Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Who is Robert Redford?

As you know I’m a devotee of JEOPARDY. But what amazes me more is not what these contestants know but what they don’t know. They can rattle off Egyptian mythological figures or obscure rivers in Tunisia or fourteen-letter words, but there are interesting black holes.

I base this not on wrong answers. I base this on no one ringing in. So clearly none of the three contestants were even willing to take a guess.

Now bear in mind these contestants tend to be from their mid-20’s to 40’s (although there are some exceptions). And they’re all remarkably bright.   They're not kids.  They've seemingly been around.

But…

In episodes within the last couple months…

No one knew who Robert Redford was (after being shown a picture of him as the Sundance Kid).

No one knew that the actor playing Mr. Rogers in BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD was Tom Hanks.

No one recognized Jake Tapper after being told he was an anchor on CNN.

No one knew Fred Astaire.

No one knew Billy Wilder.

No one knew Glen Campbell.

No one knew Fred Willard.

No one knew Neil Sedaka.

No one knew MORK & MINDY.

Now you yourself may not know all of these people, but you’re not on JEOPARDY. I just find it fascinating that for all the knowledge that these people have in so many areas, seemingly easy ones are blind spots. I mean, I can understand not knowing Fred Willard, but Robert Redford? Tom Hanks? If you follow the news, shouldn’t one out of three know what Jake Tapper is?

On the other hand, we live in kind of a bubble here in Hollywood. People are famous to us so we assume the rest of the world knows them. Same with shows. We just assume everybody watched MAD MEN. They didn’t. Only a tiny portion. Or FLEABAG or OUTLANDER or anything on ABC. It turns out librarians in Grand Rapids, Michigan, or math teachers in Altoona, Pennsylvania couldn’t pick Jon Hamm out of a lineup.

It’s either a good lesson in humility or the contestants they pick live under rocks.

73 comments :

Steve Bailey said...

My favorite "obscure Jeopardy" story: In the early 1970's, Alex Trebek co-hosted, with actress Ruta Lee, a short-lived game show called "High Rollers." One evening, I discovered that Ms. Lee was on Facebook, so I sent her an IM "fan letter" telling her how much I had enjoyed that show when I was a kid. She wrote me back to tell me that that very show had been the answer to a question on "Jeopardy!" one night, and none of the contestants could answer the question because the show was so obscure.

Jim P said...

There's an explanation for why no one knew Tom Hanks in Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Apparently, none of the contestants were unable to buzz in due to some sort of technical glitch. Since all three players were affected equally, it was ruled as “no harm, no foul”, and the game continued.

Aaron Sheckley said...

I'd opt more for a lesson in humility, Ken; the entertainment world isn't as important to some people as it is to others. I agree that I'm also surprised sometimes when a person in their 30's doesn't recognize a photo of Redford from Butch Cassidy, but stop and consider that that movie right now is fifty years old, and that Redford for all his talents hasn't been a huge box office name in a long time. We gauge these things based on how well known these actors were when we were in our primes, but the popularity of an actor from back in the 60's or 70's doesn't have that much relevance to someone who was born in the 90's. Unless they're a fan of classic films, I think it would be silly to expect a 30 year old to have a clue who Robert Mitchum was, or Pam Grier, or Sean Connery, or any number of other people that someone in their 60's would consider a household name. I recognize a lot of actors like Tim Holt or Henry Fonda because I'm a big fan of the kind of movies you'd see on TCM, but even another person my age might not recognize a photo of Fonda from the Grapes of Wrath; that move was almost thirty years old at the point I was born, and probably closer to fifty years old by the time I saw it.

And like I said, some people just don't place that much importance on actors, movies, and the entertainment system in general. For them, movies are disposable; they watch them and forget them, and aren't that interested in the details of them.

Troy McClure said...

If they'd been shown a more recent photo of Redford, they'd have recognized him as "the bad guy in Captain America 2."

Which reminds me of an infamous headline years ago in a British tabloid on the death of legendary Shakespearean actor John Gielgud that generated much scorn for its lack of respect but also plenty of laughs. Their headline was: "Butler in Dudley Moore film dies"

Mork said...

