Cultural Touchstones for American 20-yr-olds

Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:34 am
My husband's a professor. He teaches a fairly dry subject at the introductory level (read: huge classes, 200+ people). He's made a practice of sneaking in pop-cultural references just to keep things interesting. It started with Spongebob -- Sozlet would watch it while she was getting ready for school and he was getting ready for work, and he'd start using references to that in examples, quizzes, etc.

We're all kind of tired of Spongebob though (we've seen the old ones 3,000 times each and the new ones suck) and it seems generally over, pop-culture-wise. He's looking for new material -- stuff that these 20-yr-olds would recognize without being dangerous.

For example, when I suggested Obama stuff ("Yes we can," whatever) he said that a) it's too hard to make fun of him and b) he has to stay non-political/ non-partisan.

Last year I gave him LOLcats and he's used that. (Especially in written stuff like exams.)

I just suggested Project Runway ("You may leave the runway," [he brings people up on 'stage' for various participation thingies] "Make it work").

He wanted something a little more macho and I suggested World of Warcraft. I know nothing about it but I see references a lot and seems macho.

Just a selection to give you some ideas.

We're not going for stand-up comedy material here -- I think an element of why this works is that the kids appreciate that their 40-yr-old professor is trying to be hip, even if he looks even nerdier while doing so. Smile
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Frank Apisa
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 09:45 am
Variations on "Elvis has left the building."
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Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:00 am
"Family Guy" is a hoot. Little Stewie would give enough ammunition for years to come, and then there is Quagmire Laughing
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Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:05 am
Do you ever look at the Beloit College mindset list? They make one every year. I think it's fascinating. Here's the list for this year's incoming freshmen:

Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
Their parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce “tax revenue increases.”
Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.
All have had a relative--or known about a friend's relative--who died comfortably at home with Hospice.
As a precursor to “whatever,” they have recognized that some people “just don’t get it.”
Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Mickey in Orlando.
Grandma has always had wheels on her walker.
Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.
Haagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.
WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.
The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.
Students have always been "Rocking the Vote.”
Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.
We have always known that “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
There have always been gay rabbis.
Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.
College grads have always been able to Teach for America.
IBM has never made typewriters.
Roseanne Barr has never been invited to sing the National Anthem again.
McDonald’s and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
They have never been able to color a tree using a raw umber Crayola.
There has always been Pearl Jam.
The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 EST.
Pee-Wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.
They never tasted Benefit Cereal with psyllium.
They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
Authorities have always been building a wall along the Mexican border.
Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia.
Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.
Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the U.S.
Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone.
Their parents may have watched The American Gladiators on TV the day they were born.
Personal privacy has always been threatened.
Caller ID has always been available on phones.
Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.
The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.
They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
Soft drink refills have always been free.
They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about “nothing.”
Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.
The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.
The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
98.6 F or otherwise has always been confirmed in the ear.
Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist promoting prostate cancer research.
Off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited.
Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.
There have always been charter schools.
Students always had Goosebumps.
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Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:07 am
All your base are belong to us.

When one posts to Twitter, it is called a tweet.

"I don't have an RSS feed, so listen now for the information you need."

Don't tase me, bro!

Batman references. "Why so serious?" Maybe kinda creepy, though.

Numa Numa

Fail, epic fail

Win, for the win, (FTW)


Princess Bride. ("Inconceivable!")

Lost. (5 9 16 17 24 43)

Harry Potter.


Battlestar Galactica. (Maybe too obscure. Could use names, "Boomer", "Starbuck", "Apollo")

Finding Nemo. (Sharkbait, "Just keep swimming...", "Duuuuuude!")

Men in Black. ("We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we're aware of.")

Napoleon Dynamite ("You ever take it over any sweet jumps?")
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:09 am
Might want to avoid the "All your base are belong to us."

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Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2009 10:47 am
Shows on Adult Swim like Robot Chicken push the envelope as to what is acceptable to broadcast on television. They're rife with cultural touchstones that 20-yr-olds could identify with. These shows specifically target their demographic.
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