Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Out of Touch

I’m often amazed, but not unpleased, at how out of touch I am with modern popular culture. A lot of that is due to my age, of course, but I often seem very much unaware of things that other folks of my generation do know about. Let’s see.

A guy named James Gandolfini (I think that’s the spelling) died recently. I had no idea who he was. Even after I’d seen his photo I could only recognize him as being in a recent movie I saw with Brad Pitt about assassins. When I expressed my confusion, quite a few folks explained to me that he was on “The Sopranos.”  Ah, of course. The problem is that I’ve never seen an episode of that show.

Nor have I seen an episode of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Castle, Sons of Anarchy, or any of those Law and Order type CSI shows. I believe those are two different shows but I couldn’t tell which is which. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, other than watching about ten minutes with Lana the other week. All I know about Fawlty Towers is that it’s British. I believe. Now, I might well like all of these shows; I’ve just never felt the urge to sit down and watch them.

I do know who Justin Beiber is because I see him being made fun of on facebook all the time. However, I couldn’t pick Lady Gaga out of a line up, unless she was wearing a meat dress perhaps. Nor would I recognize Honey Boo Boo. I believe she is a rather large child but that’s as much as I could tell you. I think there are three Kardashian sisters and they have dark hair. I wouldn’t recognize them. They may or may not be the daughters of Bruce Jenner. One of them was dating Reggie Bush for a while. I know because he played for the Saints at that time and I pay attention to football. I used to think Eva Longoria was a Kardashian until someone explained to me that she wasn’t.

There are a bunch of Jersey Shore/Big Brother type shows. At least I believe there are, although I’ve never seen an episode of any of them. I know there was a guy on Jersey Shore who called himself the Situation. I know because he was on a roast one night and was amazingly stupid in a non-funny way. Also on that show was a short, dark haired woman named Snooki. I only know because of the Jersey Shore episode of South Park, and because I heard a snippet of her one time admitting that she’d never read a book until she was in her twenties but she was going to write one now.

Not long ago I was told I’d mistaken Kanye West for Puff  Daddy. Only, his name isn’t Puff Daddy anymore but I’m not sure what it is now. It used to be Puff Daddy when he did a pretty bad remake of a Led Zeppelin song for the Godzilla 2000 movie. I only know the name Kanye West because of the South Park episode making fun of him. He apparently interrupted some famous female singer at one of the award shows. I don’t know who she was or what show it was on. The Grammeys maybe. By the way, how do you spell Grammeys?  I’ve never watched an episode. I still can’t tell Kanye from Puff something. I also confuse Fifty Cent with Mike Tyson. They’re both big guys ain’t they?

There are about half a dozen or more blonde actors who appear as the female leads in horror movies that I’ve watched. I can’t tell any of them apart or give you their names. Worse than that, I can’t name the directors of 98 percent of the movies I see. I know Spielberg, Sergio Leone, David Lynch, and George Romero, and that’s about it. Oh, and John Carpenter, because his name was on my favorite horror movie of all time, John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”  I believe he may have directed the first Terminator and Alien too, but I’m not sure. There’s also a del Toro guy, I think. He may or may not have directed Pacific Rim but he recently had a big blockbuster. I didn’t know until last night that the Actor’s Studio is a school for actors. I just thought it was a celebrity interview show.

I could go on and on but I think you get my point. How about you? Are you as out of touch as I am?

My next post will be about what I do know about popular culture. That might be a shorter post.


Angie said...

I was a fan of all three CSI shows, and I think I saw Fawlty Towers once -- John Cleese was in it, and he's usually worth watching. Other than that, I haven't seen any of those shows either.

I'm not really into current music, so I don't pay attention there. Don't like "reality" shows, which are nothing of the sort. I do know that Snooki (or rather, her ghostwriter) wrote a book that hit the NYTimes list, but I heard it only sold about 7000 actual copies to readers that week; books make the list based on orders from vendors, not sales to readers, and the vendors way over-ordered. Wow, who'd have thought?

