does anyone have an original idea anymore?

Posted: 02/27/2010 in Uncategorized

part of our immersion in pop culture is that we will throw out obscure references to tv shows, songs and movies and see who gets it. it’s sort of like having a cultural radar that can find people who “get” you.

and for me, it’s very true. if i have to explain my goofy, offhand point to someone, it kills the fun of making the reference in the first place.

a couple of weeks ago, one of my staffers accidentally turned his google buzz update into a chat with another friend. i read it, bemused by the randomness of it. later, i found out they were quoting lines from “billy madison.” sorry, haven’t seen that one enough to have caught on that they were having a cultural slingfest.

he later explained that he and his best friend “own” three of the top 10 stupidest conversations of all time.

and i got his joke.

hell, i go around quoting “national lampoon’s vacation” : “this is YOUR car…” and “Davenport!…yes, Mr. Ed….where is Mr. Griswold’s sports wagon?….i don’t know sir.”

or bridget jones’ diary, “here is the man we like to call Mr…(tits pervert, tits pervert)….uh, Fitzherbert, because…that’s his name!”

and this sort of silliness can be found on people’s status updates on facebook or twitter.

sometimes, i will notice the odd post and google the phrase, wondering where it came from. and i am bothered, somehow, because the person has kind of ripped off the phrase without attributing it.

maybe i’m being overly fussy because of being a journalist. i believe people should attribute where they find things or at least admit that they found it somewhere.

what’s most bothersome, though, is can’t we have an original thought? are we so concerned about looking foolish that it is simpler to take someone else’s words and just….steal them?

  1. Doug Hancock says:

    The “theft” of pop culture references has been going on a lot longer than we can imagine, probably as far back as there has been culture. One example that comes to mind is when the play “The Pirates of Penzance” was first a hit back in 1880 some newspaper writers began using the phrase “never, well hardly ever” with such with such repetition that their editors forbade the use of the phrase. (I wish I could recall where I read that but I can’t readily find a source for it on Google.)

    I know that if I stopped to acknowledge the sources for all of my pop culture references that I would barely get through a thought in a single night. That’s what happens when you watch as much TV and as many movies as I do. The reference material sometimes overwhelms original thought. Also, when a group of people shares the same pop culture background, pop culture references can sometimes become a sort of conversational shorthand. But, when you introduce an outsider into the conversation, they can feel awkward and lost.

    I will say this Donna, your blog always makes me think when I read it.

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