FWIW, the monitor on which contestants can see the video clues is off to the left of the game board just out of camera range; it's about 20 feet away from the contestants. Seeing it on your 55-inch TV in your living room is great, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, in the studio it's not the easiest thing in the world to see. Between that and actually playing the game, sometimes you don't want to take a chance on something you're not 100% on.

Anonymous said...

Flip it around by asking me questions about 21st century pop culture and I would look like a doddering old fool. I'd recognize Jonas Salk before I could spot a Jonas brother. Taylor Swift? No. Swifty Lazar? Yes. I see it even more when I do my daily crossword. For me to get Lil Wayne you'd have to spot me "Lil Wayne", yet I can name Sarge's dog from Beetle Bailey. Welcome to the 70s, Ken.

-30-

Cedricstudio said...

I would have missed a couple of these. I *think* Glen Campbell was a singer but I couldn't pick him out of a line up. No idea who Neil Sedaka is. Had to Google him. I'm 48. And I live in "flyover country".

Matt said...

The only one that surprised me was Tom Hanks, because he was the biggest star in the world during their lifetimes.

I could recognize pictures of Redford, Hanks, Astair, Willard and Mork. Maybe Tapper, Campbell and Mindy. No way with Wilder or Sedaka.

J. Allison said...

Pop culture appeals to the lowest common denominator. These folks aren't the lowest common denominator.

Curt Alliaume said...

Football was also a blind spot.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/02/582762381/jeopardy-contestants-fumble-entire-football-category-to-coach-trebek-s-dismay

Jeopardy! looks for people with broad-based knowledge--I've been told reading either the World Book Encyclopedia or Childcraft is hugely beneficial--so they tend to get very bright people who may not have the background in the entertainment industry or sports. (Not coincidentally, I've never passed a tryout test.)

VincentS said...

Not TOO upset that they didn't know who Fred Willard was, Ken.

Rob D said...

On yesterday’s episode, nobody buzzed in to identify David Lee Roth. The photo was from his heyday in the 80s.

I’ve been noticing the same phenomenon. I tell myself that the contestants are just experiencing a brain fart at the same time. There are lots of times I know the answer but I just draw a blank. Also, don’t forget they are competing in front of an audience and TV cameras.

Mike Barer said...

They have to put pop culture questions in for the audience although the world's students may not follow as much.

Timothy said...

If you showed someone a photo of Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford or Buston Keaton, no one would know them either. It's nothing new, and altogether not that surprising. I actually like this because it allows me to introduce younger people to things they aren't familiar with.

tavm said...

Well, I knew who all those people you mentioned were and are but then, I have always watched lots of TV, read books about that medium and film, and is always on the computer as I am right now...

Michael Hagerty said...

Ken: You hit the nail on the head about the size of audiences for---pretty much anything. Not just critical darlings like FLEABAG.

Look at the domestic box office for 2019. AVENGERS: ENDGAME did $858 million. That's impressive until you divide it by ten bucks a ticket. That's 85 million people. Or just a shade over a quarter of the 335 million people in the country. Factor out the people who saw ENDGAME two, three---TEN times, and it's maybe 20 percent of the country, maybe less.

Sure, some will stream it later----but still, way more people didn't see the number one movie in the country, the one that almost did a billion at the box office, the one that did $300 million MORE than the #2 film, than did.

The number one TV show in the country a lot of weeks is NCIS. Eleven million people a week. That's FOUR percent of the population.

They're still big stars, Ken. The pictures just got small (on a percentage basis).

Jeff Boice said...

Today's Jeopardy contestants are young enough to be our children, so I suppose it is all our fault for not raising them properly. I knew about old entertainers (old meaning my parents generation) because (a) it was the rabbit-ear era of TV and of the four or five stations we received, one would be airing an old movie, and (b) the folks owned one TV set and one Magnavox High Fidelity Console which meant occasionally we were forced to listen to and/or watch entertainers our parents liked.

Steve S said...

These are the same people who struggled with the "sports" and "entertainment" wedges in Trivial Pursuit. I'm sure during their formidable years, television and movies were viewed as frivolous. We're watching The Rockford Files and they're reading The Canterbury Tales. The Super Bowl promo aside, Diane Chambers comes to mind when thinking of a television character that fits this description. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, certainly. I'm almost certain, if one were to look at the Jeopardy contestants who had sustained runs, say, 5 or more wins, some knowledge of the visual arts would be there.

