Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?
12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.
“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.
11. You actively tithe by purchasing DVDs and show merchandise.
The tingle that runs down your spine when you see your favorite show featured in multiple merchandising formats beats any junkie’s adrenaline rush at the chance to get high. Action figures, no longer for the young, sit in their packages on your shelves to be admired. DVDs are bought in multiple sets: One for watching, one for preservation purposes. Of course you have the original release, the box set, and the commemorative release editions. You owe them this financial adoration and you are not ashamed of your love.
10. You are known for passionately seeking out fellow believers…
You’re at your friend’s house. While everyone else chats about their day, you casually pull out your phone for the latest news on your favorite character, show, or convention. Or just to check your preferred fan thread to see if someone responded to your most recent excellent observation. Before you know it, you’ve abandoned the people you’re with completely. Who cares? They’re nothing more than unaffiliated fools and one must have one’s social priorities.
9. …and aggressively arguing with your detractors.
Of course any religion is prone to denominational theology. The religion of Pop is no different. You, like every other adherent recognize that while interfaith gatherings exist at conventions around the globe, interdenominational spats are far too common among the faiths. While not everyone has the same interpretation of the text, or the same text for that matter, you aspire to seek out peaceful coexistence with your neighbors.
8. And if you want to be Jewish about it, you become a member …of the fan club.
It is one thing to tithe your appreciation through repeated purchases of merchandise. You feel that membership solidifies your place in the community. (And gives you an amazingly cool card to put in your wallet.) Membership also guarantees you a future leadership role should you choose to pursue that path. You are confident that your knowledge and devotion will be recognized and rewarded by the community that has become closer than friends. Now, they are your spiritual family.
7. Fan conventions are the equivalent of High Holy Days or Pilgrimages.
Fortunately, in the Religion of Pop there are a variety of ways to practice the faith. You may attend services on a weekly basis. You may attend mid-week services at any number of times of your choosing. You also may find times of refreshing and revival at conventions held throughout the year. During these conventions, you may re-commit yourself to the faith through tithing via merchandise to the religion and choosing to become a member of the denomination of your choice at the local, regional, or national level.
6. Ceremonial garb is required at formal events.
Mormons have white shirts and black ties. Your daily wear consists of a wardrobe of carefully selected, handcrafted logo tees. However vintage they may be, t-shirts are not appropriate for ceremonial occasions. In these instances, you recognize the importance of proper costume. Proper costume reflects devotion to detail and respect for the significance of the event at hand.
5. You begin to speak in holy tongues.
Your native language is fine for day to day communication, but to really be understood, you need to speak in the language of your gods. This is where membership comes in handy, as more than one fellow fan in your spiritual community will act as your teacher and mentor as you learn the language of the faith.
4. You apply permanent ceremonial markings to your body to honor your gods.
Ancient tribal members would tattoo themselves as a sign of affiliation, slavery, or resistance. The face, symbol or logo of your favorite character permanently adorns your body for all three historic reasons. Your devotion solidified, the world will forever know your slave-like devotion to your pop culture gods, and your defiant resistance to cultural demands to “cover up” or “grow up”.
3. Your rooms, apartments and homes become temples.
You’ve discovered that one poster just isn’t enough. Nor is one Funko POP! figurine. True devotion requires not just one full set of character figurines, but posters to match. And a display case for your DVDs, not to be confused with the display case for authenticated signed memorabalia. And commemorative fleece blankets for your furniture. And the coaster set. And the glasses and dishware. And don’t forget the toilet paper!
2. No life event is complete without the presence of your pop culture gods.
You’ve fallen in love. Wedding bells are ringing in your ears, but those David’s Bridal commercials just don’t speak to you. Say Yes to the Dress? more like “say yes to everyone else’s idea of a wedding”. Your marriage must be as deep, meaningful and everlasting as the faith that you and your partner share. After all, if it weren’t for the religion of Pop you’d never have met. You must honor your gods accordingly, not only by inviting them into your ceremony but by seeking their blessing and the blessing of your spiritual family.
1. Your children are expected to follow in your footsteps.
What good is your faith if you can’t pass it along to your children? You woke up at 3 a.m. realizing that if your babies didn’t carry on your traditions, there’d be no point, no immortal validation of your love and devotion to all things Pop. You’ve engaged them in the weekly, mid-weekly and semi-annual rituals, but you’ve found yourself wondering if they will they keep to the faith when they go away to college. Suddenly, you begin to have visions of them meeting significant others raised with different traditions, perhaps different faiths. Will your Pop gods come second to these pagan whores?