What is popular culture? How is it defined? It may be sensational, but it isn't always scholarly or literary. That's because of the human element. Sometimes ritual, aesthetic art, oral, and symbolic imagery comes across rather crassly. Today, however, some formal analysis, research, and critique/review is involved in the creative work. The execution from TV, movies, internet, and cell phones with imagery, defines it.
An affirmation of the art, media, advertising and writing that all allow for imagery by content and style, is needed. Usually this is accomplished by peers, blogs, and social attitudes. One example is a tech based media like films and photography. Images are scanned for not only digital information, but for sharing, selling or even manipulation. Popular culture defies prediction.
Contemporary cultural developments like the Haiti earthquake allow for a definite encounter with imagery and clearly becomes recognizable. It is translated in nature, pleasing or not. Sometimes the popularity becomes preponderant. Other times it becomes ritualistic - tattoos, body pierces, birth control, what-have-you. Then the symbolic imagery can evolve to anthropomorphic imagery. A gnarled tree root becomes an aged human face.
In The Art Spirit
There is a perspective or point of view that aids the execution of the particular imagery that becomes suitable to the majority. To many, it appears to be a media controlled social attitude. This may be how political agendas are made to; impress, dominate, or propagandize issues. A focus emerges and then is explored, examined, and exhibited.
I usually look to the younger crowds of talent for what's popular, but baby boomers 60 and older are really showing their focus. Look at Larry Platt of "Pants On the Ground" fame. Talk about defying prediction! He is a prime example of human imagery (researched and analyzed his work), and was formally critiqued, and the result was executed via the television media. The perspective created became suitable to the majority (popular). His focus emerged, was explored, examined and exhibited. Voila! A man's behavior was affirmed and enjoyed.
An upcoming integrated pattern learned from previous generations is a celebratory 24 hours called Valentine's Day. An ancient Roman God known as Cupid (god of erotic love) will overcome most other popular culture thoughts. Society will be bombarded with advertising for any products remotely related to sentimental affection. A saints day from 1668 has consistently transmitted an evolving tradition to the succeeding generations.