Does it mean you are living a permanent “senior moment,” that you see more and more pop-culture references you can’t follow at all?
I don’t know. I’m not sure I would have known more about these particular phenomena if I were, say, 20 years younger in the year 2013. In 1993, when I was 20 years younger, there wasn’t nearly so much marginalia in our passing culture. I’m not sure the issue is age, here, so much as the “informational” transformation that has made it possible for such a dense succession of pointless and unmemorable manifestations to parade before the average person’s consciousness in a given day.
But maybe I’m just getting old. I do want to note, with some pride, that I have finally gotten a slightly better clue than I once had about what the word “Kardashian” means. There was a long time there when, for all I knew, it could have been the name of one of those exotic, “French” diseases.
OK, here goes, in no particular order.
1. Honey Boo Boo. What in creation is Honey Boo Boo? I don’t even know where to start. Is it a stuffed bear? A sugared cereal? A human being? What? Why do we care?
2. Duck Dynasty. Again – what? I’m dying here. I can’t relate this expression to anything in my random-access memory files. Is it animal? Vegetable? Mineral?
3. Fifty Shades of Gray. Do I want to know? It sounds like Joe Biden explaining what used to be called, with distaste, “miscegenation.” Thankfully, we don’t even think in those terms anymore, so maybe there’s no point in trying to account for whatever this is.
4. Snooki. This sounds like crossing a pool cue with a Hostess snack. Is it a person? A brand of sneaker? A payday-loan-company merger?
5. Bounty hunter show. There’s a dog in this one somewhere. I can imagine what’s going on with “bounty hunter,” so maybe this one isn’t the best example, but what’s the dog about? Is this a pop adaptation of Albert Payson Terhune? I’m thoroughly lost.
There are more. I run into at least one per day now. Granted, I don’t spend much time with TV channels other than watching some news, weather, sports, and HGTV. I guess if I read – what, People? The People website (I assume there is one)? Is that the Ur-guide to the pop cosmos? – I’d have more of a head start on this stuff.
I do absorb important things like the fact that the history and learning channels are forever using computer simulations to depict the end of life as we know it – building whole series around this premise, in fact. It seems like a depressing premise, with limited scope for development, and I admit to not tuning in. But I am aware of it.
I know where SpeedTV is in the channel line-up, so I can watch the F1 races after the fact. (Who can be awake for most of them on Pacific Time? – and, plus, the live coverage of them isn’t always so good stateside.) Just try, moreover, to pry the My Cat from Hell series from my cold, dead fingers.
I’m not completely alienated from pop culture. I know what a reality TV show is. They look awfully silly, but I could at least define what one is, if challenged. I can usually recall, if I think really hard, what the big movie is at the box office right now. I probably haven’t seen it, but I know what it is. I know next to nothing about pop music after about 2003-4 – wake me from a sound sleep and ask me anything about music in the 1970s; absolutely anything – but I do know there’s a difference, fool, between rap and hip-hop. Just don’t ask me to explain it.
Things like Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Endless, Incessant, Outta-My-Face-Already Vampires have penetrated my consciousness, at least to the extent that I could explain in 25 words (but more likely less) why they link minds together in today’s cultural-neuron network. (Somebody wrote a book, and then somebody made a movie. That’s my explanation.)
And yet, with those phenomena, I suspect I’m already in the “old and busted” column, and there’s new hotness out there leaving me in the dust as I type. I’m better with art, football, and fashion. I read, a lot, although not that much from the NYT bestseller list, which tends to feature self-help books and novels no one will remember a year from now. My taste differs pretty significantly from Oprah’s.
But I’ll just be hornswoggled if I can figure out a deductive approach to “Honey Boo Boo.” I don’t have the tools to decipher that one. I’ve crossed a cultural-instinct line somewhere. I can’t navigate forward or backward; can’t intuit true north; I’m dead in the water, Honey Boo Boo-wise. All I can do is ask for help.