PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
I am very pleased to share the second edition of Pop Culture Freaks. Writing a new edition gave me ample opportunities to respond to discussions that I have had with my readers, including the many students who have read the book as an assignment in their classes.
In popular culture, we are taught to have a fetish of the new. Whether it’s the latest release from a band, the newest update of an app, the opening week of a new movie, or this week’s episode of a new show, we as audiences are encouraged to always focus on the newest thing. At the request of my readers, I have conceded to the fetish of the new in this second edition of the book. Many of the major examples that provided the opening narratives of the chapters have been updated with more recent examples. Glee and Modern Family have been replaced with Dear White People and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. But I do make several references to popular culture from earlier decades because it is important to have a sense of the history of the entertainment industry and to understand how that history foregrounds the current landscape of commercial culture.
In addition to updating the major examples in the book, I have also updated the data wherever possible. For the fi rst edition of the book, published in 2014, I relied on primary and secondary data from the year 2010. For this second edition, the data is largely drawn from 2016. The new data is not much different from the old data. The patterns of racial exclusion and invisibility, the symbolic annihilation of women, the confinement of LGBTQIA folks to a pop culture closet, the dismissal of the working class, and the trope of isolation for characters with disabilities are consistent from the first edition to the second, with very little indication of progress. There is a great deal more open discussion of these issues in Hollywood at the moment, and that discourse is an important step, but we as concerned audiences need to be vigilant to ensure that discourse eventually becomes action and progress.
One place where progress happens is language. For this second edition of the book, I have made a few changes in the language that I use related to identity. As often as possible, I have tried to change the words “female” and “male” to “women” and “men,” because the latter pair of words places more emphasis on the personhood of the individual. “Male” and “female” are adjectives that function as scientific sex classifications that can be made to many different species, not just humans. I have changed the acronym LGBT to LGBTQIA , to highlight the wide array of queer identities. I continue to use the word “Hispanic” when referring to U.S. Census data, as this is the term that the Census uses, but I otherwise prefer the terms “Latino/a/x” (to refer to an unspecified individual) and Latinos to refer to a group of individuals. Readers may wonder how to pronounce Latino/a/x, so my advice is to simply choose one of the variants Latino, Latina, and Latinx (pronounced la-teen-ex) when speaking.
Finally, I have revised the language around disability to banish the word “disabled” from the text because it tends to diminish the personhood and multi-dimensionality of the individual person or character, in part because it can function as both an adjective and a passive tense verb. I want to remove the sense that disability is something imposed and focus instead on disability as a normal part of the wide-ranging experience of being human.
The first edition had a lengthy chapter on global perspectives on popular culture, with postcards from pop culture outposts around the world. I never felt comfort writing that chapter because it is really beyond my expertise. I have pared the chapter down to focus on how Harry Potter experiences the process of translation as it fi nds new audiences around the world. I leave it to readers and other scholars to find or create great analyses of pop culture in non-U.S. locations.
Finally, the closing chapter of the first edition — a meditation on the films The Matrix and Freaks — has been replaced as part of the shift away from dated examples. The new conclusion focuses on ways to maintain the sociological perspective on popular culture long after closing the covers of the book. I have placed a copy of the original conclusion essay on my website. My website can be visited for a wide range of resources for readers and teachers. Find me there and on Twitter!