Steve S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Last night in a music category AND with a photo, no one knew David Lee Roth.

scottmc said...

The other day I came across something that Max Brooks posted on twitter with his dad regarding the importance of social distancing. it was informative and funny; and seeing Mel Brooks always makes me smile. it's worth checking out.

Howard Carter said...

It's one of the drawbacks of the current streaming age. We won't really have the cultural touchstones we had before. There are no "watercooler" shows anymore

CRL said...

Wasn't Mr. Rogers played by that Corona Virus guy?

Johnny said...

I believe when Ken Jennings' run came to an end he got tripped up on a category of Seinfeld questions.

Buttermilk Sky said...

In case you're not on Twitter, here's a link to the Max Brooks video:



https://mockpaperscissors.com/2020/03/17/take-mel-brooks-advice-please/

blinky said...

Who remembers Rory Calhoun or Spring Byington?

John Mazur said...

Let’s leave Wayne Newton out of this & celebrate Fred Willard’s longevity from
‘Fernwood Tonight’ to ‘Modern Family’.
& yes, there is Laughter in the Rain.

CJMiller said...

"Football was also a blind spot."

It was great watching that unfold during the game.

Even better was the first comment I saw after it was posted online: "Browns Front Office Appears on Jeopardy"

Rashad Khan said...

Perhaps, they couldn't recognize Robert Redford, on account of the fact that he looks nothing today like he did then. ;)

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here: How many people know who starred in Fibber McGee and Molly or that Glenn Ford was the hottest actor in Hollywood. Fred Allen got it right with the title of his autobiography, "Treadmill to Oblivion". And, in fairness, I don't know anybody from the past twenty years or so. Thank god for IMDB.

The one that always amazed me was when someone asked William F. Buckley about Michael Jackson and Buckley had no idea who MJ was. He did a column and a TV show about what should be considered cultural literacy. If you know the Bible and Shakespeare but don't know MJ, are you illiterate or is the opposite true? It was interesting then and that's still an interesting question.

Anyway, as always, thanks for your contribution to the culture and I hope you have enough hand sanitizer and toilet paper to see you through safely.

Keith in Kalama

slgc said...

A few weeks ago none of the contestants could name Willie Mays, even with "Say Hey" in the clue.

Watching that caused me physical pain!

Tom Galloway said...

As a trivia buff who's passed the J! test double digit times (but not gotten on) and who attends trivia events and cons...

1) J! walks a fine line with its material. The contestants are mostly under 40...but the average audience age is in the 50s or even low 60s. Do you write material for the audience, who'll know 70s actors, or the players, who'll know 10s rappers? And I don't know the average, or even just the youngest, writer age.

2) In the trivia world, there's academic trivia and pop culture trivia aka "trash". Some people are only good at one; in the college world, there's ACF where the questions at their easiest are at the upperclass course level and may hit grad level. There are also trash only events, which do change with the times; these days a packet will probably have a couple of video game questions.

3) The best players are good at both. One of O'Brien's (pub quiz for those at the J! champ level) most popular nights is the annual Oscars quiz.

Rich Shealer said...

I used to play Buzztime Trivia. Everyone in the bar playing the game has a remote console that is used to answer multiple choice trivia questions. Each question has a countdown so that you get more points by answering quickly.

As time counts down clues are given to help until the answer is revealed. If you got it wrong you scored a negative -250 points. Game over after 15 questions. All scores are ranked nationally and the top 20 bars and players of the game were listed for all to see coast to coast.

I was often amazed at questions no one got right until the last clue but to me seemed easy. And then there were the times that I thought something was unknowable but everybody got it right with a perfect 1000 points.

Anonymous said...

The analogy between 2020 to 1970 and 1970 is not a good one for a simple reason.
It was harder for people in 1970 to access movies or information from 1920.
Today anyone could access Butch cassidy or All the Presidents Men in a minute.

IT's not simply an entertainment thing - you see it in sports, politics, military history.

