Pop Optics Forum: A Personally Transformative Piece of Pop Culture

Before getting into the post proper, I want to take a moment to lay out my “refresh” for Pop Optics in 2022.

When I first conceived of this series, it was to discuss how a particular piece of pop culture personally affected me or had significance in my development. A sort of auto-biographical critique. However, as I thought of new topics to write about, it reshaped into an examination of pop culture and what significance it had in our perception of our world (my Truman Show article being the best example of this). Then there were a few one-off things sprinkled in that felt more like padding out the count than anything else. And that’s fine, but I want to pull back on posting just for the sake of it.

I have had a tendency (okay, habit) to start projects and never finish them. I feel like Pop Optics is the first one I’ve dedicated good attention to to follow through on. That said, I do feel like I don’t have enough things to say about certain topics, or there are topics that are interesting to me but I don’t think require a full-length write-up. So that’s why I’m going to refresh Pop Optics to allow for those excursions and deviations.

I’ve already set precedent with the soft introduction of DisenFranchisement, my examination of films within a franchise that compose their own arc. If that was a test-run for what I could do under the Pop Optics banner, I will consider that a success.

So, what else do I have in mind?

First and foremost, I am introducing a new subfeature that I am simply titling Pop Optics Forum. This will be a bi-monthly feature where I introduce a topic for an open discussion. These will be topics or themes that I can’t quite write at length about but want to engage in a discussion. If these prove to be worthwhile, I might increase the frequency of the posts.

Secondly, I will be shifting Pop Optics proper to a bi-monthly as well. This will hopefully make it easier for me to think deeply about topics as well as do additional research so that I’m not just writing anecdotally on certain things. Facts are like the veggies of the stew: they don’t hurt the flavor and they add to the texture. I won’t be moving up the cadence as I want to allow myself the necessary amount of time to write.

Finally, I will be resurrecting Scene Dissections, my old feature exploring and analyzing scenes from popular media. I will alternate these with Pop Optics articles as I intend to keep these two features separate and distinct.

Now, on with the first Forum discussion.

Popular media can be transformative. Sometimes, without us realizing it. We draw influence from so many things in our daily lives, and odds are good that the majority is media-based. It has to be, these days. We’re a tech-centric world with a variety of platforms that allow us to share and communicate ideas instantly that you have to pause and truly ponder “are we living in a simulated reality?”

Probably not, and just because we have increased the number of portals of connection and interactivity does not give any more credence to that thought experiment proving true. All it means is that we’ve managed to create more opportunities for us to be exposed to things that will make us stop and reflect in general.

But maybe it’s not that grand. Perhaps it’s more simple than that. It could just be that we had become exposed to something and it hit us in such a way, we had to think differently about the things we’ve been doing up to that point. Habits, routines, thoughts… challenged in an instant!

With this being the new year, this is also the time that many of us reflect on our lives and what we’d like to change or improve. It’s our chance to start anew, even if arbitrarily. I mean, if you’re waiting till the new year to make a change, aren’t you starting at a deficit based on how much time passed between when you decided to make the change and now? Either way, something proved to be the catalyst and that’s what today’s Pop Optics Forum wants to find out.

What pop media inspired you to make a change in your life?

It could be that Jurassic Park actually inspired you to get into paleontology. Or The Simpsons’ episode Lisa the Vegetarian also made you think about the ethics of eating animals or made you a Paul McCartney fan. 

Share those moments, what it was you reconsidered and what influenced you to do so.