Perhaps this will end up in GD or the pit, but I think it can be a polite discussion over here in the Cafe. The matter I wish to discuss is that of Pop Culture references as a valid form of communication. Often around here on the SDMB, when people start talking about definintions of words and how they may change based on context, the conversation quickly spirals into personal insults (believe me). I would like to avoid personal attacks and discuss the practice on it’s merits.
I am 25 years old. Most of my childhood was in the 80’s and my teen years were in the 90’s. Having grown up during this time as an American I have experienced many movies, television shows, and a ton of popular music. I share these common experiences with millions of others who grew up at the same time. Now, when I meet someone, we can joke around about all the old tv shows and movies, and it is a common ground. This “relating to each other through pop culture” has been going on for a while, and has advanced to the point that saying certain words or phrases instantly references a certain film/tv show and the context that it was used in. Like “D’oh!!!” instantly references the Simpsons and behaving in a Homer-ish manner.
I went to Catholic school, and in about the 7th Grade, alot of kids were beginning to question the religious texts we were reading, so they brought in a local priest who was better equipped to answer our questions. The question came up “Why did Jesus say “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?””. The answer, according to the priest, was not that he meant it as a literal question of God. Instead he was invoking a particular Psalm (Unfortunately I forget which one and I don’t have a bible handy). By using it’s first line he referenced the entire Psalm, which turns out to be offering praises to God. The priest said that people knew the Psalms so well in those days, all you had to do was say the first line, and they knew what you were talking about.
Religion aside, this is an old example of the phenomenon I speak of. Once a meme has moved into the collective consiousness, it can be used to show certain ideas or emotions that it might not without the referenced context.
I say this is totally valid. If I use a word or phrase as a pop-culture reference, it’s meaning becomes only that of the context I use it in, without reference to what the word/phrase may have meant in the past. If there is confusion as to the meaning/context, and a person is able to reference Pop Culture as the source, it is then up to the listener to check out (or ask about) the source material so as to understand the context.
I think language is more of an art than a science. It is fluid and does provide the opportunity for creativity and new meanings of old words. There are some suggested rules, but the important thing about language is that it allows people to communicate thoughts and ideas. It is a wonderful tool in that sense. People are always coming up with new ways of speaking (read relating) to each other. I find this very cool, and do not think there is anything wrong with it.
How do you feel about Pop Culture references as valid communication?