IT's cultural ignorance. All the things mentioned so far are symptoms.
IT's one of the worst aspects of our society.
They don't know about their history and worse they don't care about their past.
And even worse, they are proud of it.

You can paper it over any way you like but it is a terrible trend in our society to willingly forsake the knowledge and information of the past.

Rob D said...

As expected, there are many comments slamming “the youth of today” or the unimportance of pop culture knowledge. This is missing the point entirely. As Ken said, JEOPARDY contestants of all ages are supposed to have a wide breadth of knowledge. Important history and pop culture fluff, and everything in between. And for the most part, I would say most of them do. If you’re old and you don’t care who Justin Bieber is, or if you’re young and you don’t know who Buster Keaton is, well you probably won’t be competing on JEOPARDY...

Tom said...

Showing my 20-something daughter a picture of Robert Redford would be like showing me a picture of Francis X. Bushman (I looked up a star whose biggest days were decades before I was born) when I was her age. No way would I know that.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 28. She doesn't know Robert Redford.I do and I am 60. I saw Butch in the theaters when I was about 10. She also didn't know Elvis. It's all relative. However, I would love to pick Jon Hamm out of a lineup.....JaniceB.

Tom Asher said...

I hosted trivia ("Quizzo") games in Philadelphia for about 18 years. I hated when I'd ask a question and I'd get a groan from the audience upon giving the answer because "they weren't born yet" - as if all important trivia and pop culture knowledge should only exist in their lifetimes.

I'd typically then ask them if they've seen "Grease" or "Rocky". They'd always say "yes"... to which I'd reply "you were even born yet!" to "ooohs and aaahs" from their teammates.

Anonymous said...

One could make never ending lists of celebrities that someone doesn't know. What I find interesting is the huge popularity of "The Office" and "Friends" long after their production.

In my formative years, "Happy Days" was the closest we came to 20 year old culture, and it was lame.

The amount of choices we have now far exceeds the time we can spend on entertainment, so we each become "specialists" to suit ourselves. We can go way beyond just the screen and know about backstories, actors, production info, gossip, etc. Much more time and energy is devoted to entertainment than ever before.

So, what is it about "the Office" and "Friends"? Does this indicates they are the epitome of the half hour comedy? Maybe just the huge number of episodes makes them fit for binging.

Steve Carrel and Jennifer Aniston might be the future Bogart and Marilyn Monroe (of my day) in that everyone knows who they are even if they never saw their work


Anonymous said...

I just read a rundown of "The Masked Singer" history and I have no idea who 90% of these people are. They could do it without the masks and I would fail horribly.

Mike Bloodworth said...

In one of my improv classes at Second City there was a guy who told me that he wasn't into sports at all, yet he kept up with football and other sports just in case he ever got a suggestion on sports. It's a lesson I never practiced even though it would make me a better improviser. In improv, if you're good enough, you can fake your way through a topic of which you are ignorant. You can't do that on "Jeopardy." That is unless you are Cliff Clavin.
M.B.

purplepenquin said...

On yesterday’s episode, nobody buzzed in to identify David Lee Roth

Saw that as well - made me feel waaaaaay older than I should.

Pat Reeder said...

More depressing proof of our ignorance of our own culture, which is not considered cool, according to the Credibility Gap, a '60s comedy troupe most people have never heard of. Looking through these posts, I realize I must be a real outlier, since I know Robert Redford and also all the people who are waaaay before my time, like Francis X. Bushman and Marion and Jim Jordan, who played Fibber McGee and Molly (and no, I did not Google that.) Most people these days couldn't tell you who played George Burns and Gracie Allen. So, who's your favorite Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve: Harold Peary or Willard Waterman?

Now, you've got me thinking of applying to be on "Jeopardy!" Hope there's a Stoopnagle & Budd category.

Cowboy Surfer said...

damn jeopardy nerd kids...who the hell doesn't know the Rhinestone Cowboy

what are they even teaching in schools these days

Edward said...

Abbott and Costello were dead/retired for 15 years by the early 1970s but their films from 1940-1955 were broadcast every Sunday at 11:30AM on one of New York's local TV stations for years, so I was a fan before my 10th birthday.

