Cultural Phenomena that completely passed you by

I don’t mean in the “I never got around to seeing Star Wars” sense, more “Things that were absolutely huge in one part of the country/world that didn’t travel”.

One of the best examples I can think of, off the top of my head, is the 1960s TV series Batman- you know the one, with Adam We… er, Adam West in it. :wink:

We were at work on our break the other week, discussing TV shows, and the conversation came around to Family Guy, and one of the girls commented she thought “The Crazy Mayor” was a really cool character. I mentioned that Mayor Adam West was actually played by the real Adam West, and got blank stares all around.

“Adam West… he was Batman in the 1960s TV series. You know, with the whole “BIFF” and “POW” things everytime they got into a fight?”

An owl hooted in the distance. Tumbleweeds rolled across the floor. Crickets chirped.

“There was a TV series of Batman in the 1960s?” asked one of the guys. “You’re making that up, aren’t you?” says another.

Turns out the Batman TV series was never screened on free-to-air TV here in Australia. Interestingly, it never got on the air in New Zealand until the mid- 1980s(!), where they were screened as first run episodes!

Batman: The Movie remains in my mind the ultimate in high-camp 1960s satire, but to get maximum enjoyment of it you need to be familiar with the TV show it was based on… and hardly anyone I’ve met here is.

Similarly, I think it came as a complete surprise to many people in this part of the world that Wayne’s World and The Blues Brothers were based on characters from Saturday Night Live (which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been on free-to-air TV here), and the reference in the film Demolition Man to the “Great Restaurant Wars” resulting in “All restaurants being Taco Bell” sailed right over the head of pretty much everyone in NZ- a country with no Taco Bells in it.

Similarly, the TV showWhat Now?- which was a Saturday Morning institution for an entire generation of kids in NZ in the 1980s and early 1990s- is totally unknown outside NZ (apparently it’s still on the air, though!), and the Australian counterpart Hey, Hey It’s Saturday similarly was relatively unknown in NZ, even though in it’s later years it turned more something closer to a comedy/variety show and was screened in the evening.

There are a number of references from the British TV show Not The Nine O’Clock News that, like Monty Python quotes, are completely lost on anyone who isn’t a fan… “Wild? I was absolutely livid!” (from Gerald, the Talking Gorilla), “Now, I like curry as much as the next person, but now that we’ve got the recipe, do they really have to stay here?” (from Rowan Atkinson parodying a racist, anti-immigration MP), and, of course, “Nice Video, Shame About The Song”.

MySpace and LiveJournal blogs don’t seem to be the cornerstone of adolescent culture in Australia that they’ve become in the US (although I may be wrong on that, as I’m not a teenager anymore. No, wait, it’s the children that are wrong! :smiley: ), and I’ve spent the last year or so telling people how great Jason Lee is in My Name Is Earl, only have them ask me what the hell I’m talking about (of course, now it’s on TV here, victory has been mine! :smiley: )

You’d have to watch SBS or Canal Internationale to have any idea who Inspector Rex is, as far as I’m aware Vegemite/Marmite are largely unknown in the US, and the idea of a meat pie would strike a lot of people in North America as slightly odd.

Regardless of nationality, if you’re not a reasonably informed net user, you’d have no idea what the O RLY owl is, and the whole “Snakes On A Plane thing” still strikes a lot of people as a complete mystery.

Anyhoo, you get the idea. So, what are the cultural phenomena in your area that just didn’t travel? You can phone a friend for this one, if you like. :smiley:

Remember POGs? Well what happened was a school teacher here brought in some of her old milkcaps she had saved from the 50s to school one day and before you know it the entire state had brought back this old game. My mother gave me her old milkcaps from the 50s. It was all over the place here and was beginning to make waves in California.

But at the time I was living in Arizona and had gone to an old second hand shop and saw a basket of them selling real cheap. I meantioned to the owner that they were really popular back home and mentioned that he might be selling them all soon. He looked at me like I was crazy. I tried to explain how the game worked but that didn’t impress him either. Ah well, I don’t think I could have made any money selling them anyway.

Thankfully I’m slightly too young to have made any Checkers & Pogo remarks to people not in the know.

Most baby boomers in the US know what Vegemite and Marmite are, I would wager, but they’d rather eat hot coals.

Shepherd’s Pie is a type of pie popular in the Midwest and some parts of Texas, which is stuffed full of beef (along with mashed potatoes and other things). Here in Southern California, if you told someone you were going to eat shepherd’s pie they’d probably think you were talking about bestiality. It’s a regional thing, but we have it, and I think it’s one of America’s great dinners IMO when done right.

Pogs spread to Maryland when I was a kid there in the early 90s. Everyone was playing it, although I never got too into it and I couldn’t tell you how the game worked now.

Sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. I can’t remember exactly what year the series first aired but would guess between '66 -'70 in South Australia at least.

Rubbish. It was on Channel 0 (now Channel 10). Your friends are liars. Dirty, stinking liars. :slight_smile:


A little different, but when I moved from the DC area to Southern California, well, I brought a little of the East Coast with me. I had a serious culture shock moment when I said “yo!” to someone and she burst out laughing. :confused:

Turned out the proper greeting in the local parlance was “'sup?” It took me a while to stop answering that with “the ceiling”, btw.

Yes it was. I remember watching it as a kid, and as a young adult, and that was long before the days of pay TV. When we were kids my sister and I played Batman and Robin, and to this day she complains that because she was the youngest she never got to be Batman.

You might be experiencing an age rather than a cultural chasm. :slight_smile:

This is just plain wrong. It aired in NZ in the early 70’s, at least: I remember being whacked by my Dad at the age of 6 for calling Robin the “Boy Wanker” {no, I didn’t know what it meant}.

Fair enough re: the Batman thing. No-one I’d spoken to here remembers seeing it, but as you say it’s probably an age thing rather than a cultural one.

I didn’t know the Batman TV series had been on in the '70s in NZ… I knew it was on in the mid-80s because I was watching it, and my parents and several other people commented that they hadn’t seen the show before.

It’s still a great show, nonetheless!

I casually mentioned Dr Who in work in Ireland, and a developer called me a geek! The nerve of it. Seems that while it was a formative part of nearly everyone’s childhood in the UK, to some Irish people it is simply some nerdy SciFi obsession.