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//Why I like Pop Culture// Joanna Pawluskiewicz

Why I like Pop Culture Joanna Pawluskiewicz

I like pop culture. Really. Even though if you really want to know what is going on you need to prepare yourself for some hard work, devoting a lot of time to reading, watching, selecting and opening news websites flooded with endless layers of pop-up ads. You need to read magazines that are just unreadable because Helena Mniszek and Janusz L. Wisniewski lurk in every sentence and control every comma. You need to apply yourself to memorise all the fleeting names. Sometimes you need to hang tough and spend the whole night learning about the new career of your favourite childhood musician in order to see a completely new face of rap on a reality show. But I like it because it is amusing with its unintended humour. Because I like searching and not receiving, I like authenticity and shamelessness, I like determination and the moment when something becomes our common property. In some perverse way, I even appreciate this moment when I need to turn the TV on and see with my own eyes what others rage on about on the internet, even though I get really sad because Polish television has been taken over by a certain blonde guy from one cabaret and his sweater-loving friends. (They should be punished for their antics. Together with Szymon Majewski they should be put in front of a TV set to watch a Saturday Night Live marathon; they should be forced to look, like Alex DeLarge in Clockwork Orange).

And precisely because I like it and I follow it, I need to make a sad declaration: they killed Polish pop culture.

Who did? There are two main perpetrators:

  1. Pudelek.pl and everything it created. (And how successful it has been. A few years back, it was on its own, and now? It inspired a whole family of similar portals – kozaczek, lansik, plotek, gadulek, pomponik, koteczek. It sends shivers down my spine).
  2. The Polish television as such, all stations combined. (You may be surprised but I do not ascribe all the blame for the collapse of Polish culture to TVN. Although it does deserve to be punished for portraying the typical Polish citizen as a Warsaw heartbreaker living in a fancy suite sponsored from his teacher salary and taking lazy walks around city parks).


And what happened?

For several years now, all TV stations have been bombarding us with ‘stars’ that you just have to hate. True stars are distant and can do things that we are not able to do. Meanwhile, Polish society is bombarded with stars that are no different than ordinary people. You can see in their eyes how much they struggled to fit into that dress. Poor stars, common people stars. Stars caught on the street. Talentless stars; stars who cannot even speak properly, let alone act. Stars that are ugly, sloppy, stupid – and presented on the covers of magazines. And whenever they take a picture at a banquet, you can see a floodlight cable or another scotch-taped object. Or it is raining. My favourite photograph in the entire world was taken at a birthday party of one of our singers – Polish stars walking down a red carpet that is wrapped up in foil to protect it from the rain. It seems that even they are frightened with their sudden fame.

And the second culprit: gossip sites. They only write about stars because they hate them and despise them. They hate them and they teach people how to hate those ‘unexpected’ starlets with no interesting talents. In a way, they are right. There is nothing to love about them. But it cannot continue like this.

The nation is now unhappy. It has no one to love. They killed the stars that make pop culture function smoothly; they told us to hate our own idols. And it is not the end! By giving us thousands of idols to choose and pick from, they dismantled our hierarchy of stars. Sometimes they will discuss a sportsman as a sort of a consolation price, but it just does not count. Why would anyone want to read about a sportsman?

In a properly-functioning pop culture (i.e. for me in the US, there is no point in hiding it. But I am a total Americanophile, so if you want to, you may now sneer with indignation)  there is a whole host of websites that follow the adventures of ladies from New Jersey, New York heiresses and gentlemen who once used to star in popular TV series. But they always keep a balance between awe and hate.

Because there are real stars who do fantastic things. We just love watching TV shows that talk about previously-forbidden subjects; we love laughing and watching ingenious movies such as Portlandia, 30 Rock or The Comeback; we love crying, fully identifying with the protagonist of Curb Your Enthusiasm; we are jealous that someone is making Parks and Recreation and it is not us; we keep re-watching Seinfeld. And all of this is pop culture par excellence.

And this is why we should separate the culture of pop that respects genre rules and the intelligence of the audience, the self-mocking, self-aware and deceitful popular culture, from this ocean of Latino girls engaged to teenage idols, following its own, lively rhythm. Most probably, no fan of true pop culture would ever pay any attention to it anyway.

But in our country, pop culture gurus have turned the peripheral into the mainstream. And hence we have what we have. If you go to the cinema to watch a Polish comedy, you will not last seven minutes, unless of course you just love Polish actors. But who could love Polish actors if in one of the movies a certain popular actor pulls an engagement ring out of his butt?

So I blame you, television and Pudelek, for killing Polish pop culture. Why did you do this, why did you invite the peripheries to the centre, why did you choose to slit your own throat? Why don’t you learn anything, why don’t you watch and why do you let others do as you do?

We all know that jealousy and hatred are our national features. And you have provided us with such numbers (in close co-operation with talent shows) of people to hate and envy, that we are left with nothing else now. Only unidentifiable girls with eagle and wings tattoos and ever-pregnant actresses.


What we need to do:

  • ban talent shows;
  • fire the cabaret blonde guy and ban people from using the words ‘almost like’ in each supposedly funny sentence;
  • ban all those scary chants that we love Poland;
  • ban young Polish actresses–mothers from attending banquets;
  • and while at it, ban the words ‘Let’s welcome the person who caused all this commotion’.


The snake has already devoured itself. Polish Angelina got locked up in prison. Let this become a symbol of renaissance. Let us once again fall in love with true stars that have gone under cover.

And let us have pop culture again.

Joanna Pawluskiewicz (born 1975) – novelist, script writer. Author of novels Pani na domkach and Telenowela. Co-author of the New Urban Legends project and editor of books published within the project’s framework. One of the leaders of the Moma Film foundation.