Also, before HBO/Showtime, big-budget or award-winning films were a major event on network television. Even though the early James Bond films were nearly 20 years old by the late 1970s, early 1980s, they were featured on ABCs "Sunday Night Movie" frequently so a new generation (me) was familiar with the franchise and Sean Connery.

I believe the lack of channels (and remote control) made people of a certain generation familiar with movie or television actors even if they did not watch the film/show. Just the previews were enough sometimes.

MikeN said...

If you showed people a picture of Al Pacino from The Godfather, they wouldn't identify him because of how he looks now.

JimP gave an anecdote that makes sense, but I was going to suggest that perhaps people were thinking of the documentary from last year?

Unknown said...

That's what makes the show fun - when you know an answer and NONE of the contestants do. There was one in the GOAT tournament - "What's a keylogger"?

Ken (and anyone else who has attended a show taping) - Is it hard not to shout out the answers? Do they have to remind keep reminding the audience to be quiet?

Y. Knott said...

The Tom Hanks question was designed to air around the time the movie came out, but was pre-taped who knows how far in advance, so there hadn't really been publicity about the film role at that time. And in character, Tom really didn't look much like Tom Hanks. No surprise on that one.

Many other ones you noted haven't been relevant in decades. If you're 35, Mork and Mindy was cancelled years before you were born; Glen Campbell's career was from before your parents were even married; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was from a time when your parents were kids, etc. etc. So it's also not really a surprise that these don't instantly ring a ball with people....

And I've never heard of Jake Tapper, although I watch the news every night. His fame has not spread outside of America, I'm guessing (and apparently not that much INSIDE America, either.)

Kaleberg said...

Trivia is one thing, but popular culture is defined by a sliding window that starts in late childhood and runs into early adulthood. I'm a baby boomer, and Howdy Doody was before my time even though it was still on the air when I was a kid.

Gary said...

A few years ago I noticed a young coworker pinning up several illustrations of Superman in his cubicle. I told him I've been a big fan all my life, going back to the original Superman. He proudly told me he knew the original Superman -- Christopher Reeve. I laughed and said no, I meant George Reeves. He had no clue. I was depressed for the rest of the day.

(Yes, I know Kirk Alyn was actually the first one to play the part. But for 60-somethings, George is the original and only Superman!)

powers said...

Ken,I also think that sadly Americans are infamous for not being interested in the history of their own country as well as any other nations.

Jay Leno proved that time and time again on his late night TV show when he'd take to the sidewalk and ask history questions to random strangers with few ever getting it correct.

The segment was always played for laughs but it depressed me.

Anonymous said...

Glen Campbell is a good example of what people could find out.
He was a syrupy host of a variety show, but if you go back a decade he played guitar for the Beach Boys on some of their greatest hits and was one of the top session musicians in The Wrecking Crew, which is saying something.
Guy was one of the best guitarists of his generation, the type of things you wouldn't expect people to know, but they would really enjoy if they took the time to find out.
Take a listen to you tube to some of his solos or duets.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Similarly, when Eddie Albert died in 2005, so many reports focused on "Green Acres." NPR, thankfully, emphasized his film work.

CarolMR said...

Blinky, I know who Rory Calhoun and Spring Byington were. About a month ago, no one on the Jeopardy panel knew who Michael Avenatti was.

Breadbaker said...

I hosted online trivia games for 22 years and it was a hard thing to do to find questions that satisfied a broad and random group of players. The goal on Jeopardy is the same as in those online games and the pub trivia others have mentioned. You don't want all the answers to be too easy and you don't want too many skunks in a row or else people will find something else to do. And you want people to learn and go "oh!" when you write a question that gives them knowledge they didn't have. It's a skill. The Jeopardy question writers are pretty good at it. But they make mistakes, too. (Don't get me started again about my own appearance and former Secretary of Defense "Lee" Aspin).

Stradbroke said...

Robert Redford is a legend!

Jeff Maxwell said...

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a high school drama class about showbiz. Including me, there was a songwriter, a screenwriter and an agent. When they got to me, I asked how many of the 60 kids in attendance were familiar with MASH. Two of them raised their hands. I began to sweat. They didn’t know Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland or the three stooges. Three of them knew Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner. The experience was unraveling.

