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Few Clouds 28° Good Afternoon

‘Star Wars,’ Adele take us back to ‘The Monoculture’ world, where pop culture is universal

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in a scene

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in a scene from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Photo Credit: Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures / David James

Maybe we can all get along.

Though America is intensely divided on any number of issues heading into a heated presidential election year, there is one unlikely area where people seem to agree — popular culture.

The record-breaking successes of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Adele’s “25” (XL/Columbia) suggests the return of “The Monoculture” — what experts call the pre-Internet days when pop culture offerings were limited and essentially the same for everyone. That era was considered long gone, shattered by the myriad choices easily available through Internet distribution.

Popular culture is now seen as all about niches, where even the most specific interests can be completely served by a wide variety of independent and amateur filmmakers, musicians and other creative thinkers. “The Monoculture” was replaced by “The Long Tail.”

However, now, “The Monoculture” strikes back.

Since its release on Dec. 18, the latest “Star Wars” has broken nearly every box office record there is. It passed the worldwide $1 billion revenue mark in a mere 12 days. Last week, it moved into second place on the all-time movie earners list, with American box office earnings of $740.3 million. It is expected to reach No. 1 after this weekend’s receipts are counted, passing “Avatar’s” $760.5 million gross in 2009 within its first month of release.

Adele’s “25” album has been similarly stunning, racking up 7.44 million copies sold since its release on Nov. 20. It sold 3.48 million copies in one week, surpassing ‘N Sync’s single-week sales record — long-believed to be unbeatable — by more than 1 million copies. It also became the first album to sell more than a million copies in a week three separate times and it seems poised to shortly become the biggest-selling album of the 21st century so far.

Adele’s appeal crosses so many demographic boundaries that “Saturday Night Live” has already satirized her music as the only way to avoid confrontation at Thanksgiving dinner.

“Everyone has different opinions and beliefs,” the spot says. “But there is one thing that unites us all.”

Later, the family’s little girl offers a “Thanks, Adele.”

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