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.
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! ), 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! )
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.