pop_art_kissFind this Q&A interesting? There’ll be more posted soon on our website (newfoundlandquarterly.ca).

What do you think of when you hear the term “Newfoundland and Labrador Popular Culture”? Is it important? If so, why? Who makes our popular culture and how is it shaped? Are we trend setters or followers?

In recent times I think actor/writer/producer [Allan Hawco] Jake Doyle has to be considered a pop culture trendsetter. He convinced CBC that this PI detective show [Republic of Doyle] would be a hit and in that hit showcased this province. It’s going into its fourth season and has been greenlighted for syndication in the States. Our provincial government even gave the show a pocket of funding because they saw the impact it was having. It really put us on a national stage in a way that we hadn’t been before. I remember when the first season aired; the day after the show everyone at the office was talking about it. You’d be left out of the conversation if you hadn’t watched it. My aunts who only turned on the TV to watch Coronation Street watched this show. Plus it was also around the time that Facebook was really taking off in this province in the middle-age demographic. So you couldn’t log into Facebook without some commentary on the show. It would be interesting to see if sales of the model car Jake drives increased when the show became a hit. Or if applications to the RNC went up. Or if downloads of the theme song went up. Allan Hawco and the Republic of Doyle have had more of an impact on our pop culture in recent times than anybody.
– 28, Business Owner

We are so heavily influenced by outside forces now that it’s more difficult than ever to have homegrown pop culture icons. With the internet, you watch shows and videos and listen to podcasts from around the world. We follow the trends that everyone else follows. That’s true though for wherever you are in the world now. There’s so much stuff produced, so many people putting themselves out there (wherever “there” is) that it all gets lost in the machine. One thing takes off for a while and a bunch of people follow that trend until something else gets hot and then everyone jumps on that wagon. There’s a sports expression that goes something like “if everyone is 7 feet tall, than nobody is 7 feet tall.” The best example I can think of where outside influences impact our lives comes [from] last year at a wedding. Two people from this province were getting married. At the reception one of the biggest hits of the night was Gangnam Style. Now if you are reading this and not familiar with that song some would say you’ve been living under a rock but I would say you should be proud of yourself. Anyway, the song is from Korean pop star [Psy]. Think about the fact that a Korean pop song was one of the big hits of an [NL] wedding reception. Not too long ago, the hit of that reception would have been when Uncle Joe broke out the accordion and Aunt Mary took out the fiddle. The question is: have we progressed or gone backwards?
– 30, Fulltime mother

Land and Sea has been a big influence in this province. I don’t think we could say it’s a trendsetter though, as their influence is more about highlighting great little stories or local successes. In other words, highlighting our popular culture. For years, Sunday afternoons included watching back to back episodes of Land and Sea and it didn’t matter if you saw it before or not. The show is about taking pride in our province, in our people, in each other. The show began in the late 60s. Lasting that long is unheard of for an episodic TV show. It was temporarily cancelled in the 1990s but fans protested and it went back on the air. It’s a significant part of our province and highlighting the best of us. However, now that I’m thinking about it, would [Simani’s] The Mummer’s Song be as big a part of Christmas as it is if it did not air on a Land and Sea episode? Maybe it’s not just about highlighting.
– 66, Retired

(image: pop_art_kiss@dryicons.com.)

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