“We are all going to die.” – On Popular Culture that Ignores 40% of the Population

“We are all going to die.” – On Popular Culture that Ignores 40% of the Population January 24, 2018

Once upon a time there was a man in a beautiful Kingdom that was given to opining. He warned people about an evil ruler, King Noaccount. This man had no doubt King Noaccount was bad and had even less desire to normalize his weird behavior. As a result the man pounded every day on the evils of King Noaccount. “We are all going to die.” He said every time the King did anything.

Of course, people did not seem to die. The economy of the Kingdom boomed, even if it had nothing to do with the King’s policies. Everyone sensible could see that. Right?

Noaccount did many dreadful things, but the volume was the same from the man when he wrote on the dreadful, the merely yucky, and the pretty darn good. The bad news is that this was causing anybody not already going  to his street corner to stop listening. The good news for the man was that his opinion was widely shared by most of the creators of popular culture. There were no movies, music, and little television defending King Noaccount. In fact, almost all mainstream pop culture joined his cause.

And then the man had a worry: “Forty percent of the people in the Kingdom like King Noaccount. Why is there is so little mass media tailored to them?”

His friends comforted him by pointing to one crier that favored the King, “state media”, they cried. They talked about some other areas where the King was praised, but the man looked at all the awards given and saw only people who hated the King. Jesters all laughed at the King every day, muscians applied songs written before his rule against him, and epics were twisted into attacks on the ruler.

The man became worried. He noticed most of the very richest people in the Kingdom hated the King. His friends pointed to the minority of power brokers that liked him.

“Anyway,” said one bard, “isn’t it obvious that all his followers are evil?”

“What if,” the man thought, “the King is speaking for people who have more complicated opinions? Why doesn’t the priesthood, the moral arbiters of our culture, pick up on their desire for stories?”

Lo, the man was comforted that the old priesthood beclowned itself daily supporting the King, but that the self-evident hypocrisy of the new priesthood could be ignored. Why not?

“We are the sixty percent,” He thought, “everyone.”

Yet sometimes he saw the ratings and the box office . . . And recalled that forty percent is a great many people and that they were being totally demonized. He began to worry that his fellow opponents of the King were missing something. Maybe by attacking everything the King did, all the time, making everything about Noaccount, they were going to empower the King. Maybe they were forming an implacable minority that would cause trouble. But why worry? They were only:


That was a great many fellow subjects. How many did he know? Was he so sure of his own righteousness? Wasn’t there a risk that hitting the “apocalypse” note every day would fail?

He remembers his young friend, the boy who cried wolf. That had gone badly for the boy, the sheep, and the town. The wolf had done well. What if people decided that such universal, constant, apocalyptic talk was . . .  Crazy. What if King Noaccount survived, because nobody listened to the 40%?

The man decided not to worry. After all, his work was winning prizes. All popular culture was against Noaccount and he did not know anyone in the 40%. None of the sane, sensible, sixty percent would ever support Noaccount, because then they would not win awards either.

The man persisted and lived happily ever after.


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