October 25, 2007

CULTURAL REFERENCES

My husband told me about this Harry Potter article linked on Instapundit and Althouse, and I found it hysterical:

Here is what I imagine the seven Harry Potter novels are about: I imagine that Harry is an orphan who had a bad relationship with his father (kind of like Tom Cruise in Top Gun or Days of Thunder or A Few Good Men or any of his movies that didn't involve Ireland). He escapes some sort of abstract slavery and decides to become a wizard, so he attends Wizard College and meets a bunch of anachronistic magic-using weirdos and perhaps a love interest that he never has sex with. There is probably a good teacher and a bad teacher at this school and (I'm sure) they eventually fight each other, and then some previously theoretical villain tries to destroy the world, and all the wizard kids have to unite and protect the universe by boiling black cats in a cauldron and throwing lightning bolts at pterodactyls. Harry learns about life and loss and leadership, and then he doesn't die. The end.

Now, I realize I don't have to guess at these details. I'm sure I could read the entire four-thousand-page plot summarized in four hundred words on Wikipedia, or I could simply walk into any high school and ask a few questions of the first kid I find who isn't smoking crystal meth.

No, you can't read the Wikipedia entry. Because if you don't know anything about the books, like I don't, then all you'll read is sentences like "Harry and Frimbleframp travel to the smigglefloop in a wimbdywhop to battle the canterstamp with a shimmelflap." It's utter nonsense if you don't already know what you're reading.

Anyway, the article is an interesting take on how pop culture brings us shared knowledge. And why you can't understand Kevin Smith if you've never seen Star Wars.

Incidentally, I saw the "Trapper Keeper" episode of South Park before Neil made me watch the Terminator movies. And I didn't get the cultural references. Once I saw the movies, I thought the episode was a lot funnier, plus I finally got the line in Family Guy where Adam West asks Meg if she's Sarah Connor.

But I still don't have any plans to read Harry Potter yet.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:21 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 This was a HUGE problem for me in Germany. I didn't know German pop culture...the Germans knew quite a bit of American pop culture, but not enough to get it all...for example, they had know idea about the VW Fahrvegnuegen commercials...those never existed in Germany. I also didn't know all their German soccer stars from the past. It got better after being there a few years, but there was still that gap.

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at October 25, 2007 04:47 AM (Ijp/q)

2 My husband has never seen Star Wars (yeah, I know, I can't get over it either). So we are playing Lego Star Wars on Xbox and he doesn't understand why he can't kill Obi Wan. So I have to compare everything to Space Balls, haha. I like to watch movies and read so I guess I am current on most pop culture, but my husband is not. So I am constantly having to explain things to him. There are a lot of forehead slapping moments in our house.

Posted by: Kasey at October 25, 2007 01:02 PM (tttDj)

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