As the Supreme Court listens to oral arguments about DOMA and Prop 8, not only are they being pressured in Washington but they’re also pinned underneath the watchful gaze and influence of popular culture. The latter is more than enough to make or break the SCOTUS in future rulings.
The now infamous Human Rights Campaign’s advocacy for same-sex marriage took the social media world by storm through the use of a graphic — a blazing red complimented by a light pink equal sign. Simple, yes, but a brilliant mix of politics and pop culture melding into one powerful, cohesive image. A similar meme that achieved the same level of permanence was that of the Stop Kony 2012 campaign founded by Invisible Children Inc. The aforementioned are fascinating examples of how pop culture isn't limited to Entertainment Weekly or the outrageous splash of any supermarket’s tabloid stand.—
The mass media’s love/hate affair with pop culture took root in the global West during early 19th century, with it spreading in the 20th and going viral worldwide in the 21st. It rose from the depths of lower classes that were not bred to consume the fine tastes of “high culture,” that is, the array of ideology and attitudes of the educated and affluent. Considering that the word “culture” itself it difficult to succinctly define, it’s no wonder that John Storey came up with six in his book, Cultural Theory and Pop Culture. In his work, Storey also addresses instances where pop culture made a transition into high culture, citing the works of Shakespeare and Dickens as examples. Politics too, can be aligned with the same boundaries as these works of English literature — constructed, broken down, reconstructed and made acceptable on a wider scale than ever.
Pop culture has rightfully made a place for itself in politics — an appropriate one at that. A jarring concept when it’s much easier to scorn the likes of glamorous celebrities or movies away from the arena of hard-pressed debate and stiff suits of Washington. Yet, the GOP is getting criticism for being unable to close their gaping pop culture gap. It’s certainly one that helped out Barack Obama during both of his presidential runs. In the end, the phenomena isn't new — Ronald Regan goes down in history as our first and only president who was a Hollywood heartthrob before sweeping up the Oval Office. In between him and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a multitude of individuals who’ve dared to tease and dance the threshold. Even Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) had a cameo on the show 24. Let’s not even get started on the Obama family's friendship with the Carters. The permanence of what’s mainstream, of what is comprehensible to all classes of people of a government made to rule in the interests of said people is undeniable.
A valid framing of the for-or-against argument pulling the nation under currently can be reshaped. Do you want to be on the wrong side of history?
Do you want to be on the wrong side of pop culture?
That will be a question that will weight heavily in the collective consciousness of the SCOTUS as hearings continue this week. Because like it or not, the moral “war” against same-sex marriage is over and it’s here to stay.