PBS Idea ChannelIn a world where news arrives in 140 characters or less and we thank people for their birthday wishes by clicking the Like button, it can be all too easy to fly on autopilot when it comes to deeper thinking. But there’s a beauty behind pop culture phenoms like nail art, Super Mario Bros., and, yes, Bronies, and PBS has a quick and entertaining way to explore it.

The PBS Idea Channel features a new video every week from pop culture junkie Mike Rugnetta. Each episode lasts five minutes or less and features an unexpected and intelligent take on pop culture phenomena. Topics include Hello Kitty, Instagram, music mash-ups, and how My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is altering the definition of masculinity– with supporting quotes from John Stuart Mill and Anais Nin, of course.

I’ll admit it: I’m fascinated. Not only because Mike is hitting a lot of my interest areas. The real allure is that after watching just four videos, my brain is churning. For the first time in what feels like forever, I’m thinking critically and really considering the cultural implications of pop culture. Is nail art actually art? Is Twitter actually literature? Will web art replace art galleries? Are Bronies as natural as men wearing pink before 1920? For just a few moments, the videos make me slow down and think. And I like that.

I imagine older kids will get a kick out of it too. But if you’ve still got little ones, after they’ve  gone to bed, have a glass of wine and some dark chocolate and watch a few videos. It’s almost like having an intelligent conversation by yourself.

It’s like yoga for your brain, but with LOLcats.~Delilah 

Watch, comment, and subscribe at the PBS Idea Channel