Pop Culture Gems I Want To Talk About Now

The window for talking about a cultural occurrence is too small.

When the song “Bad Romance” exploded into everyone’s brain space in 2009, I had a joke in my stand up comedy act about it almost immediately. I did that joke for a very successful few months. Then, the song was no longer relevant and I stopped doing the bit. A year later, I suspected enough time had passed to bring the joke back. It worked again. “Bad Romance” had come full circle.

But what if you miss something and then, no one wants to talk about it with fresh enthusiasm?

Jim Gaffigan, another (better) comedian, has the perfect joke about this, where he says he watched the 1995 film Heat and then, wanting to discuss it, asked a friend if they’d seen Heat. The friend scoffed, “Yeah, like ten years ago.”

Gaffigan pouted, “But I wanna talk about it noooow.”

Whereas Steph lamented loving hot items long after they’ve cooled, I didn’t even get to like these gems when they were hip. Steph never left the boat at the end of the cruise. I missed the trip entirely.

(SPOILER ALERT) Does anyone wanna talk to me about these things?

Twin Peaks, 1990

My friend Charlie spent YEARS trying to convince me this surreal show was the tits and I resisted like a darn fool. I’m in the middle of season two right now. Holy Log Lady! It’s pretty great. The distinctive fashion, the cool David Lynch-ness, the gorgeous ladies, the quirky characters, the intrigue and mind-melding, Agent Dale Cooper and his fine self. Mmm.

I have so many questions! What’s the deal with Black Lodge? Is Windom Earle gonna get Dale? Why haven’t they killed off Lara Flynn Boyle? Is BOB a real person or an evil spirit? Did you know Kyle MacLachlan was in Showgirls? Will Dale and Audrey ever make out?! I wish I could have watched Twin Peaks while it was still on the air, with the rest of the equally-as-clueless populace.

It’s no fun telling the Dunkin Donuts employee she makes a “damn fine cup of coffee” when all she does is give me a blank stare back.

Firefly, 2002

Speaking of TV shows that were cancelled too soon: Finally watching Firefly explained SO much about the Internet. I had no idea Jayne Cobb coined the meme, “I’ll be in my bunk” and I’m kind of embarrassed about having used it without knowing.

Plus, I am waaaay late to the Joss Whedon party. I know, I know, I basically don’t deserve to be on this planet. Drop me off on Triumph, orbiting the brown dwarf Heinlein. I belong with those hill people.

Talking points: How about the loose ends that’ll never be tied up? The Mal and Inara storyline or what the blue hand people did to River or the UNTIMELY KILLING OFF of one of the more awesome characters (NO SPOILERS) in the followup movie, Serenity.

Seriously, Whedon. How could you kill him off like that?? Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.

The Shining, 1980

One winter break from college, I spent the whole time on my living room couch with the flu. To pass the time, my mom went to the public library and got me Stephen King’s entire canon. I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading Carrie under the covers. I never thought words could inspire such spine-chilling fear.

That same week I watched The Shining for the first time, and then I went back to college. To film school. And tried to talk to the students there about The Shining as if it were a new thing.

I referenced it so much (excited to finally be getting the jokes everyone was making) (REDRUM!) that people were all like, “Did you JUST see The Shining or something? Why do you keep bringing it up?”

No. Jeez. Can’t a girl jabber on about Scatman Crothers all the time without everyone getting on her case?

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, 2005

I was writing a piece about great music documentaries recently and I realized I’d never seen one of the most critically acclaimed films in the genre, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

Man, did watching this make me nostalgic for when Chappelle’s Show was on the air. It feels like a different time, doesn’t it? A time before Mind of Mencia tried to fill that gap. We were innocent and fresh-faced then. We repeated catchphrases that, if we were white, were probably racist. We pretended to slap people, yelling “I’m Rick James, bitch!” We were so young.

Mostly, I’d love to chat about the adorable couple in the weird staircase house. They were delightful.

