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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On being uncool

Do you ever have moments when you realize that you are absolutely without a doubt out of touch with the world?

My Achilles heel has always been pop culture. When I was a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. We didn’t even get a color TV until I was in, like, third or fourth grade. And it’s not as though I was born in the ‘50s or something; I was born in 1981. The only reason I was even aware of the popular TV shows of the mid- to late-1980s is cause I heard about them relentlessly from the other kids. My brother and I would go to our neighbor’s house to watch Silver Spoons after school, but until I discovered Saved by the Bell when I was ten or so, that is literally the only sitcom I had ever seen. According to Wikipedia, Silver Spoons was airing new episodes between 1982 and 1986, and hasn’t been regularly syndicated since the mid-1990s. Our neighbors moved away when I was, oh, I don’t know, nine or ten or so. The very latest year I could have ever watched Silver Spoons at their house would have been 1991, and I suspect that we stopped watching it before then.

In 1991, I was in 5th grade. I can clearly remember, in my last few years of elementary school, being on the playground when the “cool” kids were talking about their favourite TV shows—In Living Color; The Simpsons; Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; Beverly Hills, 90210; The Wonder Years; Married…with Children; Roseanne… the list goes on and on. I had never seen an episode of any of these shows, a fact which doesn’t bother me at all now, but at the time was highly, highly disturbing.

I remember when my entire fourth-grade homeroom class “rapped,” in unison, Vanilla Ice’s "Ice Ice Baby". All I knew was the first line, “Stop collaborate and listen.” I remember when, in fifth grade, the visiting D.A.R.E. officer was trying to choose someone in my class to do their best Urkel impression. I sat there, praying he wouldn’t call on me, as I had no idea who Urkel was or why I should be imitating him. I remember when, in sixth grade, my classmates and I in the advanced program went to Sea Camp for a week, and my group performed a sketch from In Living Color in front of everyone, and though I thought it was hysterical, I was none the wiser about who Homey D. Clown was and what “Hated it” referred to.

I was no better with music, either. As an elementary school student, I listened to the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and Simon and Garfunkel. When I was in sixth grade, Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd, and Whitney Houston finally appeared on my radar, but it was years before I could sing along with a Michael Jackson song (I never did learn all the words to any of them). Paula Abdul, Kriss Kross, the aforementioned Vanilla Ice… they all passed me by as I was singing along with Brian Wilson (and, I must confess, Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre).

To this day, I don’t pay any attention to what’s on the radio. I don’t even own one. I don’t have cable and can’t watch music videos. While I do watch TV, I mostly download stuff and watch it on my computer, allowing me to pick and choose my shows. The reality TV craze pretty much ended my need or desire to watch a lot of television.

Most of the time, I don’t mind my own ignorance of pop culture. I figure that as long as I read celebrity gossip blogs, I won’t be too out of touch. Sometimes, though, I am amazed at how quickly things change and how easy it is to be out of the loop, and I feel a little bit guilty, like I’m a bit of a “traitor to my generation” (10 points if you can name the movie that quotation is from). The songs that I listen to on my iPod that I think of as current—OutKast’s "Caroline", Usher’s "Yeah"—have been replaced by songs I’d never even heard of (Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”) before my friend Aundra told me that “her” song on MySpace is "Promiscuous". This is how old-school I am—I thought that Promiscuous was probably by Britney Spears or possibly Christina Aguilera. Now, I know that Britney is not the Pop Princess any longer, and that Christina Aguilera is too busy posing as Marilyn Monroe to sing, but when I heard the title of the song, that’s who I thought of.

I am SO not cool. (I am so not cool that "cool" probably isn't even a word that's used with any regularity by the truly with-it, except maybe in an ironic sense, the way I say "rad." Or something.)

5 Comments:

  • As the youngest of four - I think that I was drug along on the pop culture roller coaster from an entirely too young of age. It's funny though, cuz I am only 24, but now my cousins that are 18 and 19 view me as "so not with it"....maybe it's cuz I am married. Maybe cuz I am working full time - but they see me as so old and so NOT cool. Oh well...I don't have the emotional energy to keep up anyway.

    ps. The quote is from Clueless. :P

    By Anonymous ~Nin., at 5:57 PM  

  • I think everyone is uncool really. I mean even Britney is uncool, and Christina is uncool and as COOL as Paris Hilton is... she's really not that cool (As much as I like her). And the people who are cool are not "hip" on culture. It's almost the oppsite, they are anti-culture. Oh, and Christina is singing, she just directed her music video. :)

    By Blogger Aundra, at 6:34 PM  

  • Thank you library school for introducing me to my equal. (except for that whole 'i'm-not-even-close-to-being-as-crafty
    -as-you")

    arpha.org actually laughs at me (silently) when everyone around us is talking of the 'latest' pop cultural reference because he knows i'm completely clueless and he usually has to whisper to me what they're referring to. I currently don't have a TV and am glad i don't. I grew up in my own world of lip-sinking to the The Beatles' "when i'm 64" song (still love it) while everyone else was getting their mothers to take them to joey mcintyre (what was that band called?...i really should remember..) concerts.

    I am clueless and it usually doesn't bother me...usually....well at least until the whole roomful of ppl are all talking about someone or some movie or some show that i have no clue about. When that happens, i'll look for you :)

    By Blogger akd, at 7:43 PM  

  • Dude, I didn't listen to ANY music in elementary school except what my parents had playing or my friends' new kids or vanilla ice tapes. The first album I actually owned on my own was a live Bryan Adams tape I got when I was 12 I think. However, I got a Cranberries tape soon after, saving myself from totally nerdiness.

    My parents TV is older than I am and every morning in homeroom (in highschool), my generally nerdy friends used to talk about the shows they'd watched the night before and I really couldn't participate. However, I told myself that I was cooler than them...for no reason except to bolster my little ego. Whatever, I know what music I like and my favourite shows are reruns. Hahaha.

    But even I knew that song was by Nellie Furtado, not because I heard it but because I read about it in the newspaper.

    By Anonymous Lorien, at 1:29 PM  

  • WhatEVER dude. Maybe you're not up on what's new on the radio or MTV but that doesn't mean you're not cool. I don't pay attention to that stuff either...EXCEPT..check THIS out: http://www.thesuperficial.com/2006/08/07/britney_spears_shows_off_her_b.html

    You're super mcawesome. So there.

    By Blogger Kristen, at 2:52 PM  

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