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Author Topic: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes  (Read 1560 times)

Tjm86

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The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« on: 27 June, 2020, 07:49:12 PM »
I'm just spitballing here but I feel a little like the shift in the cultural landscape has had a devastating effect on the power of quotes from popular culture or references.  Once upon a time everyone would quote from current shows (especially comedy). 

One of my teachers at school made the mistake of starting our mocks instructions with the statement "listen very carefully ..." to which the entire hall responded in the appropriate accent, "I will say zis only once!"  Fortunately he saw the humour in the situation.

How many times did we use quotes from Red Dwarf, Blackadder or Monty Python once upon a time and have everyone know what we were talking about?  These days if you throw out the old ".. first on the left, one cross each ..." it is more likely to draw a bemused look.

It feels a little like there is nothing that is shared widely enough to be instantly and broadly recognisable in the same way.  Granted there is little in the way of comedy worth watching at the moment but it seems like with the scale of the options available right now there are so few shared cultural spaces in the same way that there once was.

I don't know, am I getting jaded and cynical in my old age?   :(

Jim_Campbell

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #1 on: 27 June, 2020, 07:51:24 PM »
Once upon a time everyone would quote from current shows.

This is the way. :-)
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TordelBack

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #2 on: 27 June, 2020, 08:28:29 PM »
I blame Carole Baskin.

Professor Bear

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #3 on: 27 June, 2020, 09:14:20 PM »
You ever notice there's a lot of kids called Khaleesi these days?  I wonder what that's about.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #4 on: 27 June, 2020, 10:01:01 PM »
You ever notice there's a lot of kids called Khaleesi these days?  I wonder what that's about.

You know nothing, Prof. Bear.
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paddykafka

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #5 on: 27 June, 2020, 10:35:41 PM »

I don't know, am I getting jaded and cynical in my old age?   :(

I hate to be the one to have to tell you, Tjm86, but this is your inevitable future. (Though if it's any consolation, I'll most likely the be same...)  ;)

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Funt Solo

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #6 on: 27 June, 2020, 11:13:10 PM »
I thought a meme was a unit of cultural reference, but there's a whole new generation that think it's specifically some joke text on top of an image (and they'll win the long game).

« Last Edit: 27 June, 2020, 11:15:03 PM by Funt Solo »
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M.I.K.

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #7 on: 28 June, 2020, 12:32:43 AM »
"Friends don't lie."

"Wubba lubba dub dub!"

"Bat!"


Dandontdare

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #8 on: 28 June, 2020, 02:20:40 AM »

Tjm86

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #9 on: 28 June, 2020, 06:43:53 AM »
... there's a whole new generation that think it's specifically some joke text on top of an image (and they'll win the long game).


I think that this is my thing.  There's not just this shift from being able to throw some sort of instantly recognisable phrase into a conversation as a way of emphasising a point (Victor Meldrew's "I don't belieeeeve it!" is another one that doesn't quite have the power it once did). 

Is it the fact that the cultural pool is now becoming so fragmented?  Is it the way memes propagate?  Is it that actually far more socialising goes on electronically these days than physically?

 :-*

sintec

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #10 on: 28 June, 2020, 10:20:27 AM »
There's definitely an argument for the cultural pool becoming more fragmented. Everyone knew those TV tropes in the 80s and 90s because there were only 4 TV channels; less choice meant that any given quote was more likely to be instantly recognisable even across generations or cultural groups. Now with the advent of streaming and everyone picking their own TV schedule that breaks down. I very much doubt I'm watching the same telly my uncles and aunts are these days but I bet there was at least some cross over in the 90s. Add to that the fact that there's a shift towards immersive computer games as a major form of plot driven entertainment. Lots of memes I don't immediately grok seem to originate from that sphere.

Then there are the weirder corners of the internet which seem to act as breeding grounds where in jokes can develop a life of their own. I mean who would have predicted Pepe the Frog would become a mascot for right wing politics? Or that anti-government libertarians would adopt Boogaloo, a reference to Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, as slang for the coming civil war? And from there develop a flag with a Big Igloo on it? 

I have no idea why one of the rows of that flag has a red floral pattern on it but I bet it has meaning to those in the know. One's ability to parse these references seems to be the new means of gatekeeping certain cultural spaces.

JamesC

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #11 on: 28 June, 2020, 11:59:16 AM »
"Friends don't lie."

"Wubba lubba dub dub!"

"Bat!"

I think you may be overestimating the cultural penetration of these. I have no idea what they mean.

TordelBack

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #12 on: 28 June, 2020, 12:46:53 PM »
The first is Eleven in Stranger Things, the second Rick in Rick & Morty,  the third What We Do In The Shadows (I think!). Pretty high levels of penetration in the teen-adjacent market.

I don't want to get into a discussion of what an actual Dawkinsian meme is or isn't, but I don't think Monty Python or Princess Bride quotes have any more claim to be such than Easily Distracted Boyfriend or Fry Not Sure If.

I agree that the proliferation of individual screens has atomised pop-cultural consumption quite a bit, but I think that within the various generational and sub-generational bubbles the encoded meaning is going strong: it's just that it has spread far wider spatially and rather less universally chronologically.

Or to put it another way,  we're old.

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« Last Edit: 28 June, 2020, 12:54:28 PM by TordelBack »

Tjm86

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #13 on: 28 June, 2020, 02:54:20 PM »

Or to put it another way,  we're old.


TBH I'm getting that a hell of a lot.  The number of times one of my colleagues responds with .. "but I was only born in ..." is getting bloody depressing.  Mind you, having to explain the Cold War or the Warsaw Pact does tend to generate other feelings ...

paddykafka

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Re: The Death of Verbal Cultural Memes
« Reply #14 on: 28 June, 2020, 03:13:53 PM »

Or to put it another way,  we're old.


TBH I'm getting that a hell of a lot.  The number of times one of my colleagues responds with .. "but I was only born in ..." is getting bloody depressing.  Mind you, having to explain the Cold War or the Warsaw Pact does tend to generate other feelings ...

You know that you're getting on in years, when you're twice as old as the combined age of two of the other members of the D&D group that you're in. (And I'm talking people in their 20's here... :( )
« Last Edit: 28 June, 2020, 03:18:55 PM by paddykafka »