The Lincoln Assassination, 1865

If I had a penny for every time I’ve cried in public while reading about the Lincoln assassination, I’d have too many reminders that John Wilkes Booth was an asshole. TC mark

image – Amazon


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  • Alicedanslalune

    OMG TWIN PEAKS! I completely get you. I was like that foreveeeer, and I need to watch it again. Then we can talk about it! It would be great, yes it would.
    But I don’t wanna spoil it for you, so I won’t answer your questions, you should definitely find out for yourself!

  • http://twitter.com/ktbenj Katie Benjamin

    Haha, love it, and I know exactly where you’re coming from.

    I will talk to anyone about Twin Peaks any day, any time. There’s been a small revival of Peaks enthusiasm since they released it on Netflix (which is when I finally got my opportunity to fall in love with it), so there’s a chance you’ll someone who is just as excited about it as you are. 

  • ekorris

    I will talk about Twin Peaks with you anytime! I LOVE it and have now watched the entire series all the way through 3 times. I saw it for the first time about 2 years ago. Everytime I finish the last episode (which I hate how it ends!) I’m so sad that it over and so far in the past. *sigh*

    • Anonymous

      The worst is hearing so many people say they hated the last episode and I’m like, waaaah! I want to like everything! :(

  • Greg

    im with you on Twin Peaks. i just started season two wondering how i’d been so oblivious to such an incredible show for sooo long. the only upside is i do have someone to talk about it right now haha

    pop culture reference points expire way too fast these days, everything becomes old news as quickly as it began. thank you for being one of the brave souls to keep bringing up the old shit.

  • Anonymous

    I still haven’t seen Titanic, Jaws, Terminator, Gremlins, Freddy Kreuger, Saw, Halloween, Avatar, Harry Potter, Rambo, Rocky, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, The Fugutive, The Lord of the Rings, Casablanca, The Godfather, Pretty Woman, Schindler’s List, Speed, Apollo 13, Fargo, Apocalypse Now, Aliens, Predator, The Shining, Heat or basically any big time movie because I was super broke growing up and not in the habit for going to the movies / going to Blockbuster, and I’m probably never going to get around to seeing them now because if I learned anything from watching Inception recently, it’s that people are apparently offended that it took you this long to get onboard, and will repay your questions about “WAIT SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE GUY–” with scorn.

    • Anonymous

      Oh god. Inception is one that I had to see when it was big because the best part was discussing it with people. Then you just kind of miss out on what made it awesome. I’LL TALK ABOUT INCEPTION WITH YOU, JACK.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Andlikethecatihaveninetimestodie Heather Mckown

      I’ve seen all of them, except Avatar, and in my opinion none of them were any good (except for the shining) but i saw that when i was six because when my dad was a teenager he worked at the ski lodge where it was filmed, so he was very excited about showing my twin sister and me.  We wrote redrum all over the place when we were young. 

  • Audrey

    You you know there’s a Firefly comic book, right? That picks up where Serenity left off? Yeah. You should get on that.

    • Anonymous

      AUDREY HORNE, THANK YOU. I did not know that. This is great news.

  • alllisson

    I was Rick James for Halloween this year.  I ran around saying “I’m Rick James, Bitch!”  and slapping people.  

  • Internetstranger

    I watched Firefly for the first time when I was maybe 16, cruising into it with the momentum of all my friends liking it, and thusly very much liked it myself in the way that 16-year-olds do.

    A few months ago I was talking to a good friend of mine about a pilot we were shooting and he asked, jokingly, what my favorite T.V. show was, and I asked him the same, and he said “Firefly.” I said, “Huh, I haven’t seen that in years, I should watch it again.”Holy shit, that show is awful. Whedon’s writing (moment-to-moment dialogue, larger plotting, all of it), most of the acting, the basic characters. The fucking treatment of women, and the way it seems to present itself as being pro-feminism. I’m not gonna rag on the show for its production values, because those are mostly out of its control, but even the stuff that the show can control is unbelievably bad. I had remembered it as being so much better.

