You may have noticed that I tend to veer wildly from the course set by the Playblast Podcast. That current course – as set out on the ‘about’ page – is ‘Popular Culture’, in its many forms.
Popular Culture: the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture – particularly Western culture. (Phew, that’s a mouthful and what’s a meme?) So, if enough of us find the same thing funny or sad or interesting or cool, then it enters the arena of Popular Culture – still doesn’t fully account for Simon Cowell though does it?
These days, within your average Popular Culture, social media rules and, where once a select few led, an army of YouTubers, Facebookers and Bloggers now hold a nation’s hearts and minds. Of course, telly is still a Popular Culture force to be reckoned with, and currently most of that ‘force’ is down to the efforts of one erudite man – the supremely clever Steven Moffat. Where would the Beeb be without Sherlock and The Doctor? Doesn’t bear thinking about does it? Let’s imagine, for a moment, an entertainment desert, with nothing but Eastenders as far as the eye can see and no welcoming Moffat-filled oasis – double (to use an icon taken directly from Popular Culture.)
I enjoy an episode of Doctor Who as much as the next person (the Who reviews on the Playblast Podcast are more entertaining than the series, if you ask me, but then you’re not asking me are you?) I long ago passed the boy band age (never really saw the appeal) but thanks goes to the Playblast Podcast for enlivening my day re: the tear soaked teen suffering an online breakdown due to some kid I’ve never heard of, leaving some band I’ve barely heard of. But there’s your essence of Popular Culture right there. It has the power to tug at a nation’s heartstrings in a way that non-Popular Culture (or The Arts) could never hope to do. Ok, you may be one of those culture vultures whose head is turned by a Van Gogh, or whose eyes glisten with emotion as the fat lady sings (for an interminable length of time, in a language that usually differs markedly from English), or who finds the comic shenanigans of one of Shakespeare’s ‘comedy’ plays hysteria-inducing (even though the language, again, differs markedly from recognisable English) but, even if The Arts is where you’re at, I bet you don’t often feel compelled to commit your thoughts on, let’s say the ballet, to YouTube, in the same visceral way as that over wrought young girl re: her boy band. But you probably could get worked up enough re: that next super hero movie, or that upcoming effects laden game, or the output of your favourite popular singer/s.
Yes, the Playblast’s decision to discuss all things culturally popular was the way to go, but this week I’ve become sidetracked yet again, this time by the FLU.
Since last Monday I’ve been languishing in the depths of Influenza. The man of the household is also sick, but in contrast to the Popular Culture stereotype, the woman here is suffering from ‘man flu.’ As a snivelling hypochondriac I’m always suffering from some kind of ‘man flu’ (if that’s what Popular Culture means by ‘minor ailment elevated to emergency status’.) As always I consulted Dr Google, who passed me on to the NHS website where I completed a questionnaire to determine the nature of my symptoms.
It began by suggesting that if I was completing this questionnaire on behalf of someone else, and the said someone else was lying comatose on the floor, then I should perhaps re-think the questionnaire side of things and dial 999 instead (I kid you not.)
‘What was my worst ongoing symptom?’ As ‘existential fear of death’ did not appear on the list, I went with headache, runny nose and fever in descending order of worstness. (In a side note to the NHS here – I don’t think your questionnaire was anywhere near comprehensive enough. I couldn’t find these symptoms anywhere:-)
Do you feel you are fully submerged under water?
Are your ears stuffed with cotton wool?
Are your eyes streaming copiously?
Does your hair hurt?
Do you feel you are in danger of coughing up your liver?
Does everything taste like cardboard? (other than your breakfast cereal of course)
Are you weeping uncontrollably at the sad bits on The One Show?
After deliberating my symptoms, the NHS decided that I could take care of myself at home, insisting that I should not bother the doctor for antibiotics, as your average evil, nut-job virus laughs in the face of Penicillin. I was then directed to an interesting and related article which predicted the Apocalypse in roughly 20 years time. Apparently our current arsenal of antibiotics and anti-virals will be completely useless within the next 20 years, resulting in a Superflu (I sure hope I don’t have the Superflu) pandemic, killing half the world’s population.
You have been warned.