My Pop Culture Blind Spots

seven samurai... or six in this pic... hmmm

In one of the earliest episodes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast (the most consistently wonderful and entertaining podcast I have yet to listen to) they went over each of their individual pop culture blind spots… meaning, those chunks of the pop culture landscape that everyone is talking about… and you have no clue as to what they are talking about other than knowing, “yep, that’s a thing!”  I have been itching to expose my own personal blind spots since that episode, and now that they have done a second episode containing some new blind spots, I can resist no longer!

I have always despised that feeling of not knowing what is going on when everyone is talking about a particular subject… it kills me when people are talking about classic or current movies that are the current zeitgeist and I am left either silent, or worse, giving that classic line, “uhhhh… yeah… I think I saw that a long time ago… hard to remember.”

When the subject of television comes around, over the last ten years or so it is safe to say I am no longer in the loop.  I have a few favorites that I watch, but beyond that, I am clueless.

Books?  Well, books are a trickier subject.  They tend to require a great deal more time, or at least “active” time and the number of books both new and old are so monumental that I don’t imagine anyone can keep on top of everything in current popular culture.

So that is how I am going to break this down… here are my pop culture blind spots in movies, television and books.

Movies

If you have read this blog at all, you know I love film.  That does not mean that I’ve seen all the films I would like to.  I have a few massive holes… for starters; I’ve never seen Truffaut’s The 400 Blows.  Nor have I seen Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  These are two films I feel I truly need to see… I have shame over these omissions.

I have yet to see Scorsese’s Casino.  I have no idea why I skipped this one.  Goodfellas is one of my all time favorite movies (not to mention Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ), so why would I skip a film with such incredible DNA?

I mentioned in one of my podcasts how I have never seen Goonies.  I don’t feel too bad about this one and am sure I would not be that impressed at this point.  Seems to be one of those movies that would have had a bigger impact on me if I had seen it when it was originally released.  I think it’s safe to say that ship has sailed for me.

Television

I don’t even know where to begin with this one… there are so many blank spots in my knowledge of current TV that it would almost make more sense if I were to say, “these are the shows I watch, other than that, I’m clueless.”  Instead, here is my list of shows that I either want to see, or don’t have any desire beyond the fact that everyone who watches them loves them…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer… couldn’t be bothered.  Same goes for True Blood.

Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Dexter, Battlestar Gallactica… five shows I am sure I would love, if only I wasn’t so concerned about leaving my kids to fend for themselves while I sit and watch TV while at the same time yelling at them to leave the room… watching R rated films has become a very late night endeavor that is causing a bit of a backlog of DVDs (it’s such a sad stack of discs… such great films that I just can’t find the time to either watch or rewatch).

Reality TV… you can have it.  I have no despair over not knowing what is happening in the world of reality television.  I once watched Survivor and American Idol… until I got bored with the former, and realized I hate most of the music on the latter.  Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Amazing Race, various Bachelor and Bachelorette shows… I want no part of it.  Sadly I am aware of a few of the Real Housewives programs thanks to Mrs. Blahg… but that is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  Maybe that’s the appeal for most people.

Books

OK… like I mentioned before… books are tricky.  I have a track record of either reading series based on what I have seen (or will see) on television or on film… Harry Potter, Twilight, A Song of Ice and Fire, His Dark Materials… or wanting to know what everyone is talking about when something big hits… The Hunger Games or The Girl with the Various Issues series.  But it’s many of the classics that I have missed.

Melville?  Nope.  Joyce?  O’Conner?  Eggers?  Franzen?  Nope, nope, nope and starting one.  So many authors… so many genres… so little time, and on occasion, so little interest.

Based on my tastes in entertainment you might imagine I’m a big fan of science fiction and fantasy… you would be wrong.  Although I have read some that I very much enjoy, those tend to be some of the bigger series such as Lord of the Rings and recently, Ender’s Game.  My aversion to these genres is honestly simple enough… stupid names.  How many consonants (with emphasis on Q, Y, X and Z) and apostrophes can they cram into a single name… Zzyxck’kr, is not a name.

It is my need to know what’s going on when something is popular that makes me laugh the most.  Twilight is the perfect example of this.  Nothing about the Twilight series is geared towards a 39 year old man… yet, there was so much hullabaloo over these books and subsequent movies that I was so curious, but could not bring myself to purchase the books and walk into my house without the fear of judgment and its’ attendant mockery… until the day Mrs. Blahg expressed a desire to read them herself.  I don’t recall now if that desire was spurned on by a mutual friend of ours giving it a thumbs up or if it was the first movie with all of its Robert Pattinson-ness and Kristen Stewart blinky-ness.  Either way… she showed interest in reading it.

I was with my older daughter at Borders when I was grabbing a book for myself, a book for her… and then, the copy of Twilight.  Of course, that would be the very day someone recognized me from elementary school.  Elementary school!!  She recognized me!  Called me by name!  I live 500 miles from where I went to grade school and here was someone I was in the glee club with standing in a Borders bookshop chatting with me and, I’m sure this is the case, judging me on the books in my hands… and one of those books was fucking Twilight!!  My daughter was shocked that she recognized me and the woman was kind enough to say, “Your father was very memorable”… I have no idea what to make of that.  I of course interjected, “I’m buying this for my wife!”  Then quietly, “But I think I will read it too.”  The words of wisdom she imparted on me, after expressing her love of the series, “Just get in touch with your inner teenage girl and you will be fine.”  I mentioned that I thought that might be illegal in this state and sauntered off in shame.

So there it is… my more obvious pop culture blind spots.  Some of them are embarrassing, some may be better left undisturbed.  What are your blind spots?  Should there be a greater effort to fill those holes?  Could that be a fun challenge?  Let me know what you think… it’s quite easy to leave a comment below… you just need an email address and some rudimentary addition skills.

My great thanks to the PCHH staff (crew),
Cornelius J. Blahg

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