    Some parts of Twin Peaks are totally great, but a lot of it is also very bad. I watched it for the first time over the summer, and it gets very, very bad at the point that everyone agrees it gets bad (and has its fair share of bullshit before that). I’m a little curious why people like it so much, and to what degree that fandom is self-perpetuating. With Firefly, I might not like it, but I understand what parts of it are attractive (snark! spaceships! cowboys! snark! Whedon!) even if those parts aren’t whatsoever attractive to me. Twin Peaks, I don’t hear very many good explanations of why people personally enjoy it, and I think there’s a lot of confusion about what parts of it are good. It’s the same with Blue Velvet–everyone loves it, an appreciation of it is worth a lot of bourgie currency, it’s on everyone’s Facebook movies, but it’s so, so rare to hear someone speak lucidly about it. Mostly, there’s a lot of quoting and winking at one another.

    I think the same could be said of Lynch as a directior, that he doesn’t entirely understand what parts of his own work are interesting. That’s how you end up with things like Fire Walk With Me, or every single plot involving James Hurley. I’m not blaming Lynch for not kowtowing to what other people’s ideas of merit, but a lot of his stuff does end up very boring or facile.

    • Anonymous

      I’ll agree ‘Firefly’ isn’t the best at portraying women. Then again, Joss Whedon kind of continually has that problem. The show definitely isn’t a feminist work (as much as he’d like to have us believe it is) but I just look at it as fun and explosion-y and action-y and snarky – like bubblegum. I don’t understand anyone attaching more to it (though I guess Whedon encourages that in his fans without ever really being able to back it up). I never really understood what Inara saw in Mal, for instance. But I chose to look at it like Mal is not a hero and not a good guy. I find it strange when people root for him as one because he’s super problematic as a character. Mainly I like River and her journey and the sillyness that’s it. Funny that you liked it at 16 and not now – I see it as a show you definitely grow out of. Perhaps it’s fitting it didn’t last longer than 1 season. I would have liked to see season 2 but beyond that, I don’t know that I would have been into it.

      As for Twin Peaks, I actually liked FIREWALK WITH ME. I saw it before I saw the series (I know, what) and I enjoyed it and its weirdness. I thought it was unique and not boring and a fascinating look at the mind of a teenage girl in a fucked up small town. I think season 1 of Twin Peaks is pretty flawless. Plus, a lot of what went wrong wasn’t Lynch’s fault, from what I understand the network and the actors pressured him away from stuff he wanted to do.

      • Internetstranger

        By and large, just for context, I agree with most of what you’ve said here. I do think that Firefly has a place as a fun show, and I don’t mean that as a negative, but I do mean it as a limitation. A lot of the ways in which it’s fun are pretty inoffensive. The only thing that actually irritates me is Whedon’s writing–I have the sort of palpable distaste for snarky, quirky dialogue that one reserves for all the stupid things one liked in middle school.

        I’d definitely agree that a lot of what went wrong isn’t Lynch’s fault. I do think it’s problematic, however, to let that exonerate him from criticism. The same flag is waved in defense of Whedon, Arrested Development, etc. Yes, Lynch was under pressure to etc. Yes, he had to compromise his artistic vision. That’s life, though. In truth, we have only the barest idea of what went on between Lynch and the network, and there’s this disturbing tendency on the part of the fanbase to say that everything good was the product of Lynch and everything bad was the product of the network, which is groundless nonsense.
        The first season was pretty flawless, yes. What’s interesting, though, is that it already had a lot of the elements that became enormous flaws in the second season. This is sort of what I mean about Lynch’s lack of self-awareness. Take the soap-opera stuff with Hurley in the first season. Lynch legitimately loves that stuff–not as a commentary on Americana, not as tropes to be exploded, but in an immediate, lizardbrain way. He gratified his admiration for it in Twin Peaks. In the first season, that rote, sentimental bullshit works because it’s offset by the stuff that is legitimately interesting, and so becomes more interesting by contrast. In the second season, though, Lynch gave that stuff more space, and it became straight idiotic.

