Pop culture staying power. Does it even exist? The term pop culture implies that it, whatever the ‘it’ may be, is popular at a point in time – a fad. Popularity fades. So while there may be very few things that are deemed timeless by the collective people - Saturday Night Live, "Don't Stop Believin'," the mullet - there are things that are timeless to each of us.
|Anne Brummel as Elphaba|
When this topic popped into my mind, the first thing that hit the nail on the head was Wicked. Wicked is my favorite Broadway musical by a mile. I now suffer from PWD (post-Wicked disorder), which is an affliction that strikes when I am sitting in a theater watching a great show but wishing all the while that the show was Wicked instead. One reason Wicked sticks is because it takes place in another world and therefore does not age the way the shows that rely on current events for plots and punch lines do (Spamalot comes to mind). And yet, even though the show is set in a fantasy world, the emotions and motivations of all of the characters are rooted in reality and wholly identifiable. Wicked is a show that is in my life for good.
Photo: Walter Hansen
Tastes change throughout our lives, but I have loved folk music my entire life and there is no sign of that ever changing. I grew up listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary and John McCutcheon primarily, but musicians such as Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton were also in heavy rotation. Even years later, I would jump at the chance to hear new music from any one of them or see them perform live. My affinity for folk music led me to another musician that I will listen to forever: Josh Ritter. The instant I discovered him on NPR I was hooked. While I may not listen to him and his incredible band exclusively the way I once did, I will follow his every musical move as long as he is writing and performing. See him live if you ever have a chance. The tickets will likely be reasonably priced because he is still a well-kept secret, and you’ll have a blast and be a fan for life.
Some people may not consider food to be in the realm of popular culture, but I disagree. And though Jell-O has moved way beyond its’ heyday, there is a Jell-O salad at all of my family’s gatherings. I went through a phase some time ago where I was consuming 2 boxes of Jell-O every week – sugar free of course, so just delicious gelatinous water. There is one other food that will always be a staple: cereal. I love cereal, everything about it, all varieties. Cheerios, Life, Honey Bunches of Oats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Waffle Crisp, I love them all. I actually eat Fiber One Original everyday (not necessarily because it’s a favorite…) mixed with something that does not taste like cardboard. My affinity for cereal only increased during college, also known as cereal heaven. What’s for dinner? A fajita with a side of Cracklin’ Oat Bran? Sounds wonderful! I sometimes ate cereal at every meal, and if it weren’t for the rock solid self-restraint I have developed, I still would.
The list could go on and on. And it doesn't mean I avoid new opportunities, but some things just hit the sweet spot. I mean, I love the new varieties of Cheerios General Mills has been chugging out.
So what has staying power for you?