I don't even watch South Park, so you probably know more than I do about some of these celeb types because at least you've seen them mocked in animation. :)


nephite blood spartan heart said...

I think I'm aware of everyone you are speaking of, but I do think YOU are the richer for not knowing.

Randy Johnson said...

I'm pretty much in the same class with you. With the exception of Castle and Fawlty Towers(John Cleese,s original, I don't watch any others you mention.

Most of those women you mention I actively avoid on TV when I come across them. Attractive to be sure but completely talent-less, known only for looking good and being famous,

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I'm familiar with most of the people you mentioned though I might not have seen their films and serials or listened to their music. As David says, you aren't losing anything. I have seen a couple of episodes of Gandolfini's THE SOPRANOS and liked him as an actor. CASTLE got boring after a while. I saw FAWLTY TOWERS in the 80s, as I did most British sitcoms of the era, and thought John Cleese was really good. On the other hand, I'm often ignorant about directors of early films I watch and have to Google their names and then it's like, "Oh, so he's the one who made this film!" Next!

the walking man said...

OK now though I have to say about 60=70% of what you listed I have not seen or care about. The people I know because I read their names somewhere or other but i digress...that shit isn't pop culture it is scripted culture. Popular culture in my world has far more to do with politics and oligarchs. Not that they are popular but their scripts are more important to reality.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That made me laugh! While many of those things I've never seen, sad to say I do know who everyone is.
Carpenter's The Thing is an awesome film. But it was Cameron who directed The Terminator and Aliens.

BernardL said...

LMAO! Yeah, brother, you described my knowledge of pop culture perfectly. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, I owe South Park to Lana. She's a regular viewer and I started watching it with her. Before that I never watched it.

David J., I think so as well.

Randy, I can't tell most of those women apart. I only know they have dark hair or blonde, but if one ever died their hair I'd never know it.

Prashant, I thought Fawlty Towers was actually pretty new. Didn't know it had been around that long.

Mark, good point. I always figure pop culture to be the music, movies, and books folks are reading at any given moment in the larger culture.

Alex, Cameron. Yes. I do know him. I couldn't think of that name. He also did Avatar I believe and Titanic. I do know that name.

Bernard, whew, I'm not alone at least.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I consider myself fairly in touch, I havw teenage kids so they tend to keep me current. I detest almost all reality shows, most celebrities, and just about ny netwrok tv seriees. Although I do like the "Under the Dome" series. FYI, I really liked the Sopranos. Nice, entertaining post.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I've heard of most of the people and shows you mention, but my knowledge of most of them consists of just enough to know to avoid them. And I envy you your ignorance of them. I don't think you're missing much, although some of the premium cable shows might be worth watching. Don't spend my money on premium cable, so I don't know. I'd rather read a book than watch TV, and as for contemporary music, meh.

Gina Gao said...

This post actually made me laugh because this reminded me so much of my parents.

Ty said...

I'm not quite that out of touch, but yeah, I couldn't tell the difference between an CSI show or SUV show or whatever they're called this week.

But I'm less flabbergasted by my lack of knowledge about modern pop culture as I am the occasional lack concerning pop culture from when I was a teenager. I mean, from about 1983 to 1986, I pretty much lived in front of MTV, with the occasional foray over to HBO or Cinemax when I wasn't playing football. Yet still, every once in a while I'll hear some song on the radio and the DJ or my other half will say something like, "They were HUGE back in the day!" And I'm like, "They were?"

Charles Gramlich said...

Sean, I've been watching Under the Dome. Not sure how I'll judge it in the end but it's keeping me watching.

Keith, yeah, my first wife wanted HBO so we had it. But since then I've not had any premium channels. Don't want to spend the money.

Gina, I may be your parents age. :)

Ty, I watched quite a lot of MTV myself but I probably tuned out a lot of the stuff. I mostly watched the heavier band vids. I do remember big hits like "Hungry like the wolf."

Riot Kitty said...

I'm right there with you, but I don't think it's a bad (or an age) thing. I'd rather read. I do love Fawlty Towers because I love British comedy, in the way some people love dessert :)

Vesper said...

