Pop Culture Blind Spots

“I’ve never seen Star Wars.”

Up until a few years ago, that was my go to conversation starter. It never failed; I throw that little nugget of information out there and suddenly there was all sorts of chatter. On good nights, there were multiple invitations to make me finally sit down and watch the original trilogy (no one cares that I haven’t seen the most recent movies; some people are envious). It was the best icebreaker that I ever had; I honestly didn’t have much interest in the films either way, but at a certain point not seeing Star Wars became my thing. People just couldn’t get over that a person my age who is as into pop culture as I am had missed this cultural touchstone. It seems like a much bigger affront Men in particular were flabbergasted with this admission so I realized dropping that truth bomb was guaranteed to get me some attention. I’m no fool – why would I want to give that up?

Now just because I had never seen Star Wars didn’t mean that I didn’t get most of the references to the films that are made. It’s hard to navigate pop culture without running into some Star Wars-related content at some point. So while I may not have gotten the exact context of all the references, I understood enough that I wasn’t completely in the dark. It helped that I had seen Spaceballs, as well as the Robot Chicken and Family Guy episodes that were devoted entirely to Star Wars. Clerks helped familiarize me with the Death Star (and the politics involved):

 

I may not have known everything, but I knew the broad strokes: Darth Vader was Luke’s father, there was an epic battle between good and evil, and no one over the age of eight likes Ewoks.

I finally relented and watched the films a few years ago, when I thought I was no longer going to need to use the line to meet new boys (spoiler alert: I was wrong). I can’t say that I honestly enjoyed the movies all that much; by the time I finally watched them they had been built into something so unobtainable that there was no way that I wasn’t going to be disappointed. It was hard for me to overlook the obvious limitations of a film trilogy that was made in the 70s and 80s. I also, obviously, knew the major plot twist that took everyone by surprise back in the day. I was surprised to find out that my ad hoc Star Wars education prior to the movies had led me slightly astray; based on the amount of coverage that Boba Fett received in Robot Chicken and other programs, I thought he was a much bigger character in the Star Wars universe. I was disappointed that he was played a generally minor role in the film. I was also annoyed to find out that I had inadvertently been quoting Hans Solo; I thought that responding to someone saying “I love you” with “I know” was a suave Heather move. Sadly, it turns out I was just ripping off Harrison Ford (which explained the reaction I got when I used it):

 

I was clearly not as pimp as I thought I was.

Though I have lost my standing as a Star Wars virgin, I still have a surprising number of pop culture blind spots. For whatever reason, I have missed out on some pop culture moments that everyone else seemed to find the time for. I have seen plenty of obscure stuff, but I missed out on some pretty big mainstream media. While none of these get quite the reaction that not seeing Star Wars received, the admissions are usually greeted with some level of incredulousness. Here are some of my pop culture blind spots:

  • Indiana Jones movies

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Perhaps I have some underlying aversion to Harrison Ford, but I have never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies. This is particularly odd since my mom enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Ark quite a bit; I’ve seen a scene or two when it was on at my parents’ house, but I’ve never sat down and watched the whole thing. Much like Star Wars, I know some of the more iconic stuff – the boulder scene from Lost Ark has been copied in a million different things – but I’m generally in the dark about these films. If you quoted the movie to me, I’d probably have no idea what you were talking about.

 

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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This TV show is not quite as mainstream as Indiana Jones; I don’t know that Buffy ever was a ratings powerhouse. While the show has something of a cult status, for someone who runs in the pop culture circles that I do, this is a pretty big omission from my pop culture resume. I can’t fake my way through this at all; I barely can name the characters on the series. I have no real excuse – I actually have the first few seasons on DVD on loan from a friend – but I have just never gotten around to sitting down to watch it. I’ve seen an episode or two sporadically and I enjoyed it, so that’s not even what’s holding me back. Someday I’ll get around to it, but until then my eyes glaze over whenever someone makes a reference to Sunnydale High. I have seen the dreadful movie that the show is very loosely based on, but that doesn’t seem to help my street cred at all.

