Cultural studies

Perspective: You might learn a thing or two in a cultural studies course

Have you ever noticed that people tend to criticize things they don’t know or really don’t understand? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of hip hop, and pop culture in general. I actually teach a class called the Social Philosophy of Hip Hop. We are talking about both great artists and recordings, as well as its history, economy, politics and culture.

Recently, the Creative School at Ryerson University in Toronto announced a class on Drake and The Weeknd, two multi-platinum, multi-Grammy artists. Many comments on social media welcomed the idea. Others? Well… not so much. Some people laughed, what could you learn from this course? One of them said, “This university looks terrible. Another said it was a waste of time and money. My favorite asked, “What’s that called… Poor 101?”

In higher education, courses examine television shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad, music from Bob Dylan to Kendrick Lamar, and the gamut of film genres. These are cultural studies. These classes seem fun or trivial, but they challenge students to learn complex social, cultural, and critical theory and how popular culture and those who change it affect society.

Maybe if we were less willing to reject but seek to understand these things that we don’t know, then maybe we can fill in the gaps and respect each other a little more.

Like I tell my hip hop class students, you don’t have to like something or someone, but if someone can sell 10 million copies of anything, or earn 70 millions of Twitter followers, or reshaping popular culture, you should at least respect it.

I am Joseph Flynn and this is my point of view.