popular culture and “making do”

In fashion class last week, we discussed Giske’s definition of popular culture. Briefly, he stated that popular culture is “the art of making do with what’s available” (15). Using an example from digital culture class, a student mentioned studying Taylor Swift fan sites, and this is a great example of popular culture. Taylor Swift is not popular culture–she’s, her brand, is a commodity. She is a commodity and as such embodies “an ideology made material” (14). The fan sites, however, are “making do” with what’s available–they are the popular culture. The things available include: TS and various digital platforms that allow the creation of interactive fan sites.

This was a new way, for me, to think about popular culture and I like it because it forces us to consider how people make culture out of what’s available–fashion cultures, digital cultures, etc. As digital media encroaches on more and more aspects of life, we’ll consider digital tools (devices, platforms, etc) as commodities. Sticking with Giske, we’ll need to think about the ideologies embedded within digital commodities. What we do with such commodities, how we use them or “make do” is culture. I’d like us all to think about the ideologies embedded in popular culture–what are the ideologies of ripped jeans (as Fiske explains), or of a weird twitter account?

Of course, commodity producers try to co-opt the production of popular culture, they see what’s being made and turn popular culture into new commodities.

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