BS in Behensplaining

Take cues from everyday life | Keep audiences engaged | Create conversations. Repeat.

It is the mantra for digital marketing and content creation. Right from your favourite cute Filter Copy video to your sassy Dolly Singh video, everything follows this one rule. They create, you engage. But how many times do you sit back and stare at the workings of your social media, not just as a platform of self-expression, networking, and connectivity, but as your primary source of pop culture?

Tiktok is its own world of popular culture, while Instagram or YouTube has its own social and linguist registry. Not looking at these platforms as manifestations of popular culture stems from an ignorance of the functioning and history of popular culture since its birth. The only way I know how to explain an idea is through examples and applications, so here is the three most important questions on popular culture with the critique of Behensplaining.

Where does popular culture come from?

Every single man (I have sadly read mostly men’s views about popular culture) that has written on the subject keeps coming back to this question. Is it imposed by those in power? As we see the likes of in Behensplaining that reviews shows and movies from a distinctly female perspective and calls out sexism, however, never to forget they are powered by Netflix. Or is it by those from the margins? Like we have witnessed on Tiktok that has been a major space for queer creators to express themselves without policing.

It is imperative that we question this location of creation because popular culture took shape in an industrialized world where the middle class was fearing their voices being silences and lives endangered. When popular culture is shaped in the hands of the powerful, is it of the masses anymore? Even though Behensplaining claims to offer this unique perspective that questions cis male narratives, it is not meant to resound with the margins. It is to attract a specific audience that firstly, can afford a Netflix subscription if convinced by the reviews to watch the shows; and secondly, to please those who have questioned the presence of such stories on a giant platform of pop culture. *cough* Kabir Singh *cough*

What drives popular culture?

In the case of Behensplaining, is it this commodification of the female perspective through marketability that ensures its relevance? Or on the other hand, is it the authenticity of the voices of two women questioning patriarchal ideas that makes it popular? There is a need to never forget who controls these narratives. And in popular culture, narratives primarily stem from that which is marketable. With the commercialization of popular culture and the need for standardized, repetitive art, newer perspectives get lost every day or are carefully appropriated in order to avoid any dent on the profits. What drives popular culture has a complex and straightforward answer: it is what capitalism looks at as gainful.

What is, then, the purpose of popular culture?

I’ll narrow that question down to a rather important binary that we must pay attention to: is the purpose of popular culture indoctrination of the masses or is it resistance to those in power? While Behensplaining comes from the place of a historically silenced perspective of female criticism, the voice is still monitored and edited by a capitalist giant. There is a reason why these lines blur. It is not incidental that we have voices of dissent operating within the system of patriarchal capitalism. Popular culture was meant to be of the masses, their voice that rebelled against the ruling class who called them raw and uncivilized. But when Behensplaining calls you in to be part of a niche that gets its entertainment from a capitalist monster that considers ‘sleep’ its competitor, it serves the purpose of the ruling class. It operates within, speaks the language of, and perpetuates the ideas of the dominant class and caste.

And, so, I return to question the mantra:

Take cues from everyday life | Keep audiences engaged | Create conversations. Repeat.

Because what it really implies is: Take cues from capitalism to mimic the ideal life, keep audiences wanting for that dreamy life and therefore, engaged; create conversations in your favour to eliminate dissent. Repeat.

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Running pillar to post making sense of culture and conversations.

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Hannah Stephen

Hannah Stephen

Running pillar to post making sense of culture and conversations.

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