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Pop Culture References

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HeinekenMan, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I stopped reading GQ, but at least until recently it had a monthly item called, "GQ Regrets," an item with a photo of some hideously ugly men's fashion that GQ had, years earlier, pimped to its audience. That's what I think of sometimes when I see a reference to something that's a blip on our consiousness. Not sinful, but there's probably an analogy that's more universal.
  2. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    And that analogy might even come from popular culture :)

    Oh, and the other operative phrase there... "I stopped reading GQ"
  3. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    Back when there were only three television networks and music was basically limited to what was played on the radio, most people shared the same pop cultural background, and references to same were usually widely understood. Today the proliferation of pop culture choices mean that when you use such a reference one you probably exclude more readers than you include - sometimes that may be desireable, but mostly not. I think if you use a pop culture reference, you have to consider those consequences, and that's good reason to steer away from them.
  4. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    That's a very good point. If you're writing for "VIBE", consider me excluded. And happy to be excluded. If you're writing for a newspaper, the rules are different.

    And that's one of the reasons why ESPN Magazine is borderline unreadable.

    Reading that is like watching someone drive a stick-shift for the first time.

    Lunge. Stop. Stall. Start up again. Lunge. Stop. Stall . . .
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I wish you were kidding. I'm sure you're not.
  7. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    The trouble with references to pop culture is that at some point in their life, almost everyone stops being part of it. In my case, that was around 1980. For Bill Simmons, it was around 1991. Thus, pop culture references literally make your copy get old.
    Sad to say, I had more arguments with the Herald desk about history and literature references everyone should have learned in high school than anything else. The assumption readers don't know anything is as dangerous as assuming they share your precise frame of reference.
  8. "Hu Na.
    Na. Na. Na. Na.
    Hey, hey.

    Took me four tries, dammit, but I got it into the paper one day when the SE as on vacation.
    (Cue wicked laughter)
  9. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    now THAT's a good point
  10. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member


    That's exactly what I meant to express. And you did it with much more humor and far fewer words.

    I have to agree that there are times to break rules. But a lot of guys prefer to skip that part about knowing the rules. The sentiment about somebody using pop culture references simply because they've seen them in the copy of great reporters is dead on. That's a mistake.

    Also, let's not forget that some of these references take the form of slang. I'm cool with those folks who rail against the use of sports slang such as walk-off homer and dime and on and on. I just hope they're not suggesting that sports slang is a no-on in a sports story but that hip hop slang or a movie reference is okay.

    Now, all that aside, you seem to be making some kind of statement about my personal style. Hey, it might be the cheapest convertible available in the United States, but all the ladies smile at me as I pass by in my Ford Focus.
  11. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    There are quite a few widely accepted pop culture references. Particularly Rocky. I'd avoid Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang etc... although few would dispute that Mr. T. defines 80s pop culture.But generally you mention Rocky and people know you refer to Sly's boxer. But some may also associate it with a squirrel and a moose. Games like "Wheel of Fortune" etc. I don't know that's there any true line between when something becomes accepted or just pop culture reference. If we study the development of our language, we all probably use common phrases and words that at one time were just pop culture references.
    I don't mind using them, I would approach with extreme caution. Is the reference easily definable? Not by you and the rim or the 5-6 guys you go grab a beer/play poker with. (Chris Ferguson...poker world known as Jesus, Jesus outside poker world is known as Jesus).
    We have a prime example of what I mean posted here:

    There have NEVER been just three networks. NEVER. But most everyone knows this refers to the big three: CBS, NBC, ABC. DuMont has come and gone, NET (I think that's what it was...the precursor to PBS) has as well, and PBS has been around for ages. PBS isn't grouped because the affiliates don't really have to follow a set schedule, there's no commercials (supposedly) and the whole operation is worked differently.
    But let's face it PBS likely has some of the most commonly accepted icons: Mr. Rogers, Kermit, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, etc...

    And then there's our hedlines. Gotta love the hedline writers. We can bark down on copy and pop culture references but our hedlines will add them all the time. Rather they be good, bad or ugly.
    Best example I can think of is back mid 90s...Detroit Red Wings....saw this hedline pop up in several papers: Osgood as it gets.
    Regardless of if you like the hedline or not, who here doesn't get the reference?
  12. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    Good, Bad or Ugly
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