I want to gag when I hear someone say "I don't even have a TV." It comes across as a boast; as a way to seem more refined than the low culture mob. There are lesser versions of this you may hear like Screw the Sith, there's a Swedish film opening up next door. I only watch Discovery or nature shows. I found out about "crunk" on an NPR segment. While these vocal asides are minor in comparison to egghead movements like "National TV Turn-Off Week," they come from the same place. One that dismisses what is popular, just because it is popular.
It is understandable in some ways. Nobody wants to be common. But criticism should be based on art's true merit, not for its level of popularity. In other words, rip on what sucks for its suckability and for no other reason. Accept entertainment from whence it comes. If something big budget and seemingly gauche strikes your fancy, don't feel bad for it or make excuses. If you liked Hitch for example, who cares?
Not everyone shares my view. There are many crusty critics who serve up obvious examples of poor taste like Dancing With the Stars or the music of Hilary Duff as examples to speak for the whole of pop culture. They assume all who watch "the idiot box" are catatonically allowing it to control them, letting its images wash over them like a fog. They disregard the options we have before us to choose programming that inspires, entertains and even educates us.
So I often feel the need to stand up for pop culture. Recently there were two books that helped with the cause.
In "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter" [Riverhead, 2005], author Stephen Johnson compares modern video games and TV shows to those of the 1970s, where people presumably sat brain dead with Three's Company and pong. Fast forward to now with sophisticated dramas like The Sopranos and The Shield, and hard-as-hell video games that involve us more deeply than ever before. Johnson's point is that today's pop culture requires a higher level of analytical thinking and thus is "good for you."