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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rambling about Pop Culture References

Last night I was reading a book where the hero and heroine were talking about seeing “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest.” It was a throwaway reference, not integral to the story, yet it yanked me right out of it.

I’m 8 years older than these characters, and I haven’t seen that movie. My dh, who is a year older than me (today – happy birthday, honey!) saw it, but on Showtime when he lived at home.

Over 20 years ago.

You may think I’m going on and on about this, and probably a lot of you out there who are younger than me HAVE seen this movie. Heaven knows, I’ve had a pretty boring and sheltered life.


I shouldn’t have had to stop to think about it.

I stop to think when characters younger than me mention June Cleaver. I know, I know, Nick at Nite. But a more appropriate reference to someone in that age group (30s) would be Marion Cunningham.

Have you seen Rumor Has It with Jennifer Aniston? Cute movie, but the whole time I was wondering, why does it take place in 1996? (I think that was the date, around there.) I got that we didn’t want Kevin Costner’s character to be, what, 60, if the story took place in 2006, but I kept looking for inconsistencies in the fashion and the technology because it was made today but set ten years ago….

I’m weird, I know.

So the question is, now that I’m growing older than most of my characters (though I’m exactly the same age as Gabe in Hot Shot – when I first started writing it, 40 seemed SOOO far away), how do I keep references appropriate to them? I mean, my first concert was Journey, my first R-rated movie was Werewolf of London, I lived to watch Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights. Such a little thing such as a reference to a movie or TV show or song can have a reader questioning.

Or maybe I’m the only one who stops and does the math.

Am I? Please tell me I’m not alone!


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous mary beth said...

You are not alone. I don't know the key to staying current. It helps that I teach high school, but even that isn't enough. Magazines, MTv, I don't know. Maybe that helps people stay current.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I struggle with this most when I'm writing YA. I have to either watch the TV channels or read magazines aimed at that age group to get the fashions, music, slang (or you can make up your own slang; that way it won't go out of style).

Oh, and I hear you on the Dukes of Hazzard. :)

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Kiki, aka Esri said...

I just leave references out. It's too likely to have the result you're talking about.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Charity said...

I started to reply but realized I had my own blog entry on my hands. Great topic!

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...

Mary, I do the exact same thing. And in Rumor Has It, every time they pulled out some ridiculously huge cell phone or talked about the internet being "the next big thing", it threw me. Until I remembered that the movie was taking place in 1997.

Here's why they did that: since the book The Graduate had a firm date in 1962, Jennifer Aniston's character had to be born about then too. So if the movie had taken place in 2006, she would have been 44 years old, and according to Hollywood that is just too old for the heroine of a romantic comedy. (For Kevin Costner to be 60, however, was apparently A-okay.)

At 7:23 AM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

I'm with Esri, I think it is best to leave out the time-sensitive cultural references.
I once made a comment to my 25 y o daughter that I didn't know how someone her age could complete the crossword puzzle I was working on, there were so many cultural references she would never know. She rolled her eyes at me and said people her age wouldn't be doing the crossword puzzle.
I'm not sure that's true.
Another beef - I once, years ago, read a book that described the hero as looking like Mel Gibson.(he was very handsome years ago!). I thought that was a lazy way of describing the hero!

At 5:11 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

So glad to know I'm not alone. I think the wisest thing is to stay away from the references. Actually, I'm having trouble with Hot Shot now because I refer to the Storm King fire. When I started the book, the tragedy was less than ten years ago. Now it's a dozen. If the book ever sells and gets published, well, I'm going to have to probably use a fictional fire instead.

Diane, I HATE when an author tells us who a character looks like. You're right, it's lazy, and hey, maybe I want to picture my own guy, ya know?

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Netflix is my key to staying current (and I write historicals!)...renting the DVDs of shows on TV or popular movies keeps me up to date.

The Wedding Singer is great for '80s references...and I hear the musical version is even more so. Wish I'd seen that one in NYC!

At 7:33 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

There's a Wedding Singer musical???? Awesome!

I remember the 80s very well....but my characters probably shouldn't be able to ;)


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