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At this moment, the Huffington Post’s top story is about the premiere of Keith Olberman’s new TV show. The headline: “HE’S BAA-AACK”.
Now, that line is a commonly used pop culture reference, adapting a line from the movie “Poltergeist 2″. The line was “they’re baa-aack,” which was itself a reference to the original Poltergeist’s memorable line “they’re hee-eere.” Because the scary ghosts from #1 have now returned in movie #2.
IMDB tells me that Poltergeist 2 came out in 1986, and Poltergeist 1 came out in 1982.
And today, it is 2011. So the Huffington Post’s cleverest headline is a non-funny reference to a nearly 30-year old movie quote.
Yes, part of this post is just me bagging on the HP for lack of creativity. And part of this is me wondering how media must seem to people in their teens and twenties, when it’s based on knowledge, jokes and references from before their time.
But I have to stop due to my own experience growing up.
Me, and many of my generation that grew up in the 70s and 80s, were raised on cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry. The vast majority of these cartoons that were originally created for the big screen, as filler between double-features, for adults, in the 1940s. I was raised on in-jokes, movie references, and celebrity caricatures that were often 40 or more years old. I was not sure why I was supposed to laugh at lines like “I wish my brother George was here”, “Play it again Sam” or “He don’t know me vewy well, do he?”. Eventually, they became repurposed catch phrases of their own, with me only knowing that these were things that Daffy Duck or Porky Pig said. I’m told that much of the racist humor that was acceptable in the 1940s and ignored during broadcast during my own youth, has been since scrubbed from those shows. But I can’t remember the number of times I saw stereotypical Black housekeepers, exploding bombs turning protagonists into blackface Al Jolson imitators, or falling cymbals turned characters into bucktoothed, strawhat-wearing Chinese stereotypes.
I can only imagine how the referenced and re-referenced Simpsons might have an impact on kids recently growing up, or how a highly topical show like South Park might come across in another decade or so.
No real conclusions here, just noting something kind of bizarre. I work with a number of teen volunteers at my job, maybe I’ll ask some of them about mainstream jokes and humor based on pop culture from before they were born.
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