In an attempt to explore what’s currently hip ‘n’ happening with young folks, I conducted a couple of interviews this week. Jill (pseudonym) is a 17-year-old music-loving female about to complete her final year of schooling. Jack (also a pseudonym… could you guess?) is a 14-year-old sports-and-video-game loving male, almost finished Year 9. I thought it might be interesting to compare two different perspectives.Due to the number of questions and the length of the interview responses, this is the FINAL post (in a series of four) that report on these interviews.
In this fourth and final segment, we explore the impact that characters and personalities in popular culture have on young people as well as the evolution of popular culture and communications – past, present and future.
Who are your role models?
Jack: I’d like to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s awesome. He’s like a really good actor and he doesn’t just act, he became a governor or something as well and he does stuff outside of that as well. He’s like one of the most professional body builders. Also P, my uncle, P’s just awesome and because I’m related to him. He’s just fun to be around.
Jill: I really admire musicians like Jordan Sparks, Hilary Duff, Kate Miller-Heidke, Jessica Mauboy, because they’re all singers and some of them do acting too.
How do you find out about people you’re interested in?
Jack: Well I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator. I do Google searches for him and I found some pictures of him.
Jill: I watch them in movies or listen to their songs. If I want to know more I can just Google them. I first saw Hilary Duff in a TV show, Lizzie McGuire. I loved that show so much.
Do you think characters in popular media influence young people?
Jack: Some people, yeah. Some people may not like their own personality and they may just want to be someone else. Some famous sports players are not good role models for young people. But when you get old enough you realise what’s OK or not cool behaviour. Some adults don’t know …or they don’t care. That’s not good.
Jill: Yes. They’re role models so people try to copy them. They look up to them and want to be like them so they’ll do things they do. Some of the music videos aren’t really suitable for young girls but they don’t realise what they’re doing when they copy the moves.
How do you feel about this?
Jack: Annoyed. I like the original people who did it first and people who are copycats just annoy me.
Jill: In a way it can be good – it gives people something to aspire to. But if it gets out of hand it can be bad. Like if they’re so focused on trying to be someone else that they’re clearly not, they forget who they really are. Also you can have distorted views of how a famous person is in reality, like they must go out every night ‘cos they’re a celebrity but you don’t really know what their life is like.
How has popular culture generally changed since your parents were your age?
Jack: It’s got more advanced. The music has gotten more busy – more things going on at the same time. We have computers now that can make lots of different sounds so you don’t need real instruments as much. Movie effects are more advanced too ‘cos computers do the editing and they don’t have to do the effects by hand. Some of the effects that would have been amazing back then just look silly now. I think there must be more choice of movies now ‘cos they don’t take as long to make, like cartoons made in 3D. They don’t have to draw and colour every frame by hand now. Clothing is pretty much the same. Games have improved a lot though. Even upgrades like since the original Game Boy, now you plug into the TV and so it’s bigger and you can actually use the online world and talk to people these days.
Jill: A lot of the movies and TV shows are more trashy today. They don’t have great scripts, ideas or characters but they just want to make money. There’s a lot more trashy cheap shows. It’s more acceptable now to show more detail in some scenes that wouldn’t have been allowed back then. I think it’s quicker and easier and cheaper to make movies and TV shows today so more people are doing it and the overall quality is less even though things like special effects are more advanced. Books are much the same these days though. My Mum read Nancy Drew when she was young and I did too. Twilight brought back the vampire stories like Buffy. There’s so many more ways of communicating now – online.
How do you see popular culture changing in the future?
Jack: I think it will just keep upgrading. Like now except better, faster and stuff. I’d like to time travel but – you mean what’s actually possible? I can’t imagine anything that I‘d really want more.
Jill: Well I would like to see a little chip inserted in your ear so you could send messages to your friends straight from your thoughts, without having to talk out loud or press buttons. They’ll probably have newer smartphones. They’ll probably look way better, more slim like a credit card, with much better cameras and stuff. It’d be good to just have wireless internet everywhere you went that you could just tap into automatically without paying. That’s what I’d like to see.
This final segment of the “Popular Culture Spotlight” brought some interesting views to light about the quality of popular media today and the role of computer technologies in media production. Young people’s identification with popular characters and media personalities as role models, and their ready access to information via the internet is also mentioned. Another reason to make critical literacy and internet search strategies an integral part of literacy programs in schools.
Featured Image: “Roman column” [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] by Camelia TWU on Flickr