  • Nineteen Eighty –Four by George Orwell

1984

When I went off to college, I discovered that there were a lot of books that everyone else read in college that we somehow never got around to. I’m not sure how this happened – I think I received a pretty good education – but it is surprising the number of classics that somehow were never assigned. I only read The Catcher in the Rye last year, after being tired of years of references to Holden Caulfield and having to fake that I understood the meaning (ironically, I was one of the phonies that Holden had such a problem with).

We read Animal Farm my sophomore year, but we never got around to Nineteen Eighty –Four. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of references to the book in politics, I have a general idea of the basic plot. I don’t know, however, if the book is being misinterpreted for political gain (that tends to happen) or any of the details of the story. This seems like a book that I should have read at some point.

  • Dumb and Dumber

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This is the film that comes closest to getting me the same reaction as my Star Wars admission; of all the things that I haven’t seen, people get the most upset about Dumb and Dumber. I really have no idea why I haven’t seen this one – it came out during my freshman year of college when I was watching a lot of movies. I’ve even rented this film for other people to watch, but I’ve never sat down and watched the movie myself. The guys I watch football with every Sunday love this movie and quote it a lot, so I’ve picked up enough that I can fake my way through a conversation if need be or at least recognize where the quote are coming from. I’ve even been known to reference this scene, despite the fact that I’ve never seen the movie:

 

I have no principled reason for not watching it – I’m not above dumb movies – but it just hasn’t happened yet. I’m guessing that after years of hearing the quotes out of context, I’m just not going to be all that impressed with it.

There are other omissions that have become less problematic with age – no one seems to care anymore that I’ve never seen Beverly Hills Cop, for instance. I’ve also remedied some previous issues; I’ve seen Rocky IV in the last few years, which made this Family Guy montage make a whole lot more sense:

 

I’m sure that there are others that I’m missing; of course, pop culture blind spots are different from things that I’ve tried and simply cannot get into, like Doctor Who. I’d like to think that I have fewer blind spots than most people, simply because of the sheer volume of pop culture that I’ve sampled, but there are invariably going to be things that I simply missed.

What are your biggest pop culture blind spots? Confess your sins in the comments below.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – A.B.B. (After Breaking Bad) edition

I’m still adjusting to life in a world where Breaking Bad is over. I find that I’m having trouble getting into my Fall TV shows – I’ve already dropped Once Upon a Time, Boardwalk Empire and Modern Family from sheer lack of interest and I’m pretty meh on the new pilots (more on that later this week). Episodes of Sons of Anarchy are beginning to pile up as well and I haven’t bothered to watch the premieres of Revenge or Homeland yet, so their days with a season pass may be numbered. The good news is that this general apathy means that I have a lot more time to surf the web in search of pop culture goodness to share. So really, my loss is your gain. Kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor in this week’s edition of my pop culture round up

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  • The cover for the upcoming Ron Burgundy memoir has been released.

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  • Peter Dinklage made a stop by Sesame Street:

 

  • Usher and Dinklage’s GoT co-star Lena Headey also recently made appearances.
  • I am not super impressed with Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience, Volume 2. It just sounds like a lot of songs that were (rightfully) scrapped from the first album.
  • Who doesn’t love a Halloween themed programing? TV Tango has rounded up 360 of them airing this month. That seems a little excessive.

 

  • The opening credits for American Horror Story: Coven has been released and they are unsurprisingly terrifying.

