How Important Is Popular Culture to the Contemporary Writer?

How important is knowledge of popular culture to the contemporary writer? Is popular culture knowledge something we should actively pursue, or something we accumulate without effort as we wander through our lives?

I must admit, a lot of popular culture disappoints me. Do we really care about the lives of pop celebrities? Do we need a play-by-play of every little development in politics? If we don’t check in every day, how often SHOULD we check in to pop culture portals and similar sources in order to be able to stay relevant in discourse?

Gossip is an important part of contemporary culture. Perhaps it might be a major way we as Americans communicate with each other. I always believed that gossip was an entertainment for people who didn’t have any deeper concerns in their lives, but now I’m not so sure.  Have we turned gossip into our primary language?

Are we capable of communicating (as a society) without a provocative element to capture our interest?

Please tell me what you think!