Transcendentalism Pop Culture Project serena alvarez


“The fault-finder find faults even in paradise.’’

- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

From 2006-2011, "America's Got Talent" contestants were terrorized by Piers Morgan, also known as "the other Simon Cowell". Morgan was loved by few and hated by many. He was known for his shrewd and blunt comments. For example, Kehlani, a popular R&B singer, appeared on the show in 2011. She was the lead singer in a band named "Poplyfe", her being the only girl out of five members. Piers Morgan came down hard on her band members, telling Kehlani "she doesn't need them to be successful". He might have made this statement, but America didn't feel the same . Poplyfe finished in 4th on AGT as young teens.

I connect Piers Morgan with Henry David Thoreau's quote for several reasons. Piers Morgan is the fault-finder and the contestants are the paradise, well at least some of them. He finds every little detail to criticize upon although some of these contestants are almost close to perfect. Today, he is still known for his negativity and enjoyment of bringing others down.


“ A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”

On November 13, 2015 Justin Bieber released his heartfelt album, Purpose. Before 2015 came around, Bieber had a "bad boy" reputation. From drag racing under the influence, attempting robbery, being charged for assault, peeing on public property, to egging his neighbor's house causing nearly $80,000 worth of damage, that's who Justin Bieber was. Purpose knocked all of his fans off their feet, while the album was about owning up to his mistakes, love, and his faith. In the song "I'll Show You", one of the lines is "Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real". I feel this line is quite powerful because it reminds us that he is only human and he too makes mistakes. I believe the album was made as a promise for him to stay humble, as he has kept a clean slate since.

Although he did make a huge comeback to restore his faith and apologize for it all, we must look past it. That is how I connect Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote to Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber will probably never forgive himself for what he has done in the past, and neither will some of his fans.

Importance of Nature

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance"

At the MTV Music Awards in 2013, Miley Cyrus shocked the world with her “twerking” performance. Miley Cyrus performed with Robin Thicke on stage surprising us with her nude lingerie, foam finger, and her tongue out of her mouth. Later Cyrus was interviewed by US Magazine and stated "[The performance] was kind of going into this way of saying, 'I’m just going to do what will make me happy.' At that moment, that’s what really made me happy." She was given a great amount of hate, but that didn't stop her from pursuing her happiness. Later in the year of 2013, she released her Bangerz album, which I was lucky enough to attend her tour.

Miley Cyrus was and is still figuring out who she is, while we are here trying to do the same. I idolize her for being one of the few people that genuinely believe in loving yourself first because that all you have in the end. I connect Miley Cyrus with Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote because she doesn't care what other think, and I believe that's the point Emerson tried to get across.

Favoring Intuition over Reason

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

April of 2015, was no average month for U.S Olympian, Bruce Jenner. In a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, Jenner came out as a trans woman, saying that she had dealt with gender dysphoria since her youth. She changed her name from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. She stated that, for her, life as a woman is primarily a matter of mental state and lifestyle. Jenner cross dressed for many years and took hormone replacement therapy but stopped after her romance with Kris Kardashian in the early 1990s became more serious.

I connected Caitlyn Jenner with Henry David Thoreau's quote because maybe Caitlyn was the one to hear a different drum. Her whole life she knew she was in the wrong body and that didn't please her. Her close-knit family supported her and helped her listen to that drum, no matter how hard it was for them. It took everyone by surprise, especially by him being an Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete. The media didn't stop him from transitioning, he kept on following his own music.

Simplified Life

“Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

In 2012, Casey Adams released a song named Simple Life. The song is about exactly what the name of it is, a simple life. Adams sings about how we doesn't need a TV, a cell phone, or a speedy car, he just wants to live the simple life. He is known for his alternative music. Alternative music is known for being more free and open-minded. Adams is a "nature freak", as some would say, he loves being outdoors and would take it over being inside sitting on a couch.

Casey Adams is exactly who Henry David Thoreau wants us to be. Thoreau exaggerates the meaning of simplicity. Today, it's tough to be as simple as he was but Casey Adams falls along that line. Personally, it would be very difficult for me to try and be simple when I'm used to all these fancy gadgets.


Created with images by tpsdave - "lake tahoe california emerald bay" • Unsplash - "beach sand island" • Muffet - "full glass" • WimdeGraaf - "seagull bird wings" • - "ludwig drums 14" • ohmeaghan - "SIMPLE Bracelet by ohginger"

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