A fun post, Charles! I admit I am aware of most of these, although I haven't watched any of those series except for "The Sopranos." Gandolfini was perfect in his role. Too bad that he died so young, at 51.
Movies are my other love so I like to be up-to-date. I take a quick look at every day and I read "Entertainment Weekly." This is a serious magazine with news and reviews for movies, books, music, theater, with interview and articles on directors, writers, actors.... Inevitably, little pieces of "juicy" gossip do sneak in... :-)
But, these are out times, aren't they? I embrace them...

I'm very much looking forward to your next post. :-)

Greg said...

That was hilarious! You could turn that into a weekly column. I don't think you're missing much, except that The Sopranos and Breaking Bad are two amazing shows. But not watching them I'm sure hasn't affected you negatively. The less TV the better.
- Greg

ivan said...

It seems adolescence is way too prolonged in America and here in Canada.
We still care about Joe Cocker, and Woodstock and Nirvana long after important cultural events and performers are gone.
The good songs seem to last forever, though the writer dies, certatinly in the case of J.J. Cale and his "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" as it was performed by Eric Clapton.
We prolong our adolescence well into our thirties and forties, still caring about artists and groups by now as old as we are. Take the Stones!
And by now, who hasn't heard of Snooky, from a show some comedians refer to as Jersey Whore.

This kind of prolonged nostalgia is probably due to todays's songs and much of television as being lagely crap.
But why do we remain teenagers for so long?

Charles Gramlich said...

Riot Kitty, Lana likes British Comedy as well so she has probably seen it.

Vesper, Lana gets on IMDB all the time and tells me all kinds of things about the movies we watch or are watching. I think they generally go in one ear and out the other, but I have used it a time or two myself.

Greg, like I say, I'm sure I would have enjoyed some of these shows. It almost has to be a perfect storm of timing, interest, availability, etc in order for me to get involved with a TV show.

Ivan, I don't know. Good question. People want to be cool, I guess, and/or relevant. Much of this stuff really isn't relevant to anything.

Erik Donald France said...

It's amazing how much you can pick up just by osmosis. Pretty good canvassing -- like the advance team for an alien invasion. . .

G. B. Miller said...

Not out of touch at all with pop culture, although it pains me when I have to explain certain things to my younger co-workers who can be out of touch with older pop culture (as opposed to the younger), with my post last month about Bob Ross being a prime example.

Rick Robinson said...

I have seen some episodes of CSI Miami (years ago) but otherwise am missing, if that describes it, the same things as you. I don't care. I know lots of things Kardasian-fans don't have a clue, such as who is Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, David Eddings and the list is very long indeed. These days I find I'd rather read than stare at the tube. I listen to some contemporary music, but most of the time my listening is classical and jazz, so I don't recognize the names of nor personnel in rock groups. So what, I say.

Rick Robinson said...

Oh and Snooky is a game you play with a cue and balls, similar too pool.

jodi said...

Charles-that is probably the funniest thing I've ever read that you wrote! Stay blissfully ignorant. With the exception on Law and Order, you ain't missin'a thing, dear!

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, absolutely. That's true popular culture when it comes to you that way.

G. B., I'm more familiar with older pop C. During the Star Trek years.

Richard R., I recognize the names of some contemporary rock bands but wouldn't know the personnel.

Jodi, glad you enjoyed. :)

SzélsőFa said...

I think you know the basic and most important items. And that is a fair share of what one worth knowing of today's culture.
Cheers from someone just as blissfully 'ignorant'.

Travis Cody said...

I don't know if you meant it to be, but this essay was hilarious.

I did know who James Gandolfini was. I'll always remember him as one of Gene Hackman's officers in the movie Crimson Tide.

I watch Castle, but that's the only show of the ones you named that I know. I watch because of Nathan Fillion, who was Cap'n Mal in Firefly.

I still say cool and awesome, which is what we said in high school. And sometimes I still say cheezlouise and neato, because that's what I said when I was a little guy.

So yeah, I guess I'm just about as out of touch as you are. And I'm OK with it.