In 1994 the baseball film A League of Their Own premiered. Set during the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s, the film follows groups women who were recruited to play professional ball. One scene in the movie has always stood out to me. Shot as the women are dressing for a night out, the camera notes a thin, dark line going up the back of some of the women’s legs. We see that a black eyeliner il had been passed around, and silhouettes had been drawn and redrawn in an effort to make each non-existent panty-hose “seam” look as straight as possible. In an era of nylon shortage, fashion was still a priority.
I was 13 when A League of Their Own was released. Looking back, this moment was something I thought a lot about. The reality of war mixed with women’s beauty ideals, and something as banal as panty-hose, has always resonated as one of the best arguments for pop culture’s impact on society.
Consider, for a moment, the last time you looked at a post on social media, or an ad online. Did you have a moment of self-comparison? Did you consider buying a product you never knew existed because Instagram thought you would like it? Or, what song was playing the night you first kissed someone? Or what movie can you hardly bear to watch because it so closely fits with an experience you’ve had? Popular culture makes its way into our subconscious and, before we know it, we are seeing the world through a lens that has been created for us.
Each episode will connect a piece of pop culture (whether it be music, movies, tv, video games, social media, technology, podcasts, etc.) with an expert who can help us put the topic in context. I love talking with smart people, and I love the prospect of re-framing parts of life that we think we know so well. I hope you will enjoy Most Popular: The Podcast!
Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, Ph.D. is the editor of several books focused on gender and culture including The Politics of Gender (Brill, 2018), The Beyoncé Effect (McFarland Press, 2016), Feminist Theory and Pop Culture (Sense, 2015), and Gender and Pop Culture: A Text-Reader (Sense, 2014). She is the author of Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos (Scarecrow, 2013). In addition to numerous book chapters and journal publications, Adrienne has written for the news website Huff Post. She has been interviewed by NBC News, NPR, Reuters, USA Today, The Tampa Bay Times, and the Orlando Sentinel on topics such as violence against women in popular culture to women’s representation in music. She can be reached at www.adriennetrier-bieniek.com.