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Why Are We Influenced By Pop Culture?

From the moment we’re born, popular culture surrounds us and influences us. It’s the beliefs and practices that groups of us have in common. You see pop culture play out in the movies and shows we watch, the art, comics, and books we read, the toys and video games we play with, and the clothes we wear. But WHY does pop culture influence us? For this edition of the Never Stop Asking Why blog, we turn to our own American POP exhibit!

Why are we influenced by pop culture?

We express ourselves with pop culture

We see pop culture all day, every day. The way we interact with pop culture says a lot about us! Your favorite music says a lot about what kind of lyrics and rhythms get you in the groove. The kinds of books you read speaks volumes about the stories and themes you enjoy. You might have a toy based on a favorite character from a TV show or comic book; when you show interest in something from pop culture, it shows what you value as an individual!

Even the clothes you wear and the food you eat can show what you value. Chances are you have a favorite fast-food restaurant, and have a friendly argument when someone mentions they prefer a different one. You probably know of a certain brand of blue jeans that fits you particularly well, and go out of your way to buy them. Pop culture has a real effect on your everyday life, and how you see yourself in relation to others.

Pop culture encourages conversation

Even if you haven’t seen it, you probably know something about your parents’ favorite show or movie from when they were growing up. They’ve probably brought it up dozens of times, because they cherish those memories. Pop culture has the power to start conversations and build your relationships with your family and friends.

That goes the same for people you might not know well, like people at your school or place of work. You might not know a person very well, but there’s a good chance that they’ve seen the newest superhero movie, or played the latest popular video game. Your knowledge of those pieces of pop culture gives you something to talk about with someone who would otherwise be a stranger.

Pop culture keeps us moving

Do you still read that issue of your favorite comic book that came out three years ago? Probably not, because the plot has moved on and grown since that issue. One thing that makes pop culture so exciting is that it’s always on the move!

When new books, movies and games come out, you’re exposed to new ideas, new stories, new characters and even new writers and artists who bring their own experiences into pop culture. That means you have new experiences all the time, which makes you more aware of what’s going on in the world around you! Every day is a new opportunity to discover something new that you love!

American POP is a new, interactive exhibit that explores how popular culture has influenced our daily lives in the past and the present. The best news? American POP is a permanent exhibit that showcases a changing selection of objects from the museum’s collection.

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Whys" on the blog!