 

  • Game shows are becoming sticklers for pronunciation – contestants on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune were both penalized recently.
  • A new film starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Alexander Skarsgard and…..Taylor Swift? Be afraid, Skarsgard. Be very afraid.
  • It’s been far too long since we’ve had a new Britney Spears video. The wait is over:

 

  • Construction has resumed on the monstrosity of a home that was featured in the documentary Queen of Versailles. Excellent film if you haven’t seen it.
  • I was a big fan of ALF back in the day. Watch him sing “Berzerk” by Eminem:

 

  • The Avett Brothers played some Metal on Fallon:

 

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Breaking Bad in over *sob* but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have some links

  • Sadly, I did not win tickets to the Breaking Bad finale viewing party. These photos from the event make it look like I missed a hell of a time.
  • This one is for my friend Brigette:

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  • Aaron Paul lends his vocal talents – and his catchphrase – to the single “Dance Bitch”

 

  • I would totally read this book:

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  • My pals over at Grantland put together an In Memoriam video for BB’s fallen:

 

  • See how you do on the Breaking Bad superfan quiz (I got 43/50).
  • A Breaking Bad tribute set to Green Day’s “Good Riddance”

 

  • Glee’s Naya Rivera was a proud sister when her brother scored his first touchdown in the NFL:

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  • You can read an edited excerpt from Dave Eggers’ upcoming new novel, The Circle.
  • Watching Conan play Grand Theft Auto V had me literally laughing out loud.

 

  • The Atlanta Braves did a “Blurred Lines” parody:

I enjoyed it, but I’m still not rooting for you in the playoffs. #TeamDodgers

  • For those of you who don’t normally watch baseball but want to get into the playoffs, GQ compares playoff teams to pop culture to help. Ha – the Red Sox are the Lannisters!
  • I may have to buy this Friday Night Lights fanzine just for the Tim Riggins paper doll.
  • Kelly Clarkson lost her fight for the Jane Austen ring that she won at an auction.
  • Watch The Hound from Game of Thrones sing the Rolling Stones. Wait – what??

 

  • The new Sleigh Bells album is streaming over at Rolling Stone.
  • Characters from Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad got Simpsonized:

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Stop! Trailer Time!

  • HBO’s new comedy, Getting On:

 

  • A new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

 

  • The latest from Chris Lilley, Ja’mie King: Private School Girl (I can’t wait!!):

 

  • Aziz Ansari has a special coming out soon on Netflix:

 

  • A Case of You with Justin Long, Sam Rockwell and Peter Dinklage:

 

  • This guy at a Willie Nelson concert apparent subscribes to “dance like no one is watching”

 

  • Guillermo del Toro made the couch gag for this year’s The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

As always, we wrap up with the mashups and supercuts

  • A mashup of MacGyver and Archer:

 

  • A mashup of Breaking Bad and Need for Speed:

 

  • Who can resist a Sesame Street mashup? Certainly not me.

 

  • “Get Lucky Wit It”

 

  • And finally – the cast of Breaking Bad sings the N’Sync classic, “Bye, Bye, Bye”

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Getting Old Edition

It’s my birthday this weekend, which is usually cause for celebration, at least in my eyes. Everyone else just kind of humors me. This year, however, I’m just not feeling it and am kind of dreading having to say that I am a year older. There is not legitimate reason for this apathy – it isn’t a “milestone” birthday or anything – and I know turning a year older beats the alternative, but I’m just not in a celebratory mood at all this year. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the excitement for my birthday that everyone else got over when they were a kid. Perhaps it is because this year a lot of people have yet to respond to my unofficial party or can’t come. Perhaps it is because I do so many awesome things throughout the year that I don’t really need this excuse to make a big deal out of one particular day. Whatever the reason, as Saturday approaches, instead of my usual giddiness, it’s being greeted with a shrug. I’m happy to see my friends, but that’s about it.

Pop culture, on the other hand, still makes me excited and I had a lot of fun compiling your biweekly roundup of all the pop culture goodness that you might have missed. I just kept finding all sort of cool things to include. So while I attempt to determine what exactly is bumming me out, kick back and enjoy:

  •  Congrats to Bob Newhart for winning his first Emmy! The full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners can be found here. The Primetime Emmys will air on September 22. There may be a live blog.
  • The West Wing fans – Allison Janney performed “The Jackal” last night on the newly revived The Arsenio Hall Show.

