Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch has a theory about the balkanization of pop culture that I think is spot-on. I couldn’t find the article discussing it (Lord knows I tried last night), but basically, it goes something like this: there’s no one dominant pop culture anymore, it’s been demassified, to borrow another societal critic’s favorite word. If you take the average movie’s domestic box office return, a $100,000,000 gross sounds impressive–until you realize that tickets average $10 a pop, which means that ten million people saw the movie. And 285 million Americans skipped it.
Case in point: The Da Vinci Code’s weekend take: $77,073,388 means that 7.7 million people saw the movie on its opening weekend. But, according to James Maguire in his new book, Impresario, 60 million people tuned in to watch Elvis’ debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. And that was in an era when the population was about 125 million less than it is today.
Which is why Mr. Nixon–er, Mojo Nixon that is–was right about Elvis.