Insidious Pop Culture 

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Duane Cardall could use a chelada. I don’t know Duane. I just know his name from the television, and I can’t tell you if he’s a weather wonk or a sports entertainment groupie or a news babe. So, imagine my surprise when I saw him launching into a preachy KSL editorial the other night—man, has this guy earned the trust of Groupthink Inc., or what? I thought Don Gale had that job for life, but the only TV guy that matters, Bill Frost™, tells me it’s been a couple of years since Mr. Gale last warned us that we’re going straight to hell if we don’t wise up.

It would be fair of you to wonder what I was doing watching KSL in the first place. Truth is, I wasn’t. And, truth is, I didn’t hear all of Cardall’s editorial. I was channel surfing, accidentally hit the 5 on my remote, and voila, Duane Cardall is telling everyone how awful it is to listen to rap or hip-hop music. He ended by saying that we need to be aware of the dangers lurking in today’s “insidious pop culture.” Cardall’s point seemed to be that not only the music, but any activity beyond the clinically tested and approved lifestyle is just a cheap beckon from Beelzebub himself.

Considering that we report about, participate in, and define pop culture weekly is no cause to be upset with Cardall, and we’re not. We’ve heard it all before, and it pales next to what we grew up with. People my age readily remember when the Cardalls of the day called for the burning of rock music albums. Those fires were big news and didn’t do squat. Then there was the time John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Christ. More fires, more squat. Before that it was Elvis. Before that it was Hank Williams. Before that it was black music; and before records it was an author or poet.

Given that Cardall is no spring chicken (“spring chicken” is a cliché that could only have become one by embedding itself in some long ago “pop culture” lexicon), he must certainly see the irony of using TV, the ultimate “pop culture” medium, as his podium. Like it or not, he too is a part of pop culture, a position in which he can be praised or pilloried.

Actually, we feel sorry for Cardall and anyone else married to the notion that bland is better. As they avoid our “insidious pop culture” they fear the Dead Goat blues, the uncut Titanic, the city beat of Papyion’s, a Sedaris best-seller and the ribs at Q4U. They even fear the lowly chelada—a pop culture phenomenon of these pages if there ever was one.

That, folks, ain’t insidious—that’s ignorance.

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