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Lounge with Leona: Does Going Mainstream Mean Failure?

So that thing you love, the one thing you consider your safe place, is now going mainstream. Now what? Perhaps you will continue cheering for and supporting that underground band whose music you could only find on Soundcloud before, or the hipster movie you wouldn’t dare talk about in front of your friends because they wouldn’t have seen it anyways. Or, will you end up getting annoyed by the constant exposure it will receive, thereby beginning to dislike or even hate the thing you used to absolutely adore?

I don’t blame you; I’m definitely a victim of this vicious cycle too. I (supposedly) discover something none of my friends have ever seen or heard of, go crazy over it, decide to share the love with others, only to unmask it so much that I get annoyed of repeatedly hearing about it (now that I’ve got my friends hooked to it as well). Take La La Land for example; an exceptional film. I’ve seen it twice, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it in theaters, but I still, to this day, find myself constantly humming the soundtrack. However, I did also catch myself saying, “La La Land is so overexposed” and that the movie never really deserved the title of “Golden Globe Awards record breaker,” which, now that I think about it, is something weird to say. Had I forgotten about the times I got chills down my spine whilst watching the movie because the screenplay was so beautiful, or when I almost teared up towards the end of it? It’s definitely not that I was the first one to discover the film, but I did question why I could not genuinely be happy for the film getting more exposure, thus giving the actresses and actors I love the recognition they deserve.

I did give this a thought, and this is perhaps because I like variety in the things I watch, eat, listen to, or do. I’m always up for new things, hence my attraction towards lesser known genres of entertainment. However, there are a certain number of times things are allowed to be played constantly before it gets redundant, and before I get bored of a conversation involving it rather than genuinely enjoying the talk. So here’s the question we all want an answer to: is it always a positive for the thing you hold dear to your heart to go mainstream, or is it downhill from there? Take Taylor Swift, for example. I used to listen to her music when I was in the third grade, when she was still a singer with the guitar singing country music. Now, her songs are still about love and heartbreaks but they more or less fit the pop genre. Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to her discography. However, I assure you there are fans who have distanced themselves from her and her music because they can’t accept her new style of music. But honestly, can we blame her, or any other singer who has had a similar experience as her? They figured out what the majority of the populace likes to listen to, and adapted themselves in order to continue making music and more importantly, money. If they have found what works for them, whilst continuing to please the public, go figure.

If you have been a loyal fan of something or someone for a fairly long time, of course you may feel betrayed by them after they’ve gone mainstream (whether that was their decision or not). However, you should also remind yourself that those singers, youtubers, actors, DJs, artists…; they’re human beings. They won’t stay the same forever, and where’s the fun in that anyways? People experience new things, change, and adopt certain elements they’ve learned into whatever they’ve been doing to create something new. And such change they make in order to impress the majority may end up in them going mainstream, thus perhaps giving them a little too much exposure. But just like the La La Land example I’ve given before, try to stop yourself from no longer accepting your favorite thing just because more people know about it now. Instead, be happy for the attention they’re receiving. That’s what will allow them to continue producing what you love. Moreover, I’m sure they will always remain loyal to the fans that have continued (and hopefully will continue) supporting them before they gained immense popularity.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)

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