Enough of the Stars

Western Culture
Western Culture

Poland now firmly rests in the ‘western’ part of Europe. Not geographically but culturally. One of the surest signs of this is the pop idol worship that has spread through Poland like the bubonic plague. I have my own theories about ‘east’ and ‘west’. One factor is the effect and legacy of the Roman Empire. Former Roman Empire lands, I believe, can be counted amongst ‘western’ countries. Another is those lands which were hit by the bubonic plague I also see as ‘western’. Poland never was part of the Roman dominion nor was it effected by the plague.

Dancing with Death
Dancing with Death

A new plague is spreading: pop culture; and Poland is well and truly being ravaged by this new disease. Icons of the Virgin Mary have been replaced by new icons, new idols that Poland’s millions worship. In this way Poland has become like any other ‘western’ country: the USA, UK, France, Germany or Spain. The ‘idols’ create hype just because of the fact that they are famous. Many are famous simply for being famous. This is the Paris Hilton phenomenon. Below is a list of my personal anti-favourites; those who have risen to the crest of this wave of pop-idolness:

Krzysztof Ibisz
Krzysztof Ibisz

Gosia Andrzejewicz
Gosia Andrzejewicz

Kuba Wojewódzki
Kuba Wojewódzki

Kasia Cichopek
Kasia Cichopek

Kinga Rusin
Kinga Rusin

18 thoughts on “Enough of the Stars

  1. I can’t resist putting in my pennyworth to your post, Raf, though I’m aware of the fact that the more Internet traffic we generate around pop idols, the more idolized they become. I’d say the idea of ‘famous for being famous’ is simply invented and pushed up by the media. Sad as it is, they so called ‘pop idols’ are simply cash cows for some media corporations. Each of the media faces you listed in your post is a product, first of all to buy, and consume (to read about, watch, follow, and imitate). Unfortunately, Poland is not an exception here. That’s the price we pay for being a part of a global system and western civilization. The question is very personal I think: is it the price you and I really need to pay?

    1. I think making the choice between one particular way of living and another is down to personal choice. We can either choose to watch TV, read the hype and gumf and accept it as part of our world or simply ‘switch off’.

      1. I completely agree with you. It’s merely a matter of our personal choice to choose between what is commonly referred to as “popular culture” and “high culture”. However, the question still remains to what extent various public institutions really help us to make the choice. Where goes the line between my personal space and privacy and, for example, annoying and manipulative ad campaigns (with faces I don’t want to look at) that strike me on almost every step of my life? But that’s the topic for another discussion. 🙂

      2. Schools, universities, or public media, just to mention a few of them. These institutions’ scope of actions should include culture eduction (with elements of pop culture as well). But what is most important, they should provide citizens with knowledge and tools that help them to recognize all aspects of culture. To make it simple – they should develop culture senstitivity and awareness among the people.
        I’m not saying they fulfill this mission right now, but such is their role.

  2. I agree. It is a shame that we are a victim of pop music too. However I would like to notice that US pop has been and is far better than Euro pseudo-stars. I’m saying it as a musician.
    Another observation. We are not condemned to pop music. Modern pop music as it requires no musical taste is being manufactured for masses. Masses are expecting a product for consumption so there is no space for real art. However, as a humanist I believe that humans poses inherent aesthetic sense and even on the pop market we do have aritsts like Michael Bubble, Gavin Degraw, Peter Cincotti, James Morrison, Jamie Foxx, Jenifer Hudson, Gentleman, and many more. Genuine artists, and very popular, however not for masses. To like this music it requires artistic sensitivity and thousands of hours spent on listening and developing your musical, artistic perception. In 60’s till 90’s people were more musically conscious. Culture was live and vivid. 21 st century is a barren age of music.


  3. Your choice of Polish hate-figures is a little odd; all of them ‘do’ something, acting at least. I’ve seen good notices for Rubin and even Ibisz when he was younger; while Wojewódzki has become a self-parody now, at the beginning of his trajectory (esp. on radio) he had a genuine willingness to be acerbic which is generally lacking in Polish media commentators.

    I haven’t yet seen a Polish Katie Price/Jordan figure; Doda, my bête noire, at least makes records, and not in the typical US/UK enervated pop/’urban’ mode, either. Polish popular culture doesn’t quite seem to have generated the entirely ‘famous for being famous’ celebrity which we have in our cultures. (Then again, I only turn on my TV on Sunday evenings to see my great unrequited love Marzena Slupkowska present the week’s weather forecast. ❤ So I may be missing something.)

    My problem with Polish popular culture is its utter unoriginality – 98% of everything I've seen and heard in this country since arriving in 1994 has obvious and unashamed roots in a Western model of some kind. But that's another rant… 😉

    1. My choice is nothing more or nothing less than that – my choice. Your point about lack of originality is SO true. I hear it also in the music and see it in the clothes. Sad, but true.

    2. But pretty much all of pop “culture” is unoriginal. Its the same all over the world, they all look the same, and act the same way. Only the language differs from country to country. And with modern media and technology it wont be getting any better.

      Everyone follows the same mould, attractive, semi-interesting (not really but they pretend to be) people, doing and wearing the same things. Its been like this for sometime, the McDonald’s model I call it. People respond to the familiar. I am not fond of pop culture, but many people buy into this as they want to be “hip.”

  4. Very little has happened,in a cultural sense, anywhere in the world, since the middle seventies. Perhaps because my youth was spent in the sixties and early seventies, I see that era as being more creative and somewhat innovative (especially musically) than the decades that followed. I remember my son complaining to me “Dad, you had all that great music when you were young, and what do we have? Michael Jackson”.

    There seems to have been a period over the last two generations where culture, art, architecture, and not just music, have been in ferment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. We simply have so many more choices; unfortunately the “average” person is too lazy or tired or busy to search out what makes his or her soul resonate with an unexplainable joy that I feel is the mark of good art. These things have to be searched out and found, but it is much easier to settle for the latest pap produced by the media machine. Technology, although it can spread useless kitsch and inanity like a virus, also gives those who CHOOSE to search for a satisfying entertainment experience, the means to find and explore that experience.

    Don’t be so damned hopeless! All it takes is a little effort, and a lot of education of those who also hunger for something a little better.

    1. Well K. Dudek, I agree with a lot of your post, unfortunately it misses the point altogether. The whole concept of POP culture is that its popular, one should not need to search it out. Its there right in your face. And what is popular right now, or for the past couple of decades, is shit. We are not talking about good art or music, or literature, or architecture, those we can find according to our tastes. We are talking about godawful pop music, television, art, “literature,” etc.

  5. Raf -there is now a star laid down in Krakow commemorating Michael Jackson whose seminal legacy to Krakow’s ancient city and cultural scene was to perform live in concert in Poland after his death: a metaphor for Jackson’s spectral presence as a waxy and encrusted figure who ,like the junk starchitecture being imposed on Austro-Habsburg Krakow, has been sujected to articial Facadism, chromium additions and meangless emblems and symbols.

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