 

  • Everyone that I know that watched the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez fight last weekend was disappointed. Snoop Dogg Lion, however, won over a pound of weed on that fight.
  • After a lackluster performance at the box office, the planned sequel to The Mortal Instruments has been delayed indefinitely.
  • A new season of Key and Peele debuts tonight:

 

  • Best. Parents. Ever.
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, will be released next Tuesday.
  • People keep making Breaking Bad musicals. Check out Walter White and the Mazing Blue Crystal Meth:

 

  • This is probably NOT a good sign: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has been shut down indefinitely for script maintenance. Probably for the best; this movie is wholly unnecessary.
  • Eddie Murphy did a reggae song with Snoop Lion. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a joke or not:

 

  • The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen and Ryan Atwood (Peter Gallagher and Ben McKenzie in real life) reunited at Gallagher’s daughter’s concert.
From @petergallagher

From @petergallagher

  • The O.C. is getting a a remake – in Turkey.
  • I am a fan of both Metallica and bluegrass, so I really enjoyed this cover of “Enter Sandman:”

 

  • The first three hosts for SNL have been announced; Tina Fey kicks the season off, followed my Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis.
  • Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video is greatly improved with the addition of Nicolas Cage:

 

  • Watch this guy do 13 Muppet impressions in a minute:

 

  • Speaking of Muppets, they did all sorts of great stuff since the last round up. Cookie Monster spoofed some movies:

 

  • Elmo (or a reasonable facsimile) hung out with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen:
@SirPatStew

@SirPatStew

  • Grover sang with Dave Matthews:

 

  • Cookie Monster also found some time to hang out with Loki:

 

  •  UC Irvine is offering a free online course on The Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I may have to take this just for kicks. I’m thinking that could really spruce up my resume.
  • Ha! Watch Todd from Breaking Bad gun down Justin Bieber:

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No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

  • He’s still really good looking, but I’m not digging Joe Manganiello as much without his beard.
  • Eminem turned up during the Michigan/Notre Dame game. It was awkward, to say the least.

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  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller recreated with LEGOs:

 

  • Britney Spears is rumored to be earning $15 million per year for her Vegas residency. Seems as good a reason as any to finally plan my first trip to Vegas.

 

  • This local sports anchor worked 41 Seinfeld references into his segment:

 

He also did a segment full of old school rap references and wrestling references. I think this guy and I could be fast friends.

  • Also announcing tours: Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Kanye (the latter who I am going to see in Madison Square Garden!)
  • Cecily Strong is joining the soon departing Seth Myers at the SNL Weekend Update desk. The last few people to sit at the desk (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon) have gone on to some pretty great things.
  • A writer at UPROXX wrote a tribute to one of the greatest episodes of It’s Always SunnyChardee MacDennis. I wholeheartedly concur.
  • The Ohio University marching band preformed a rendition of Ylvis’ viral sensation The Fox during their game against Marshall.

 

Haven’t see the video for The Fox yet? Here it is, in all it’s weirdness. Watch it now, thank me later.

  • Breaking Bad fans are the best. Los Pollos Hermanos now has its own Yelp page, full of reviews.
  • Fiona Apple covered “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka for a Chipotle ad:

 

Trailers! Get your trailers here:

  • Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco:

 

  • National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy, starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin:

 

  • Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall (that’s kind of a weird combo):

 

  • Will Forte and Bruce Dern star in Nebraska, the latest from director Alexander Payne:

 

  • James Franco and Jason Statham are in a movie together. Yes, I’m serious.

 

  • A photo of Justin Bieber holding a script for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie almost broke the Internet.
@justinbieber

@justinbieber

No – he isn’t playing Robin.

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  • Who knew that Marty McFly was such a screamer?

 

  • A Billy Joel/Kanye mashup sounds way better than you would think:

 

  • Blurred Sanford mashes up Blurred Lines and the Sanford and Son theme song:

 

  • This supercut proves Bill Murray is an awkward kisser.

 

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets a modern trailer remix:

 

  • Les Miserables…..with light sabers:

 

  • Good Will Batman (NSFW):

 

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets the Cheers opening credit treatment:

 

  • And finally……The Dukes of Heisenberg:

 

Have a great Wednesday!