Although, not as much as this damn corona thing. And a lot of high school kids don’t know or care what it is.

Those were the days.

April Acton said...

Our 13-year-old grandson is visiting us for spring break this week. Lucas knows who Tom Hanks is -- he's pretty savvy for 13 -- and knew that Hanks had contracted Coronavirus. But when I told him that Hanks was in Australia filming a movie about Elvis Presley, Lucas asked, "Who's that?"
I was speechless. My brain spun with Elvis trivia that I could share, but in the end all I could say was "You ain't nothing but a hound dog." He looked blank for a moment, but then smiled and nodded and said, "Ohhh...Okay."
Thank God.

Barry Traylor said...

I watch the show all the time and I was amazed at some of the blind spots (BTW) I know 7 out of the 9 you posted.

Mike Doran said...

DEMOGRAPHICS

That's the word we're all avoiding.
I've been saying for years - this is the problem.
The whole idea that you can get "scientific" about the culture.
I'm a Fifties Kid.
I straddle all the transitions: hardcover books to paperbacks, radio to TV, popular music to rock'n'roll, 78s to 45s, Black & White to color, tube TVs to flatscreens, movie palaces to plexes, videocassettes to DVDs … all the others I can't call to mind just now - plus all the new stuff that I can't even figure out (and deep down, I don't want to) …

As a kid, all these things were available to me, a little at a time.
The Old, the New, the Newer - I could go back and forth, pick and choose, at my own speed.
That was the fun of it, the enjoyment - having all those choices, those options, all those people.

On September, I turn 70 years of age.
I hadn't figured on that - or what it would mean to me.
Bottom line: I DON'T LIKE THIS AT ALL.

Forgive the Old Man Talk.
I always hated "The Good Old Days" from the elders, and now I am one.
And so are all of you - or at least you're getting there …

Cedricstudio said...

Agreed. Buckley makes a great point. It’s easy to confuse popularity with significance.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Years ago, a couple of professors put together the Mindset list, in order to get straight for themselves and their colleagues what cultural references they could expect their 18yo incoming freshmen to know. It's become a huge annual deal: www.mindset.com.

One of my closest friends was 22 years old than I am, and we had those conversations *all* the time: "How can you *possibly* not know who x is?" when x was the star of some old Western or one of the serials he grew up with.

I would add that there isn't a single baseball, hockey, football, soccer, cricket, or basketball star whose face I would recognize and barely any whose name I would recognize. I know some cyclists' names, but that's purely because I'm very interested in issues around doping and have read everything available about it (which means I also know the names of Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds). People can be very selective about pop culture.

wg

Anonymous said...

Its not just pop culture.
How about Shakespeare?
other literature?
How about history?
How about art?
Military history?

Pop culture is just the most obvious manifestation.

Astroboy said...

Actually, being in your 60s and talking to those in their 20s about music is really the most depressing thing. I think the nadir for me was talking to a 20 something who had HEARD of The Beatles but couldn't name one song. Then I told them to get off my lawn and that I was keeping their ball.

Roger Owen Green said...

Two things I can say as a 1-day champ in 1998. There IS an age gap. And the monitor is damn small. I got Orson Bean, but I had to squint.

Anonymous said...

One of the things the virus epidemic is proving is that, even though we are farther along in world communications than anyone could have imagined, the gathering and processing of information and entertainment to groups and individuals is more primitive less adequate than in the days of the Pony Express.

Why? Let's look at British pop culture compared to ours. They are like a parallel universe. For every Johnny Carson, they have a Tony Hancock. Even though their shows and stars may be exchanged over the ocean to us, that is actually not the norm. Many British legends are unknown here, and vice-versa.

Now imagine that each young person of the last several years is his or her own seaprate England or America. Most of them grew up with a TV in their room if not their own cellphone. Each person watched, read and bought products created for their own age, gender and ethnicity. You can sell more products that way.

As the "content" and the platforms have multiplied, it's near impossible for a given group of people to have shared any common pop culture ground because they have been DELIBERATELY but willingly led into profitable corridors based on their group or specific needs, wants, viewpoints and tastes -- never, ever exposed to those of people right next door.

