J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

Pop Culture Required Reading

Last week, I took my kids to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins (they liked it).  During the previews, we saw this trailer…

My kids laughed and became excited for the new Chipmunks movie, but I had to wonder – did the studio really expect fans of the Chipmunks to be familiar with Titanic?

It turns out that my 9 year-old daughter HAS seen Titanic (she saw it a few days later), but she’s one of the few preteens I know who have seen the movie. Her older brother has not (heck, it’s a long film).

Obviously the “I’m the Kind of the World” scene is iconic, but I wonder what other pop culture scenes and references should kids be expected to know? As a fan of Family Guy and Robot Chicken I see many of the things I grew up with regularly referenced, but those shows are aimed more at my generation. What are kids expected to know?

In trying to think of some “must know” characters, catchphrases, and bits of dialogue I found that most my first thoughts are probably past their period of relevance:

  • Dr. McCoy’s “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a ________”
  • The Terminator’s “I’ll be back”
  • The classic Shatner-speech-pattern parodies
  • The haunting music from Jaws
  • Bond’s “Shaken, not stirred”

I haven’t seen Cars 2, but I understand it has a Bond-type character. How Bond-y is it? Does Pixar expect most kids under 10 to know the Bond-isms, or are they there for the adults (in which case, I don’t consider it to be what I’m talking about)?

The Fairly OddParents cartoon regularly drew upon other pop-culture characters: Dark Laser is clearly a Darth Vader reference, the April Fool is very Seinfeld-ian, Catman is played by Adam West in a clear reference to the original Batman TV show, and many more. Are those for the kids or the adults?

I’ve started giving my son some classic literature to read: Gulliver’s Travels, The Time Machine, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth. He loves it and it will help him better pick up on the many references in current movies, books, and TV.

He’s been exposed to Godzilla, Star Wars, and Star Trek. I will try to bring in the first 2 Terminator films later this year.  We watch old game shows on GSN and lots of old TV through Netflix, Antenna TV, and TVLand. Overall though, I’m not sure where else to turn.  He’ll get some Edgar Allen Poe in school (I hope).

How important is it that he see Ferris Beuller and Better Off Dead? They’re great films, and he’s going to see them before he sees Titanic.  Maybe in Chip-Wrecked they’ll have a scene where Simon stands and stares at a painting whlie a Smiths song (covered by the Chipmunks, of course) plays in the background.

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