Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cultural literacy, pop division

That young whippersnapper I tangled with the other day will probably throw his hands up in despair, but I have to pass along this ongoing thread from Hollywood Elsewhere. Let's leave Kirsten Dunst out of this: She's existed in a plastic bubble of celebrity since girlhood, has been through rehab, and I still sort of like her, even if she's no Anna Paquin (you know Anna would know this stuff). But when a 24-year-old who in the comments section purports to work for Variety acts bad-ass ignorant about not knowing the basics of Star Trek, or the identities of two Oscar winners, or even a TV show pitched at his demographic, I worry about the kind of employees Variety is attracting--unless he sweeps the floors there, but that would insult the floorsweepers. We're not talking The Seagull here, though both the play and Star Trek spotlight guys named Chekhov.

It may be that when I was a kid the culture was more homogenized--cable TV and home video were in their infancy, and you basically had three channels and a few syndicated stations to choose from. We all shared in the same things, then it all splintered in a hundred different ways, so access to the once-ubiquitous Star Trek and Citizen Kane (a staple on New York's Channel 9) faded. (Syndicated stations in New York and Philadelphia, now graveyards for sitcoms and infomercials, fed and enriched my movie habit for years.) Kids today, I don't know where they get the 411 (hip enough for you?)--but all I can say is, my daughter will know who Orson Welles, William Holden, Lee Marvin, and Admiral James T. Kirk were.

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