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

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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– Lots of videos edition

Happy Wednesday! The sun is actually shining today, which gives me hope that the rain is behind us for a while. I was so over the dreariness. The good news about all the rain is that it gave me plenty of time to hole up and surf the web in search of pop culture stories to share with you, my dear readers. I found more videos of interest than usual, so this week is more audio/visual heavy than usual. Why read when you can just click a button and watch? Enjoy your biweekly roundup of all things pop!

  • The Dumb and Dumber sequel that would reunite Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels has been dropped by Warner Brothers. Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly are shopping the project to other companies. Countdown until the inevitable Kickstarter?
  • Congrats to Kate Winslet on her pregnancy. This will be her third child, her first with new husband Ned Rocknroll (still the best name ever).
  • Johnny Depp is FIFTY! How the f*&k did that happen?
  • A new trailer has been released for the next Hobbit movie:

 

  • Also recently released – a trailer for the newest Woody Allen movie Blue Jasmine. Look – It’s Louis CK!

 

  • Happy belated birthday to the wonderful Peter Dinklage. He turned 44 yesterday. I could watch this scene of him slapping Joffrey all day long.

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  • That was quick – after a solid opening weekend, The Purge is getting a sequel.
  • The guy who plays Hodor (Hodor!) on Game of Thrones is also a DJ.
  • What’s that you say? Baseball and boy bands? You have my attention.

 

  • Laraine Newman and company nail this Girls parody:

 

  • Bob Saget couldn’t help but stop by a familiar location while on a trip to San Francisco

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  • True Blood returns for its 6th season on Sunday. Here’s to hoping that it’s better than last season; as you may recall, I was not too impressed.

 

  • The new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee drops tomorrow at noon:

 

I didn’t watch the Tonys – Game of Thrones and Mad Men own my Sunday nights – but looks like I missed a hell of a show.

 

Note to Seth MacFarlane – THAT is how you host an awards show. Full slate of winners (and the shows that are now impossible to get tickets to) can be found here.

  • Attention all Juggalos – Insane Clown Posse is getting their own show. I’ll admit – the episode of their webseries that I saw was kind of amusing.
  • The band Portugal. The Man scored some familiar faces (if you are a It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fan) for their newest short:

 

  • Speaking of It’s Always Sunny – if you ever wondered what the guys were saying backwards in the end credits each season, wonder no more:

 

  • I love these covers of songs from Bob’s Burgers. This one is by The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt and it’s great.
  • Looks like I’m planning a trip to DC this fall – An Anchorman exhibit opens at the Newsuem in November.
  • Warner Brothers gave up their rights to Friday the 13th and South Park for a piece of the new Christopher Nolan movie.
  • Samuel L. Jackson reads the iconic “I am the one that knocks” monologue from Breaking Bad. My head just exploded.

 

  • This is kind of cool: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” reimagined in different musical styles through the decades:

 

  • One thing Kanye ain’t lacking is confidence, as evidenced by this New York Times article with the self-proclaimed “visionary.” The most ridiculous quotes are here.
  • The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Scott Thorson (Liberace’s Ex) about HBO’s Behind the Candelabra (a must see – Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are fantastic and you have to see Rob Lowe to believe it).
  • If you missed it, Google had a wonderful Google Doodle earlier this week honoring the late great Maurice Sendak:

 

  • Look for Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 in 2015. Shows how much I know – I didn’t even know that there had already been 3 movies.
  • Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) has joined the cast of the live action reimagined Cinderella.
  • While waiting for a Green Day concert to start, an Bohemian Rhapsody sing-a-long broke out:

 

  • A Christmas Story, the Musical returns to New York this holiday season (but not on Broadway).
  • Singer Jon Marco isn’t famous, but he’s trying to make a name for himself with a video that features recreations of several 80s movies. Not so sure about the song, but I’ll give him points for creativity.

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • I refuse to tire of these Daft Punk mashups. This one is with moments from the Bill and Ted’s franchise:

 

  • Sex and the City debuted 15 years ago last week. To celebrate, here is a mashup of all the guest stars on the show (I remember almost none of them).
  • Spoilers abound in this Princess Bride/Game of Thrones mashup, so proceed with caution:

 

  • Mad Men reacts to the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones (SPOILERS – but seriously – that episode was almost two weeks ago. Catch up already)

 

  • A supercut of all the fake websites on Arrested Development:

 

  • A mashup of animals who can’t handle mirrors:

 

And finally, these supercuts of NBC’s Brian Williams make me giggle uncontrollably. Damn you Fallon – you’ve done it again:

  • Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”

 

  • Warren G’s “Regulate:”

 

  • The pièce de résistance– NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”

 

Have a great day!