Pop Gluttony

With all the talk of lousy healthcare, childhood obesity and adult-onset diabetes in America, a healthy diet and an “everything in moderation” approach seems like the only rational lifestyle choice one can make these days to avoid ending up with either a bum ticker or just a really big bum. So, some time back, I just said goodbye to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, smorgasbords, endless pasta combos and dessert bars.

But while I am choosy about what I eat, I continue to chow down on an unfettered pop culture diet of movies, TV shows, video games, books and music because I can. Pop culture may be the last great excess that won’t kill you.

My excessive pop culture diet started in my teenage years when — throughout my adolescence and early adulthood, and continuing until just a year or so ago — I could digest several new albums each month without outwardly showing the caloric results of my musical gluttony. Then my metabolism slowed down.

I imagine that’s how I managed to outgrow several hard drives, CD holders and even a 160 gigabyte iPod. The music and movie binges at Best Buy and iTunes started to show, and I found myself having to shop for extra large media storage devices that one could only describe as “husky”. Now, while some of my friends strut around with lean portable devices that hold enough pop culture for them, I eye the two tetrabyte Western Digital MyBooks and wonder when I’ll need to upgrade.

Sure, I’ve tried to cut back and get rid of some of the pop stuff I no longer need, but as soon as I delete something like TLC’s CrazySexyCool, the space is immediately eaten up by Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster or another two-disc, limited edition release. Each time I delete an episode of Dr. Who on my DVR, it is replaced by one of Caprica. I gave away my trade paperback of Kevin Smith’s Batman comic Cacophony and then picked up the single issues of Kevin Smith’s Batman comic, The Widening Gyre.

My bad pop diet extends beyond the entertainment I take home and hoard; it also affects what I consume while out with friends, or even on my own. Summer used to be the time when I’d make certain allowances for spending a few nights each week in movie theaters and in concert halls, trying to see every new blockbuster released and catch every band I’d heard of that was swinging through town. But then I started to care about Oscar-nominated films and Grammy-award winners.

Spending $12.50 per movie ticket to see films I wouldn’t normally care much about, like this year’s Academy Award contenders An Education, A Single Man, or The Last Station seems reasonable, even though times are tight and it’d be cheaper to just watch something at home.

The late night dining of The Daily Show or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Let 4 Dead 2 on Xbox Live, and the constant snacking of TV in the gym or at bars, YouTube on my phone and multiple blogs at the office fill in the time when I’m not having a “real” entertainment meal. Even brief moments on an elevator or in a cab, or while on the phone with a friend, is spent playing “Doodle Jump” and “Pocket God”. And if texting counts as pop culture, then my gluttony literally knows no bounds with my unlimited message plan.

So while I have become conscientious about the food I put into my body, I am surrounded by pop and chow down endlessly. It’s hard not to when there is so much to consume it is like a bottomless KFC Famous Bowl of entertainment. Further, much like when I’ve eaten a Famous Bowl, there is honestly little concern for what’s good for me and even what tastes yummy. After all, if I was all that worried about nutritional value or flavor, how could I explain eating up Lil Wayne’s Rebirth, the Jennifer’s Body Blu-ray and When in Rome (sorry Kristen Bell, I love you dearly but you can do better) all in the same week? I doubt even an intensive pop culture colonic could cleanse my system of that particular toxic trifecta.

But I’m OK with having clogged cultural arteries because, while it’s a good practice to treat the human body like a temple — and to keep certain foods from ever being offered up in that house of worship – I’ve come to think there’s no real harm if my pop culture body is viewed as a tiki bar where the party never ends and the attendees are questionable.

My entertainment diet may suck, but at least there are no healthcare costs to worry about. So eat up, folks, since pop culture is the only thing we’re still able to over indulge in without dying as a result. Enjoy the excess and binge as much as you like; you may rot your brain, but not your body.