Influence vs indentification

I am a really big fan of culture. I'm a really big fan of the stuff that people make to explain things to each other, to move each other, to make people laugh, to express things they cannot otherwise convey, to bring a little bit of joy and enlightenment to everyday life. People have been doing that since people began, and I think that's awesome.

However, there's a question which has nagged away for years in the back of my mind. Am I who am I because of the culture I have consumed, or have I chosen to consume certain culture because of who I am? On a basic level, I'm fairly sure it's the former; I know that I have been shaped by the music I've listened to, and the movies and television shows I have loved. But when I consider the question more complexly, it's also true that I am capable of consuming culture that I don't like, and which doesn't appeal to me, so I obviously have some agency in the situation. I am not just a passive sponge that absorbs everything that passes onto it. 

Therefore, to what extent are we influenced by, and to what extent do we identify with, the culture that surrounds us?

I know that I make certain decisions based on the type of person I'd like to be. For example, I recently got a fringe cut back in because I like being the kind of person who has  a fringe and glasses. Equally, I know that having a fringe and glasses doesn't make you any particular kind of person at all but I never said these decisions are logical.

At the same time, I can think of very, very few occasions where I have spent time and energy on doing, watching or listening to something I didn't like, just because it was 'cool', or fitted in with my perception of myself. Some of my deepest cultural relationships (Taylor Swift, Friday Night Lights etc) are things that I have sort of come to on my own. Of course someone else brought them into my consciousness, but I made the decision to listen/watch more and I made that decision not because I wanted to impress the person who introduced me to them (shout out to my brother!) but because I really, really liked them. 

I guess the question is, would I have liked My Chemical Romance whoever I met, and whoever I might have been surrounded by, or is it because Laura played me 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' when I was 16 and I never looked back?

Or a more meaningful question, perhaps, would be: do I often like movies and songs and novels which invite people to imagine the world complexly because I already like to imagine the world complexly, or do I like to imagine the world complexly because of the culture I have previously enjoyed?

I think it's a bit of both.

[Side note: I know that Taylor Swift doesn't particularly invite you to imagine the world complexly, I just love her to bits, and that's okay. Just enjoy what you enjoy, and embrace it, y'know.]

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