Mainstream media and popular culture can be viewed in many lights, but ultimately is one powerful vehicle for information. If a topic is constantly talked about through the media, you're eventually going to hear about it whether you want to or not. The media, especially now, is one of the most influential and powerful tools in creating, cultivating, and even distorting a person's reality. In 2015 there were many topics circulated about, whether in a positive or negative light, throughout the mainstream media that deserved to be discussed, understood, and retained.
1. Feminism - While the topic of feminism is anything but new, it is actually over 30 years old as far as the concept goes, in 2015 it was everywhere. From the powerful Like A Girl advertising campaign to women actresses discussing it at award shows to popular Magazines like Cosmopolitan referring to it, Feminism was in everyone's faces this year. What I want everyone to do, if they already haven't, is actually learn what the concept and term means. It isn't about "women taking over the world" or any of the asinine things men and other people have said. In short, feminism seeks to bridge the large biological sex gap that has been in place for many decades where men are in power and women are viewed as inferior beings, much like items rather than humans. Also, feminism is good for men because it argues that men can be raped and men can be physically abused in a society where cops would laugh and say, "You let your wife beat you up?" Yeah, the term is constantly used wrong and it pisses me off. Learn what it means and own it.
2. Race Relations - It is no secret that the Western World has struggled greatly with the subject of equality, especially with those of a darker skin than say olive. The resurgence of White Supremicist groups such as the Klu Klux Klan and even the platform that Donald Trump stands upon can show that while we like to think we are in a forward thinking society, we are actually still back in the 1960s with just more tolerance shown. There's plenty of "rich Black people" so we don't have race issues, right? Wrong. There are those that still foster the ignorant belief that the color of your skin denotes your worth. It is more noticeable when you look at places like Mississippi and Texas, but it exists all over the United States and even the world. Take a look at what the Dominican Republic was doing to its own citizens if they weren't "pure" enough or "too dark" in the skin. Tolerance is NOT acceptance and the up-and-coming generation of the world is responsible for fixing this because the older generations have proven they are okay with pushing things to the side. Race is defined differently when you move outside of the United States but it is always a way to separate the "them" from the "us." Hatred and ignorance lead to what we have today, a world where you are deemed a terrorist if you are of the Muslim faith and a racist if you are of pale skin. They are not mutually exclusive so wake up and LEARN something.
3. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) - Ah, the terrorist group that claims they are "following the Koran" and killing their own people, spreading terror, and making threats against multiple Western Nations is extremely important to understand. First and foremost, anyone who claims use religion as a means to wage war is not a true supporter of the religion and instead is twisting it to suit their own needs. Second, this was a group that was originally a part of al-Qaeda. Third, the only way to stop someone that holds no sanity and no attachment to life is to kill them. When you come across groups like this, think suicide bombers, the only way to handle the issue is to not back down and ultimately to wage war. Many people say war cannot bring about peace, but what they fail to realize is you cannot negotiate with the mentally unstable and insane. Think about ISIS as the Nazis, if the United States didn't enter World War II and go to war, what would have become of the world? There are times when there is nothing left to be done but go to war because you are left with no other option and ignoring it only makes the problem grow.
4. Police Brutality - This issue often gets lumped into the race relations issue because the only time it is given any stage presence in the media is when a "white" cop injures, abuses, or kills a "person of color." What the media doesn't show on a daily basis is the "white" on "white" police brutality issue or when a "person of color" abuses their rights as a cop against a "person of color." While there are times that racism is the root of police brutality, there are plenty of times where it is more of a cop abusing their power because they "are above the law." This isn't a new concept by any means. Do you know how many times I've been stopped by a cop because he wanted my number? I did NOTHING worthy of being pulled over but he wanted to ask for my number so he did. That's abuse of power, people. Where are the stories on that? Oh, I forgot, since I'm pale and can "pass for white" no one would care about that. I also forgot that since the cop never hit me, the story isn't worth it. This perception is everything and can you imagine how hard it is to be a good cop when you have to constantly think about whether or not people are going to try and hang you? I have plenty of "white" cop friends that battle that fear every freaking day. How can you expect someone to do their job right if you instantly want to label them as a racist? Separate each situation and think things through. Police brutality and racist beliefs are not mutually exclusive.
5. Transgender People - I would like to say that I don't like this term because a person is changing their biological sex and not their gender, a way of acting and thinking. Anyway, this was a big topic discussed through the media mostly because of Bruce Jenner publicly becoming Caitlin Jenner. Why is this important? Simple, accept people for who they are. Was he biologically a male but wanted to be a female? Awesome, that's great for him that he had the courage to make the change. Fear of the unknown and jealousy is what usually leads to bullying and bullying doesn't go away with age, it just changes. If someone is comfortable enough to openly tell you they are a transgendered person, don't throw that trust in the trash by become a jerk. They are still the same person you were friends with or whatever. Accept someone for who they are because at the end of the day everyone just wants to be accepted.
6. Positive Body Image - The beauty standards for centuries have been all over the grid simply because society itself changed with evolution and technology. Currently, the media tells you if you don't look like a Victoria Secret model you're not worthy of love and ugly. Whitney Thor and brands such as Aerie by American Eagle and many others have decided to really speak out against what society beats into women's heads. Not everyone is made the same and at the end of the day, your health and personal feelings are most important. Are you ten pounds or five kilograms overweight? That's fine as long as you are happy with yourself and still living a healthy lifestyle because no one has the same body type. My healthy weight and shape is going to be different than yours and so on. Society is a mess so why listen to them that you have to be super skinny to be beautiful?
7. Beauty Perception - Everyone from beauty bloggers to models and actresses discussed at some point that people are beautiful in different ways and even went as far as to take photos without being all "beautiful" with their makeup done to bring this point home. Beauty is all about perception. I can find someone absolutely breathtaking while you'll find them average and so on. Skin tone, eye color, hair color, and hair texture do not make you beautiful or not. Wearing makeup or not wearing makeup doesn't make you beautiful. There are plenty of people who make their face using makeup which is a reflection of how society has placed "perfection" at the highest level of importance, forcing females to feel the pressure to meet it. This happens to men, as well. Let's take Chris Pratt as an example. Do you recall what he looked like before 2014? He was on the chubbier side, cute, but not as fit and lean as he is now. He felt pressured by the industry and society to change in order to land better roles. Women have to be beautiful with makeup, nice chest, slim waist, and a nice butt while men have to also be physically appealing with washboard abs, muscled arms, and so on. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.