Not about Harry Potter

In reading, “Harry Potter and the Functions of Popular Culture,” none of the thoughts I came away with were about Harry Potter.

I was more absorbed in the primary reason for popular culture that Kidd isolated — capitalism.

Today, my roommate (a composer and fellow musician), asked me for my opinion on an introduction for something he was working on.  I knew he had been working on the soundtrack for a video game, so I was guessing it was for a specific map or level.  The synth had the slightest distortion, the timpani sounded awesome, the strings came in perfectly — I really liked it.

In finding out that this particular introduction was for a ‘CD-only promotion’, I had to let him know what was wrong.

The synths took too long to build, the timpani didn’t come in soon enough, the stings weren’t catchy enough.  I told him, “If you’re trying to sell me something, you’ve got 8 seconds, and you really only sold me two notes.”

A couple minutes later, I said to him from my room, “It’s too bad we have to write music to sell it.”  He agreed.

Popular music, as a manifestation of pop culture, has certainly generated norms, established boundaries, created rituals, produced innovation, and even led the way for social change — all components of social cohesion, a “necessary and healthy element[s] [of] modern society.”  Right?

For arguments’ sake:

Pop culture — ‘the man’ in his desire for prosperity, in this case, has set a standard for music: we won’t listen to something if it doesn’t catch our attention in 8 seconds.  It limits us…

Things that have the potential to be art, like most ‘things’ pop culture, aren’t necessary or healthy for a role in social cohesion.  Social cohesion in art is conformity.  Art flourishes in non-conformity: diversity.

Diversity is also healthy and necessary for social health, is it not?


An aside:

The music of heavy metal music is not a threat to children, nor rap music as a threat to society, nor even the medium of the music video as a framework that justifies rape and other forms of sexual violence.  It is the content.

Is it even logical to compare Durkheim’s argument for crime as a necessary and healthy element of society because of its function of social cohesion with popular culture?  I think crime threatens society in a much different way than popular culture.


Article: Harry Potter and the Functions of Popular Culture, Dustin Kidd, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2007

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