We have never been so separated, segregated and formularized in the history of humankind since before ships sailed to foreign lands. And it's all by design. We all fill out forms online to help facilitate it. We have hundreds of channels but only watch a few. We stream our own movies, or watch our own DVDs. On social media, we tend to stay within our own streams of thought and taste. That's natural and not necessarily a bad thing, but left unchecked it can be exploited because it can make other people a fortune--and it does.

This is not only tragic, it now has been exposed as deadly. The reason so many people were able to continue spreading this disease (beyond pure stupidity) is that they were hearing the info they wanted to hear from the channel CREATED TO SUPPLY IT and sell products to support it.

That, folks, is why we are split in society today. Not because of political affiliation but because of marketing, demographics and targeting that undid the efforts in the seventies to unite all of us. The message back then was that we have more in common than we have that makes us different. That doesn't sell a variety of deodorants.

Now that we have this time to reflect, the only way to change things to be aware that people are manipulated since birth by this kind of legalized separatism. If you know you are being manipulated, that's the first step towards thinking twice about whether you are really making a decision of some people in a high rise building are making it for you.

Buttermilk Sky said...

There's an episode of STAR TREK: TNG where Picard is stranded someplace with an alien whose language is entirely metaphorical (references to his own history and culture). They both speak English, like every other life-form on TREK, but communication is impossible because neither knows the other's experience. I feel like this is where we're headed. I cringe when the Jeopardy! category is hip-hop or TV shows later than SEINFELD, so I try not to pass judgment on 20-year-olds who have never heard of Jackie Gleason. And so what? We have a president who never heard of Frederick Douglass.

kent said...

Who?

David Kaye said...

GENERATIONAL: Okay, we're about the same age. "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" came out in 1969, 50 years ago.

Okay, when we were in Prime Jeopardy Years, about age 30, how many of us knew anything about the stars of 50 years previous? Okay, we're 30, so that's 1980. 1980 minus 50 years is 1930.

Here are some major stars of 1930: Ann Harding, Kay Francis, Myrna Loy, Will Rogers, Wallace Beery, Janet Gaynor, Sonja Henie, Joe E. Brown -- or radio celebs from the era: Fred Allen, Guy Lombardo, Lowell Thomas, Goodman Ace, etc.

How many would you have known when you were 30?

Andy Rose said...

Those contestants did not recognize a generic photo of Fred Astaire, but I'll bet if you gave them the name, every one of them would be aware that he was a famous dancer. He's been dead for 33 years, and his career peaked 65 years ago. By way of comparison, how many people alive in 1920 (after the end of World War I) would know anything at all about a dancer who was popular 65 years earlier, in 1855 (before the beginning of the Civil War)?

I think people actually have a larger generalized knowledge of past pop culture than they did decades ago because, thanks to recording media, it sticks around in one form or another longer. Stuck at home now, my young niece randomly discovered Green Acres for the first time and is hooked.

All that said, I agree that some of the recent contestants seem to have a slightly sub-par memory for this sort of thing. I haven't decided if James Holzhauer just spoiled us into believing Jeopardy! contestants ought to know everything about everything, or if Jeopardy! producers are deliberately choosing slightly less knowledgeable contestants in order to fix the budget hole that was probably blown open by James Holzhauer.

Jahn Ghalt said...

I'm 61 (b. NOV 1958)

Until recently, I woudn't know what Billy Wilder looked like. Ten years ago, I didn't know his best comedy.

TV News is crap (ex PBS and BBC) - who the hell is Tapper?

Reading this blog gives a sense of the Hollywood bubble - but there are "bubbles" everywhere - and they are much smaller and more specialized since Mass Culture has declined (radio being a big part, and 3-netword TV - both of which allowed my sis and I to thorougly enjoy Tarantino's 1969 love letter despite being life-long Alaskans.)

It's interesting how many say they have heard of Breaking Bad - but have seen none of it. I even have a friend who said he couldn't get into Mad Men but who went to see Avatar several times.

mike schlesinger said...

A few years ago, I encountered a 23-year-old who'd never heard of Jerry Seinfeld.

Jerry Seinfeld.

Who had the hottest show on TV when she was in her early teens.

These kids today, I tells ya...

Roger Owen Green said...

Ultimately, I wrote a response to your post.