12/29/2011 09:56 am ET | Updated Feb 28, 2012

3 Ways Pop Culture Is Influenced By The Recession

Whether you support Obama or not, it's evident that our economy isn't doing well. The recession is all too present around this time of year, especially among those who want to buy gifts for their loved ones, but simply can't afford it. However, this economy hasn't only affected our money situation. No, this has affected the very core of our beliefs, the beings that we blindly worship and aspire to be like. Here are a few examples of how the recession has affected... our celebrity and pop culture.

1. Female TV stars become more "quirky" and "likeable"

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the slew of shows that came out this fall, among which one can find shows like Whitney, New Girl, and 2 Broke Girls. I'm lumping these all together because they all relate to my point in the same way. All of these shows center around a girl (or two), and all of these girls are odd and fun-loving and nice and adorably quirky. And, while it's true that Whitney Cummings runs both Whitney and 2 Broke Girls, one would at least expect her to not make both of the stars like that. And even though most of these shows and others like them have gotten mediocre at best reviews, they still persist. Why?

If you guessed that it's because of the economy, you'd be correct. You see, when recession hits, men realize that there is no reason to go after something unattainable. So expectations are lowered. This doesn't only deal with bad TV, but for life in general. When things are tough, it's healthier and more productive to set smaller goals. This is a natural human response, mostly subconscious, and nothing is wrong with it. This response however is exploited by the TV industry. They give us shows like Whitney that star women who aren't unattainable. These women are still desirable, but they have kinks, they have quirks, and none of them are too wealthy for us. That is the primal, subconscious force that pulls me to watch New Girl every week. The worst part? I enjoy it.

2. Justin Bieber

Some of you hate him; others think he's annoying, others still think that he's a girl. However, the Biebs is the result of a desperate music business trying to keep its head above the waves. Everyone lost money when the market crashed, including the bigwig producers who manufacture what's shoved into your ears every day. So producers decided to recreate arguably the most successful gimmick formula in music history: a cute kid with a nice, high-pitched voice. You had your Tony DeFrancos, your Michael Jacksons, and your Taylor Hansons in every label, and, even if they were only one-hit wonders, they made a lot of money off of that one hit.

So Braun went searching, and found this 13-year-old gem: Justin Bieber.

Isn't it ironic that America's economy may have indirectly led to the rise of a pop star from Canada that most Americans only sarcastically listen to?

3. Superhero movies and vampire movies go through the roof

So far, I've talked about TV, and music. What about movies? Well, there are many things I could address here, but I've made a lot of leaps earlier in the article, so I'll go with the obvious ones. This year, we got so many superhero movies that I thought I would explode the next time I saw someone with an insignia on their chest.

But it all makes sense when you think of it in economic terms. We all want some superhero to just come along and fix everything. That doesn't happen in the real world, so we turn to the movies, and they give that to us. In addition, superhero movies have become more realistic lately (thought that doesn't make them any closer to being real), almost as if to say "This COULD happen!" Unfortunately, every studio wants to be the hero, so we ended up with 14 superhero movies in two years.

While superhero movies represent the optimistic side of this recession, vampire movies represent the pessimistic side. While the vampire movie industry is much more homogeneous than the most recent vampire surge back in the early 90's with 1992's Dracula, it's still been booming lately, mainly due to the success of Twilight. And why do movies like Dracula and Twilight become so popular in bad economies? Dracula also released with major commercial success during a recession. We subconsciously empathize with the victims, because we're getting our life sucked out by well-dressed, pale men too! Even though Edward Cullen has become some sort of bizarre sex symbol, he's still at the core, a vampire. Someone who cannot survive without leeching you of everything that makes you human.


Now, I'm only 16. I don't have a job; I don't need to worry about supporting my family alone. But the economy affects so much more than income. So the next time you watch Glee or listen to the new 50 Cent album, ask yourself: "How relevant is this in this economy?"

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated that Bieber left RBMG to sign with Island Records. In fact, RBMG still retains 50 percent ownership of Bieber's music and they have a joint venture with Island to produce Justin's music. The article also suggested that Braun was losing money because of RBMG in 2008 when he discovered Bieber, when in fact RBMG was not created until after Braun had been managing Bieber for a year and a half.

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