Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Beautiful Things That Make Us Happy


Music: Beauty by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

We Can All Put More Love Into the World


Music: Love is All Around Us by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

If Today Feels Sad...

Music: The Road to Where I Am Heading by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Just Listen to Your Heart


Music: Listen to My Heart by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Appreciate the Little Things in Life


Music: Beauty by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Here's An Idea...


 Music: A New Vision by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

If Adults Went To School Too...


Music: Not That Kind Of Retro by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

If Mermaids were Real...


Music: The Princess's Spirit by TaraElla. Note: the subtitles are automatically generated and incorrect.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Why Do People Like Taylor Swift? | TaraElla Culture

Taylor Swift's popularity proves that our culture can do better.

Welcome to TaraElla Report Culture, where I take a step back from the more political talk, and look at things from the wider cultural perspective.

Last time, I talked about the appeal of comedian Dave Chappelle. Today, I want to talk about a very different personality: singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

Why do people like Taylor Swift? I think it's because she represents the possibility of a more healthy, family friendly and meaningful culture. I mean, she is not without her controversies, but on some level, she at least represents the possibility of a better popular culture, unlike most celebrities out there. I guess that's why conservatives used to think that she was one of them, at least until 2018. (I also think that, the fact that she's not a conservative says more about contemporary conservatives than about her, but that's a whole other topic and not my focus here.)

My point is that, Taylor Swift's popularity proves that there is great demand for a different kind of popular culture. Of course, we can't rely on individual celebrities or personalities to fix our culture. Instead, we should look at things from a big picture perspective. If there is clear demand for a more healthy, family friendly and meaningful culture, why isn't it reflected in the supply of our cultural personalities, our music, our TV shows, our movies, and so on?

Could it be because our media landscape, including both traditional and social media, provide a distorted platform for our culture, causing the demand to not be effectively translated into supply? One of the ways this could happen is a media landscape that overly favors attention grabbing headlines, meaningless controversies, and viral forms of popularity. This would lead to a superficial, sensationalist, and generally low quality culture over time, whether that is what people actually want or not.

What I want is for us to be having these conversations more, and think more deeply about whether our media landscape and systems are serving us well or not.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Why Do People Like Dave Chappelle? | TaraElla Culture

The answer lies in cancel culture and social media.

Welcome to TaraElla Report Culture. Today, I want to take another look at someone I had previously talked about: comedian Dave Chappelle. I first talked about Chappelle last year, in the context of the controversy around his Netflix special The Closer. At the time, I said I wasn't a fan of Chappelle, but the issue was that some people were out to pit free speech and the LGBT community against each other. At the time, I said that 'I think, as a society, we have been overly focused on finding racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and so on in what people say. The problem is, this has not only not been effective in reducing discrimination and bigotry in society in general, it probably contributed to a substantial backlash towards the concept of social justice'. This observation is very relevant to what I want to say today.

To be honest, I am still not a fan of Chappelle. I still find his stuff not particularly funny. However, I want to leave his actual content aside, and focus on his popularity as a culture phenomenon. Even though I'm not a fan, I have to say that I kind of understand his appeal: people feel like there are many things they cannot say right now, and it is a breath of fresh air to hear something different, and a bit 'taboo'. In another cultural moment, there might not be a need for someone like Chappelle. But right now, we live in what many people would consider a stifling and conformist time, and Chappelle stands against this conformity in the minds of many people. This is also why the protests against him have only made him even more popular. I guess you can say that every popular figure on the cultural scene is popular because they fill a need in the cultural landscape. The need Chappelle is filling is the need to break free from the conformity.

I guess this means that we need to look at why our culture is so conformist, and how we can make it less conformist. Part of the conformity comes from the new obsession with language that is associated with the rise of postmodern critical theory, something that I have explored a lot in the past, and is not what I want to focus on today. However, the conformity is not just found in politics and social justice topics. It is everywhere, and is probably caused by social media and its popularity-driven algorithms. It is this hyper-focus on popularity, the constant need to say what other people want to hear, and the constant fear of offending people, that is causing this cautious conformity in everyone. Sometimes, I even imagine history will look back on the period we are in, and see it as a dark age of conformity, brought on by social media in its early, immature phase. Anyway, cancel culture is basically a product of social media. On social media, activated online mobs can actually cancel people who are not rich and famous, simply by disliking or downvoting them. When YouTube used to display dislikes, mobs would mass dislike a video with a point of view they didn't like. Similarly, on Reddit, where downvotes basically cancel upvotes, controversial opinions can be 'downvoted into oblivion' where they will never see the light of the day. Social media has bred cancel culture, and people are sick and tired of it. This is why Dave Chappelle, as someone who has successfully defied attempts to cancel him, is so popular.

Of course, one Dave Chappelle cannot put an end to cancel culture. Those supporting Chappelle to 'stop cancel culture' might be able to give themselves a win psychologically, but they aren't doing anything to stop, or even put a dent, in cancel culture, in real terms. To stop cancel culture, we have to change the internet and social media. We have to put pressure on the companies to end, or at least drastically change, the popularity-driven algorithms. Sadly, too many people have already put this in the 'too hard' basket. After all, it's much easier to voice your support for Dave Chappelle and others like him, than to actually face up to the source of the problem. But then, escapism is always easier than actually working to change things.