Feb. 25th, 2017

osprey_archer: (books)
The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular Culture is about the way that various pop culture phenomenon - sports, beauty standards, TV - have become vehicles for meaning and purpose in our lives as more traditional religious guidelines have waved in importance.

This sounds like it might make a really interesting book, but in actual fact it's soooo boring. It's incredibly repetitive: the authors are clearly deeply concerned that we the readers may not buy that one could fruitfully apply the framework of religious studies to football fandom or rigorous adherence to beauty standards/strict quasi-religious health food crazes (paleo, anyone?), but you know, I was just willing to take that as a given.

And if I wasn't, I wouldn't have been convinced by mere repetition of the assertion that this framework is totally a useful way to study pop culture, without much in the way of concrete evidence to back it up. Surely a book about pop culture ought to quote pop cultural sources at least as much as it quotes Foucault?

The authors also commit themselves to taking a non-judgmental stance on all this, which sounds good in the abstract but is, as a reading experience, also super boring. I don't demand that they should have gone all fire and brimstone about it; it just seems to me that buildings one's life on the foundation stone of fulfilling modern beauty standards, for instance, is such a bad idea that it's hard to write about it fairly without pointing out, well, what a bad idea it is, because unless you are Tilda Swinton (and therefore possibly a vampire) it's going to bite you in the ass as you age and your everything begins to sag.

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