        Obviously, I think Lynch is enormously talented. He’s repeatedly expressed that he doesn’t want to have an understanding of his own desires or impulses, though, and sometimes that produces perfectly balanced products (as in season 1), and sometimes that produces zzzzzz

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

    Jesus Christ, you don’t talk about Firefly? What friends do you have? 

    In almost any conversation about televised science fiction someone excitedly mentions Firefly, everyone goes OOO and wanks off about how amazing it was, then one guy awkwardly points out he hasn’t seen it yet, and then everyone moves on.

    See also, Dr Horrible. 

    (Of course, Firefly is pretty great television, but that’s rather besides the point)

    • Anonymous

      Nothing makes something more magical than when it’s cut down “too soon.” Firefly is the John Lennon of shows.

      • http://twitter.com/kdigilio Kate Digilio

        See also: Bryan Fuller :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=51305547 Jason Dugger

    Gaby, I was 16 when Twin Peaks came on the air.  My friends and I were so excited and perplexed all at once that the man who gave us “Blue Velvet” was getting a show on ABC.  Me and my best friend were on the phone with each other (yes, pre-gchat) as we watched the two hour pilot that literally blew our fucking minds.  I’m not using hyperbole when I say it was apparent that TV was never going to be the same.  We were very upset when the killer wasn’t revealed after season one, but when they were I still count it as one of the most disturbing episodes ever broadcast on primetime, Big 4 networks.  The subsequent merchandise was odd (Jennifer Lynch’s “The Diary of Laura Palmer), but I loved it.  I have to say “Fire Walk with Me” is a different animal all together and the second half of season two is a little too pretentiously weird.  But for a moment, us freaks and art fags and outcasts had a show that pop culture embraced.

  • Jordan

    I was 4 when Twin Peaks aired, so I obviously didn’t watch it. I just watched both seasons within the last month or so and LOVE IT. I did hate the follow-up movie “Fire Walk With Me,” but of course watched it anyway. I wish I could LIVE in Twin Peaks. The beautiful town, interesting people…everything about it appeals to me. I am going to visit a friend in Seattle this summer & make the drive over to where it was filmed! :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    I’ll post my comment in a couple years.

    But for now, I’ll just say this; if I were in Ford’s Theatre in 1865, Lincoln would still be alive today!

  • Jenny

    Firefly and Serenity are both held in high esteem at my house. I absolutely LOVE it! We quote the outtakes from Serenity all the time (which, btw, are hilarious!!). I love the quirky, quick-witted banter and the general silliness (salutes for all you HIMYM fans).

    I am always up for talking about Firefly, Gaby. Always. 

    Also, my friend just got a huge movie poster of the avengers and got it personally signed by Joss Whedon at Wondercon. so epic.

  • http://twitter.com/JonTargaryen Carly Fowler

    In 10th grade, I was home schooled for a few months due to illness. My mom convinced me to watch Twin Peaks. OH MAN. WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THIS? Oh wait, they do. I fangirled in silence. 

    Thanks to illness, I’m now getting into Firefly. What else have I been denied?

  • best guest

    I once told a barista that I wanted my coffee “blacker than a moonless midnight.” She didn’t get it. 

    • Guy

      “Blacker than midnight on a moonless night,” I believe.

  • http://twitter.com/kdigilio Kate Digilio

    *Serenity spoiler-ish:*

    When the, uh, character dies, did you take into point how he died? Despite it being a space epic it’s a wooden stake to the heart for him. An homage to Whedon’s chef d’oeuvre.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, I love that.

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/10-tv-pairings-that-should-have-hooked-up/ 10 TV Pairings That Should Have Hooked Up | Thought Catalog

    […] 6. Audrey and Dale – Twin Peaks […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/10/10-tv-pairings-that-should-have-hooked-up/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] 6. Audrey and Dale – Twin Peaks […]

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