I love movies—I always have. However up until recently, I couldn’t put my finger on what kind of films I specifically liked. However when I came across A24, I started diving into the depths of this beautiful ocean of indie-films. While of course I still enjoy mainstream films, A24 films bring some extra beauty into my mundane life. Using the terms “indie-film” and “popular culture” might not make sense at first, however the two are more correlated than you would think.
Generally speaking, films are normally seen as popular culture with some debatable crossover with “high-culture”. With that being said, the term “popular culture” is a bit of a blur according to Storey, with no definition being set in stone. Note that generally speaking, Williams defines culture to mean either a particular way of life (lived cultures) or signifying practices (texts).
However, Storey also brings forth a few possible definitions of popular culture including:
- Culture which is liked or appreciated by the masses
- What is left over after defining “high culture”
- Commercialised culture which is often manipulative
- Something which isn’t forced upon “the people” by those above, but is rather something which shows “authentic culture” of “the people”
While there is no objective definition of the term, I believe that what Williams and Storey have explained greatly describes film as a whole.
The reason I chose to specifically address A24 as an example of popular culture which I consume is due to the films’ popular yet consistent nature. A24 have produced and distributed films which are statistically and critically ‘popular’. Despite the growing success, A24 have continued to produce films at a low budget, giving their cast and film-makers the freedom to create something unique and ambitious. They’ve maintained their indie roots despite significant opportunities to grow larger and larger into the mainstream.
Additionally, A24 being an “indie” company brings forth a few questions about popular culture. By definition, indie refers to something independent—separate from major companies (and often mainstream and popular media). A24 does something different though. They often produce and distribute films which—statistically speaking—are popular. Some of their films include Lady Bird, Moonlight, Hereditary, Midsommar, The Witch, The Lighthouse, Good Time, Uncut Gems, and Room.
As you can see, A24 doesn’t necessarily fit into the normal definition of an indie film company despite being categorised as such. In fact, a significant number of A24 films have appealed to the masses and are not considered “high culture”, with all of their films showing authentic culture of the people. In fact, that last aspect is one reason why they are so well loved—they tell very real, yet diverse, human stories.
Perhaps I missed the point of this exercise, but I simply want to bring enforce Storey’s idea that popular culture is not a strict square, but rather it’s a blurry line which can be broken and moulded and moved constantly.