by Deborah Rash, Minnesota Chapter
I got good and Future Ready last night by watching American Idol. I was working and tweeting while doing it, but in this case, the multitasking really was distracting from the main event, rather than the other way around.
I am not a fan of American Idol. I could take it or leave it, but most of the time I’m working and tweeting and just can’t pay enough attention. And now that Paula’s gone …
Whether fan or not, I suggest you check out the new judges on Idol this year. And watch a bit of the ingénue Oscar cohosts. Read “The Girl Who …” series. Pop over to TMZ.com every once in a while. And Google that Twitter trending topic you know nothing about.
Because sometimes these things matter, in two different equally important ways.
First, think about some of the trends that have been started by pop culture. Remember “The Rachel,” a haircut that is still popular sixteen years after Jennifer Aniston’s character in Friends got the look? Did you sip a cosmopolitan like the girls in Sex and the City (another late nineties screen-to-sales driver)? Working in marketing or any consumer driven industry these media effects do matter.
Now think about all of the forensic shows: NCIS, CSI, Bones etc. No police procedural is complete without a fingerprinting, particle-grabbing expert. Crime inflicted and mystery solved, packaged in a tight 60 minutes, minus the quarter hour or so of commercials. Why does that matter? Go ask the judge. Literally, ask a judge in a real courtroom and you’ll hear that the way cases are tidied up so quickly on these shows has changed the way that the average person, and thus the typical jury member thinks about how evidence should be presented. It’s been called the “CSI Effect.”
Similarly, if you watch the other ubiquitous type of TV drama, the one set in a hospital, you’ll get a very skewed perception of how medicine is practiced, not to mention how doctors comport themselves. Pop culture has changed the way we relate to health information in some of the same ways that going online to self-diagnose have.
Now you have to pay attention if you work in healthcare or a law firm. And if you sit in or near a cubicle, both Dilbert and The Office commentary might be overheard at the water cooler. So, office workers, listen up.
And if that isn’t enough of you who can glean information on marketing techniques, new product development, customer and client expectations or office politics, the rest of you can learn to love pop culture for a second reason. Think about the twenty-two-year-old new hires you are interacting with or the students you are teaching. The way people think and work bleeds into how they play and relax and sometimes knowing just enough to relate may be enough.
So, in preparation for the future, haircuts and bar drinks, maybe not so important. But jury deliberation and medical decisions and whatever is coming next? Might be.
And really, I’ve always loved that I have an excuse for watching Mad Men and reading People magazine. I’m working!
Deb Rash is a freelance consumer researcher and writer. Previously Deb was Knowledge Manager at Iconoculture and Carmichael Lynch, and had an advertising career at several agencies in Minneapolis. She is an active member of SLA, having served on the Annual Conference Advisory Council, multiple positions in the Advertising & Marketing Division and is immediate Past President of the Minnesota Chapter.