Law still applies. Sometimes to the third or fourth recursion.

  • Adam Stevenson

    Never eating a creme brulee with you then. The very definition of an ephemeral pleasure.

    (Also, as far as I can afford, I collect 18th century ephemera because I find in fascinating, so are broadside ballads).

  • singlestick

    Some people like creme brulee; other people like Twinkies. I think your collecting 18 century ephemera sounds cool, but it doesn’t mean that you have either good, or bad, taste.

  • MisterAntrobus

    Well, that kinda defeats the whole purpose of MaryAnn’s question, I guess . . .

  • Erik

    Modern Art…pretty much all of it.

  • Froborr

    Much as I am a fan, if you sit and think about it, pretty much all of Doctor Who.

  • singlestick

    No. It’s fun to bash, but with a little perspective and humility, perhaps.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Until teleporting is invented I”ll appreciate the instant pics and conversations…makes expat life a bit more bearable.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Echo chambers. Malls. 99% of all American fast food. 80’s hair, without the laughs. Propaganda thinly veiled as entertainment, I prefer mine thickly veiled ;)

  • LaSargenta

    The aesthetics of the 1970’s.

    There was a LOT that was really important about that decade, but when I went to see Rush recently, the trailer for American Hustle played and it reminded me of all the crap that was really crap then and seems to be getting a turn in the fashion spotlight now. Every time has it’s crap (the US 1950s and propagandistic westerns, anyone?), but I lived through the 70’s and none of the stuff I thought was cool or important at the time seems to be used as touchstones…books like Our Bodies Ourselves, movies like Cruising, albums like The Lodger, … punk rock never really left for some of us… the politics, Cox’s Saturday Night Massacre, the killing of Hoffa … Last winter I took the pixie (yes, I’m afraid I’m going to keep calling him that even after he’s fully grown) to see Hit The Wall, a play about Stonewall — the bar, not the general. Yeah, that happened in 1969, but it became a symbol for the radical movement of coming out of the closets in the 70’s.

    So, pop culture adoration of Jherri curls and slinky dresses with slits up to there and half-tinted sunglasses is crap.

  • Emil Hyde

    HIT THE WALL is a great show.

  • David N-T

    Kung Fu movies are no more crap than other kind of movies. One thing I could use less of is the overuse of irony/sarcasm. It has its time and place, but there comes a point where it becomes a safety blanket that impedes serious discussion and real human relationships.

  • MisterAntrobus

    The world of music seems to be full of artists and bands that the cognoscenti have appointed as “great,” without a lot of justification that I can see, other than the fact that many of them have similar tastes. I don’t get the enthusiasm among rock nerds for REM, Green Day, or Tom Petty, to name a few; and I sure have tried to listen to Kanye West and identify any shred of the genius that’s attributed to him, but I’ve had no luck.

  • LaSargenta

    o_O That’s what rock nerds are into these days? REM and Tom Petty? I like both, but I’d hardly call them rock nerd material as they’re pretty mainstream. For that, it’d have to be The Replacements, Joy Division, Tom Tom Club, Simply Saucer, Goldfrapp … just pulling some random “cool” “obscure” bands that various people I’ve known seem to haul out for hipper-than-thou remarks. Depending on the crowd. Depending on the generation. Has nothing to do with whether they like ’em for themselves, but there’s a certain kind of rock nerd who seems to only go for the “obscure” unless they go for total pop with irony.

  • MisterAntrobus

    Well, there’s always the contingent of those who just have to be on the absolute cutting edge of everything, or are obscurantists by preference or merely a contrary personality. I guess I’m not talking about the hipsters so much as the people who consider themselves knowledgeable about music – critics, either professional or self-appointed.

  • LaSargenta

    Glad you liked it. We did, too.

  • Jerry Colvin

    Anything Kevin Smith.

  • cal

    The Three Stooges. It’s not just me bashing on them because I’m a woman; the stuff that happens in between the slapstick beatings is really, really dull and stupid.

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