This I Believe

Pooja - Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Leaning on Hollywood’s Back

It’s easy for critics to trash the Hollywood revering society that we live in, a society that is plagued by commercialism, consumption, and superficiality, and where people often write pop culture off as a “childish” obsession. However, I believe in pop culture as a means to find shelter from the problems in life that can’t be solved by loving people.

When I was thirteen years old, I heard my mother’s high pitched shriek fill our house that was packed full with our family friends during our annual barbecue. I assumed that my careless brother had dropped our precious family bowl or had broken another one of our plates, again. But I was wrong-she had been shot. While my parents were at the hospital, the Chadds Ford Police Department examined our beautiful living room in their dirty black boots, while I sat in my room playing my favorite Dave Matthews Band song. I listened to the radio station where the DJ was screaming about one dollar “you call its” from a noisy nightclub, followed by commercials for the back to school deals at Macy’s. I fell asleep for a few minutes, soothed by the beat of Justin Timberlake and Jason Mraz. When I came downstairs, I heard my mother’s friend ask the police officers if they had ever seen CSI, and if the show was really accurate. The officers laughed.

While the news stations sat outside of our house surrounded by yellow tape, my father was filmed in his Ralph Lauren pajamas begging people to leave us alone. I spent that day at my friend’s house watching “Just Married”, laughing tirelessly at Ashton Kutcher and his Star Wars-themed fantasy wedding. At night, I sat awake, praying that things would go back to normal, but never believing that our family would be the same again. I wondered if we would still go to Fourth of July picnics, if we would put up the Christmas tree, or if we’d ever be able to watch an Eagles game with the same vigor and passion that we had illustrated in the past. Throughout my prayers, the radio and television stayed on, advertising new cell phones and video games, with pictures of cheerful teenagers in bright clothing, laughing.

I believe that being surrounded by advertisements, generic music, and clichéd movies provide a universal ground in which one can find comfort. While my parents supported one another throughout the harrowing experience, I was supported not only by my family, but by the reminder that the world that I always believed in before, still existed. So now, four years later, I am still the same girl who idolized bubblegum pop and hot fashion trends, but with the newfound appreciation for the culture that we so often criticize.