Help me compile the ultimate refresher course for my good friend Steve

A good friend of mine, let’s call him “Steve,” has recently been reanimated after having been frozen in ice for the last 70ish years.

Steve’s job keeps him pretty busy, so he hasn’t had much time to catch up on film, television, music, and so on. Not only is he suffering from a certain amount of future shock, but his coworkers are getting tired of Steve’s complete obliviousness to most pop culture references.

Anyway, the other day I got a call from my other good friend, Nick. Nick is Steve’s supervisor at work. He’s asked me to put together a crash course to help Steve get with the times.

Assuming that Steve’s R&R time is fairly limited, what would go on the short list for things to catch up on? This might not only include entertainment media, but could also be particularly important scientific and historical works as well. For some reason I can never pin down the exact date that my buddy was frozen, so for our purpose let’s peg the start date for “catching up” at January 1, 1946.

Does Time-Life still publish their history anthologies?

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Star Wars. If he doesn’t have time to watch all three of the important movies, he needs to at least know enough to understand references to “May the Force be with you”, “Use the Force, Luke”, the Death Star, Darth Vader, and “Luke, I am your father”. Maybe also Yoda and the way he speaks.

Speaking of Yoda, he needs to know about Sesame Street and the Muppets.

In his line of work, it’s probably not a bad idea for him to know a little about James Bond, given that references are probably likely to come up.

For music, he mostly just needs the Beatles and Elvis, and maybe Michael Jackson. Anything else is ignorable-- Some of it is good, but most of it isn’t significant. Oh, he has to know how wide a variety of music there is now, but he can ignore the details.

Star Wars is a good one not just because of cultural relativity, but because it’s something he’d recognize from his own time: the Flash Gordon serials that directly inspired them would be uncommonly fresh in his mind. Something that looks so astonishingly modern that’s also so firmly grounded in his own world would probably be very reassuring for him.

Interesting detail: before he joined the military, Steve was in art school, learning illustration and earning money on the side writing and drawing for comic books. So, normally I’d say “Get that guy some Jack Kirby!” Except that raises some troubling existential questions for Cap. Sandman comics should be safe enough - they’re from DC, after all.

I’d also recommend Maus, but I’m not sure about WWII stuff overall. To him, it’s all stuff that happened a couple years ago. I know a lot of veterans liked Saving Private Ryan, but they had sixty years to make their peace with the war. It seems almost cruel to inflict it on a guy who’s just come out of it. On the other hand, he might really enjoy Downfall. Also, while I think he’d hate the movie overall, I don’t know that I could resist showing him the climactic scene in Inglorius Basterds.


I had a question, but I think I figured out the answer; based on that answer, I’m going to need a few minutes to cogitate over my response.

The answer to your unquestion is “Counter-terrorism Expert”.

Also, a continuing theme in fan-comic Steve Rogers: American Captain is Pepper Potts taking Steve to galleries and showing him everything he missed in modern art since the end of WWII.

He should probably watch the first Austin Powers movie.

Okay, first of all, you shouldn’t hit him with too much all at once. Get him some DVDs to watch that kind of ease him up toward the twenty-first century. Maybe some of the light-hearted musical-action-adventures of the lovely Dale Evans and her husband, Roy the Singing Cowboy. I’m sure he’ll get a laugh out of their bumbling sidekick Andy, as he drives Nellybell around the ranch, trying to keep up with them.

A little sociological updating might be in order, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy watching a few episodes of Pastor Fred, as he gently explains to the children of this great nation that they are likeable for their intrinsic worth as human beings.

Take him out for an evening of country rock and roastered chicken.

For some straight-up ghost-hunting fun, you could introduce him to Scooby, Shaggy, and the whole gang of meddlin’ kids.

I strongly recommend against letting him waste his time with comic books.

I’ll put forth watching Seinfeld. The show could catch you up on societal norms while being quite entertaining.

I’d think some of the space program documentaries like “From the Earth to the Moon” and “When We Left Earth” would be good stuff for him to watch.

I kind of like Kaylasdad99’s idea of easing him into the culture gradually. Maybe start him out with 1940s TV shows, and move him forward gradually, so that he sees pop-culture change through the lens of pop-culture.

I mean, we all grew up watching “Leave it to Beaver”, “Petticoat Junction”, “Gunsmoke”, “Bonanza” and other shows from the 50s, 60s and 70s in syndication as children. Why not give him a similar experience, albeit as an adult?

We did?

I really hate it when my jokes don’t work. :frowning:

He’s got to watch Jaws. Besides being an excellent movie he’ll see the first good theatrical release movie Spielberg did. He’ll also learn cultural references like “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat” And how many movies have been made that imitate Jaws?

Masterpiece theatre.

That is all.

The first thing I’ll tell him to do is read American Dreams: The United States Since 1945 by H.W. Brands. It’s a solid one-volume history of postwar America.

Are there porn versions of these series?

I think we need to show him a series programs to demonstrate the progressively greater freedoms artists have enjoyed over the last century. Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to … what would be the, er, um, seminal demonstration film for 21st century porn?

Show him porn first. He’ll have a much easier time accepting everything else after that.

He’s missing everything after WWII, so a lot of history lessons are in order, but he can start with the key political points, the Cold War, the presidents, the assasinations, Vietnam, Watergate, and the fall of the Soviet Union, and finally 9/11. After that he can get into whatever area interests him. Most of the people who didn’t live through those times (and an awful lot who did) don’t know much about those times.

The changes in technology will astound him. Household appliances, cars, jet aircraft, helicopters, rockets, television, ATMs, computers, and cell phones, but like the average person he just needs to know they exist and how to utilize them.

The evolution of the movies, music, and leisure activities can be covered quickly also. He’ll never have time to see, listen, and do everything, but he’ll be able to decide what he wants to know more about.

There’s a lot more to living in society today, no matter how you do it there’s not enough time to go in depth in area to start out, he has to get the overview and take it from there. Cultural references have to be absorbed over time through exposure and Steve’s own curiosity.

He’s going to have to catch up on a lot of science in order to have basic cultural literacy. Steve went into the deep freeze before Watson and Crick figured out the structure of DNA. And, unless was a big reader of scientific journals, he probably didn’t even know what DNA was, let alone its function in cells, when he got suspended in time.

I’d give him some good intro material (maybe from Simple Wikipedia, or something), so he has a basic notion of what genes are and what they do, how DNA fingerprinting works, etc.

I’d also give him some basic info on ecology, including the carbon and nitrogen cycles, trophic webs, succession, and bioaccumulation. Then he’d have enough background to understand contemporary debates about global warming, environmental regulations, conseretc.

If he was interested in modern biology, I’d give him a good biology textbook (the most recent edition of the Campbell & Reece, probably) and let him go to town.