There is an old SNL skit with Dana Carvey called “Choppin Broccoli”SNL link. (limited view of skit). It was actually voted as one of the 10 funniest Dana Carvey skits in SNL. In the scene, Carvey is a pretentious rock star. He plays the role of the impressionable, cool artist that seems to have a grand message hidden in his song. Carvey is playing his new song for some big-wig music executives. Instead of being a deep, inspiring song, it is clear that Carvey’s new song is nothing more than meaningless blabber in which he sings about chopping broccoli. In fact, Carvey plays the song while making the lyrics up as he goes. However, because of the rock star’s artistic image and dramatic, emotional delivery, the music executives listening to it eat this song up as the next big hit. The music executives sheepishly nod their heads in approval of this amazing artist’s ability to create an awe inspiring song even though they clearly don’t have a clue as to what Carvey is talking about. The music executives get over-whelmed by the aura and grandeur of the rock star and are unable to think clearly as to what the message of the rock star really is. In other words, the music executives become dumb in front of the rock star persona. But, as an audience member we stand outside of this scene so we can clearly identify the song for what it is – a silly yet funny song about chopping broccoli. The audience can do this because the audience has not been duped by the rock star’s image. Therefore, the audience can make a clear assessment that the song appears to be grand on the surface, but underneath, the song is just meaningless blabber.
Now, in the grand outlook in life I propose that the pop culture represents the rock star and we are either represented by the music executives that automatically nod their heads in approval to whatever the rock star spits out. Alternatively, we can be the unbiased audience member who learns to think critically and independently from outside influence. The pop culture’s influence is massive. It is everywhere we go. Thanks to technology today the message from the modern mass culture is all encompassing. The message of the pop culture can be summed up by the mantra of sex, money, power, and pleasure (either material pleasure or pleasure of the senses). According to the pop culture these four things need to be pursued with vigor. When they are pursued a person is supposed to reach the place of personal fulfillment and utopia. I’m getting to the point where I now call bluff on this message.
I was recently teaching a series on spiritual warfare in our modern culture. During my research in this series I discovered a few interesting facts. If the mantra of money, power, and pleasure works we should expect that people in the U.S. should be much happier than people in less developed countries. Obviously, people in this country have greater access to a better lifestyle where pleasure can be achieved than let’s say Mexico. According to a One World Nations Report, (http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/GNI_PPP_of_countries.htm) Mexico is still considered a developing 3rd world country. Mexico still has this classification because of the quality of life, poverty and lack of advancement of infrastructure and technology while improving is not as strong as countries like the U.S. Certainly, the quality of life is better in the U.S. than Mexico. Also, the U.S. has a more modern way of life where the pop culture is more influential. Nevertheless, Mexico has a better depression and suicide rate than the U.S. According to a study from WebMD, the depression rate in the U.S. is 19% while the depression rate in Mexico is 8%. Also, the suicide rate in the U.S. is 10% while the suicide rate in Mexico is 3%. In fact, across the board more developed countries have a higher depression and suicide rate than less developed countries. This struck me as interesting. People in the U.S. are more depressed and suicidal than people in Mexico. Why is that? Presumably, we’ve got more “stuff” here than there is in Mexico yet we are more depressed than Mexico. I propose it’s because the messaging of the pop culture of sensual and materialistic pleasure doesn’t work. If it worked developed countries that have all this “stuff” would be happier than less developed countries. But, we are not. Deep down we know this, and the proof of this fact is death. No sane person would surround themselves with their materialistic treasures and sensual pleasures to comfort them at the point of death. When people are at their death bed they drop all this “stuff” from the pop culture like its yesterdays old newspaper. At the point of death a person now clings to faith; not the messaging of the pop culture. It’s also interesting to note that church attendance in Mexico is far better than church attendance in the U.S. Hmmm. Studies also show that faith is much stronger in developing countries than it is in the U.S. Now it begins to make sense why these poorer countries are less depressed and less suicidal than we are. They are more into faith and less into the “things” of the pop culture than we are.
Sadly, because of our perception of the pop culture as a grandeur and emotional inspiring entity, we tend to sheepishly nod in approval of all it’s messages. However, when we put the message of the pop culture under a critical microscope we see it actually turns out to be useless distractions. As the evidence above shows the message of the pop culture really fails to bring a person ultimate happiness. While the pop culture can be amusing and funny, its message turns out to be nothing more than “choppin broccoli.”