Why Pop Culture is important

As we know, a few months ago I was a finalist to be the new movie/TV guy for Triple J.

A part of the "selection criteria" to see if I could cut the mustard was a live phone interview on Triple J Breakfast with presenters Ben and Liam. I was told this would be my introduction to the nation and I would need to essentially prove why I should get the job. 

I was asked what was the best thing I had recently watched and without skipping a beat I told them it was Netflix's Master of None because it's all sorts of woke excellent. Ben and Liam hadn't watched it so, after getting mad at them on live radio because you know, how  dare I stand for such blasphemy, I  explained why I thought it was must see viewing for our generation. In particular, I highlighted the episode "Ladies and Gentlemen" where the show perfectly encapsulates the difference between men and women and how differently men and women occupy public spaces. 

Complete with voices as If I was the narrator I retold the scene which highlights the difference between how men walk alone on the street 

Compared to how women walk alone on the street. *clutching bag, being catcalled, being followed etc*

The scene is absolutely genius and, it's made even more powerful by the score - the men walk to Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" whilst the woman walks home to something sounding more akin to the Jaws theme.

In the next scene whilst discussing the differences between men and women this very important bomb is dropped:  


So, there I was at 7am on a Monday morning during a live radio interview trying to encapsulate the genius of Master of None whilst desperately trying to sound  smart and funny in order to get the gig (spoiler alert: I didn't). When I hung up the phone from the interview, I thought what I always thought after a live interview "I hope what I said made sense",

This morning, I woke up to a notification about a message in my Facebook Other messages folder. I don't generally check my "Other" social media message folders because as Master of None so, beautifully highlighted "if you're born with a vagina, then creepy dudes are just part of the deal".

I decided to click on the message. It was from a guy, lets call him Steve.

These are Steve's words: 

I just wanted to say that I heard you talking about Master Of None on JJJ a while back, and it has stuck with me. You are very intelligent and eloquent for someone your age (and my age, and any age!). But at the time I heard you singing Master Of None’s praises, my main thought was that I had enjoyed Atlanta more. Possibly in my stupid white head, shows starring a person of colour are in competition? I’d instead prefer to think that I simply didn’t connect with Master of None’s focus on dating.

Tonight I was walking home and had two experiences which brought it all to mind. Firstly, and I can’t really explain this, but I was waving a stick around pretending I was Harry Potter. At some point I was passing a parked car and realised there were people sitting in it, so I waved the stick at them. I didn’t say anything though because I was listening to (the) Carpenters and I felt like I was in a great, positive, mood. The car people were a young man (talking on a phone) and a young woman. She immediately looked at the door, and pushed the lock down. I had walked past before realising what had happened. Obviously I knew I was no threat to anyone, just a middle aged man walking up the street in a chilli shirt made by my awesome mum, listening to the Carpenters and pretending to be Harry Potter. Super casual. From her perspective though? A man pointing a stick could mean anything I guess.

Farther up the road I encountered four young guys walking into town, all aged no more than 22. They stopped me and asked for a cigarette. No luck. We chatted about football a bit (I can pretend to be interested in ANYTHING), and parted ways. As I was returning Karen Carpenter to my ears I heard one of them say “that cunt was alright”.

So, I have arrived home feeling like I own the world. This is how it is to be a man. You are 100% right to highlight Master Of None as must-see-TV, in particular episode 7.

That Master of None episode was really really good and I knew it, I just didn’t fully understand it at the time

Obviously, I read this message and I loved it. Yes, it was super flattering to the way I use my voice but, more than that this message spoke volumes to the power of pop culture and what can happen when you hold up a mirror to society and ask people to look at their reflection.

I have absolutely no doubt that Steve didn't intend harm when he walked home waving around a stick but, isn't it interesting how his perceptions of his action changed when he rooted them in that Master of None episode? I feel it's important to point out that I don't inherently think all men are evil and I don't live a life shrouded in constant debilitating fear but, as a woman walking home alone at night I do worry about what might happen. I am constantly trying to prepare and protect myself against the worst. Just like the woman in Steve's story who saw him and locked the door because it's better to be safe than sorry.

For Steve, it might not lead to changed behaviour but, it had created reflective behaviour. and, for me I'm just really happy how at 7am on a Monday morning on live radio I threw a stone in the ocean and that stone created a ripple.