I frequently peruse Reddit, a popular online community in which users vote on content. It is made up of thousands of ‘subreddits’—subject-specific communities moderated by volunteers—where users can comment on content. Popular posts that are ‘upvoted’ on each subreddit make it to the site’s front page. According to the ‘About’ page, Reddit has around 150 million unique visitors each month from over 200 countries who visit over 7.5 billion pages.
In my November blog post, I made mentioned of a personal tradition:
Every October, I celebrate Horrorfest—31 horror movies from the first of October through Halloween night. Each year I encounter more and more people who commit to similar traditions, and we commiserate, swap recommendations, debate which film deserve to be included, and most importantly, spread the joy of horror and Horrorfest to those who have yet to adopt the tradition.
Last month, I happened to catch two similar plotlines on separate television shows that caught my attention. The episodes involved husbands lying to their wives about having vasectomies, and the wives subsequently becoming pregnant. The first was an episode of Gilmore Girls (Season 7, Episode 12: “To Whom It May Concern”) and the second was an episode of About a Boy (Season 2, Episode 1: “About a Vasectomy”).
A byproduct of studying race, gender, and popular culture is that my interaction with pop culture can rarely reach true levels of escapism or mindless consumption. I often find myself mentally tallying the number of women and people of color in films and television episodes, or noticing whitewashed advertisements while scrolling my news feed, or side-eying problematic images of women of color on product packaging as I run errands. Analyzing these images has become a hobby as much as the pop cultural consumption itself.
As a pop culturist who is interested in representations of race and gender in U.S. television and film, I feel it is my duty to analyze these images in all forms of media, no matter how bad or lacking in nuance the text is. I call this “hate-watching for research” and I’m usually very vocal with my friends and peers about recent awful films or TV shows I’ve forced myself to sit through for research. While I claim to dislike this aspect of my research, I secretly enjoy this guilty pleasure.