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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stupid Goddamn Pop Culture Goddamn It

Hey: Pajiba has a list up called The Other Best Movie Quotes of All Time. I feel that they're a little soft-headed over there these days, and their commenters tend toward feebleness, but at least this list did its job and produced an alternate list in my head.

For instance, their obligatory 'The Princess Bride' quote was "Inconceivable!". Now, we all remember it in context...But out of context it's just a word, hanging alone in the darkness. A line that follows it works much better, in more situations: "That word you keep saying. I do not think it means what you think it means."

But of course, that movie may very well have more quotable lines than all three 'Godfather' movies put together (I myself prefer to put on my best Andre The Giant voice and say, "I don't even excercise!"), so the whole thing is highly subjective, of course. They quote 'The Big Lebowski', of course (“I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”), but hell, how can you choose?

And of course, the 'Goonies' quote you want there is "It's our time down here!", not "GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE!" Everybody knows this.

This being graduation season, teenagers everywhere are being asked to pick a quote that represents them. Quickly. This leads to some interesting choices, along with lots and lots of choices that surprise absolutely no one.
My nephew's recent graduation came with a fairly thick program, which I looked at and said, "Oh, you're coming home with me." This was the smart kids graduating class of the smart kids school, so the reading was pretty entertaining. Occasionally unintentionally hilarious, too.

I tried to break down the quotes by category, but quickly got bogged down in the definitions I'd arbitrarily made. But here's the raw numbers:

Dylan/Marley/Lennon: Nine quotes from these three warhorses of quotery.

Voice o' Authority who is Oft-Quoted: Twelve of these. I think a fair example is Abraham Lincoln. Another is Einstein, as we would all like to think that our flakiness masks our inner genius physicist.

Authors Teens Like: Fifty-Five of these. But I believe I was way too general with this one. For instance, Vonnegut counts, but does Goethe? I also may have included Shakespeare, since most teenagers are at least forced to read him in high school, and thus have ready-made quote material.

Shakespeare: Four at least. But I gotta go back and recount.

Bands We Like: Fifteen. Examples include Dave Matthews Band, Silversun Pickups...

F'n Comedians: Eight, with Mitch Hedberg popping up several times. My nephew picked Zach Galifianakis ("I would start a revolution, but I just bought a hammock.").

Inspirational Figure: Twenty-One, including both Mohandas and Indira Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Colin Powell...And I wanted a category for Helen Keller alone, but she only got one mention.

Terrible Pop Culture: Fifteen at least, depending on definition. I mean, the guy who quoted an Adidas slogan is definitely here, as is the guy who quotes a Nike ad. But does J-Lo. ("Do it well") belong on this list? Yes. Yes she does. But there are specific aspects of pop cult., and they come right after this...

Fortune Cookie/Bumper sticker/T-shirt: Three that I counted. Certainly there's more.

Fictional Characters: Twenty-Nine, and Albus Dumbledore in particular gets another Six all on his own. Dwight Schrute shows up pretty often, as does Tracy Morgan's character from '30 Rock' ("Live every week like it's shark week."). I believe I included both King Richard and William Wallace, because both quotes came from movies, as opposed to actually being attributed to them. Naturally, that wisest of fictional characters -Yoda- shows up at least once.

Asian: Eight. It's not a quotarama if we don't hear summa dat Wisdom of the Mysterious East (tm). Confucius and Sun Tzu, of course, but also Basho, which I thought was a nice choice.

Themselves, or their Parents: Five people did this. In each case, it was something obscure and specific to a moment only certain people will have in common. I may have accidentally thrown some of these in the next category, which is...

Who?: Eighteen of the quotees that I found I could not for the life of me figure out who the hell they were. Curiously, many of them said the same thing ("Is this real life?"), which is the kind of pseudo-deep thing the smart kid graduates of the smart kids school tend to say.

Anonymous: Fifteen of the quotes were attributable to no one. This is a popular manuver in quote fests, as it relieves you of being the millionth person to misattribute -say- "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," which I'm pretty sure John Cage said first, but I've seen attributed to at least ten more recent people.

Brrack!: Three kids quoted our current president.

Coooach!: Five kids quoted some sports figure, generally a coach.

Th' Bauble: In years gone by, the Bible would have gotten lots of play here. This time, it only appeared One time, and I'm not even sure if it's in the Bible. "He who hesitates is lost" is attributed solely as 'Proverb', but I'm not sure if it's in the Book of Proverbs. I just looked at that chapter of the big book, and got disgusted as usual. Basically, "Go kill everyone" is all they ever had in the way of advice in those days. Gross.

Political Figure: Twelve. This may be another one with overlap, since I definitely included Eleanor Roosevelt, but also included Abraham Lincoln, who is famous among quoters as someone who you call upon to prove your point for you, and make you right.

Artist: Six. Mostly Picasso and Dali.

Tupac/Li'l Wayne: Seven. I'm surprised that more hip hop artists weren't represented here, actually.

And for those people I couldn't really find a category for:

Herb Caen: One.

Art Buchwald: One.

Warren Miller: One. One.

And two categories I simply listed as...

Camp: One , (the 'Moulin Rouge' quote, I think) and

?: One. I gotta figure out which of these I was referencing, and what the hell I meant by either of these. Ah. Here we go: the one attributed to 'Invocation Committee, et al'

The quotes themselves should get an inventory of themes, which I haven't done yet, but let's say that some categories that suggest themselves are...

--Basically some variety of 'Don't ever stop'. A particularly virulent version of this, attributed to one Gaylynn Radke (and quoted by Tyler Radke) is, "Don't ever settle for anything." While this could be interpreted as a bold statement of resilience, I personally see it as the reason why most Americans are unhappy.

--'See what I did there?'. An example is "Why work for money when you can make money work for you?" For one thing, pseudo-clever. For another, why is this the motto chosen by someone so damn young?

--Sententious generalizations about life. This is almost all of them. Those that don't fall into the first category, that is.

--Lookit me! I'm kooky! One girl, quoting herself (for extra quirk points); "I have to turn this in today, or I don't get Skittles. Uhm...something IS a wonderful life." This is totally someone who will grow up and post a personal ad online where the headline is "Insert witty headline here," (which makes up the majority of them, actually).

--Misattributions. For instance, Portland '90's faves The New Bad Things are quoted as saying, "They've got the guns...They've got the numbers," which is not only a shitty quote for this particular venue, but also is almost certainly the New Bads quoting someone else, which they often did. And "Namaste" is not a quote, attributed to 'Anonymous' or not.

--Look Ma! No coherence! Lewis Carroll shows up several times here, and that's fine. But how do you explain the presence of "I am folded and unfolded and unfolding. I am colorblind," which is a god-awful lyric by god-awful band Counting Crows that also manages to not make a damn bit of sense.
Even Shakespeare can fall into this category: "They say the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be. God be at your table." And "We'll put on those, shall praise your excellence." See kid, just because Bill said it doesn't automatically make it wise or relevant. Remember!

And next year, I shall be quoted, and the quote will be, "See kid, just because Bill said it..."



Blogger disco boy said...

here's the answer to where "is this real life?" comes from:

i suppose that too, can be filed under pop culture.

if it was time to do it again, i'd have to choose a classic damn-near-unprintable bible quote, or at lease one that had nothing to do with school, education or good taste.

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property.

When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. . . . This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

3:17 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Whoopee! The Bronze Age! All good people everywhere must listen to its wisdom!

No but really; what a bunch of fucking psychos.

10:46 PM  

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