By Holly Michael
Recently Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary with a TV special that exhibited pop culture over the years.
On the red carpet before the event, Sarah Palin and Al Sharpton appeared together in a photo op that spurred headlines like, “Hell Has Frozen Over,” and “End Times are Here.” If you understand political pop culture, you get those headlines.
I’m showing my age, but the three-hour tribute to decades of Saturday Night Live brought back a happy memory of the late 1970s when I was finally old enough to babysit. An opportunity to stay up late, seated before a coffee table loaded with assorted junk food and soda (stuff I didn’t get at home), kids asleep, and Saturday Night Live (on one of the three TV channels available), I was IN HEAVEN! And getting paid!
Over the years Saturday Night Live has continued to spoof pop culture.
Today, a multitude of TV channels and the Internet lead to anything from a screaming goat to a Kim Kardashian’s butt becoming current pop culture.
In writing, using fast-changing pop culture references can be tricky. It’s also important to know your audience in order to create scenes that speak of the pop culture of a specific time period.
I recently wrote a scene in my current WIP showing pop culture from the main character’s childhood. While in India, Rebecca, an American woman, chats with an Indian woman.
“India is a fine place to conquer your greatest fears,” Kumari said.
Rebecca cupped the coconut drink. “Do you have quicksand here? Because my greatest childhood fear was sinking in quicksand.”
“They have quicksand in the States?” Kumari raised an eyebrow.
“They did on Gilligan’s Island.”
“Where is this Gilligan’s Island?”
“Not sure, somewhere beyond a three-hour tour.”
Kumari totally didn’t get that joke.
Ever separate your first two fingers from your last two and greet your friends saying, “Nanoo Nanoo!” Did you fall in love with Chachi from Happy Days?” Grab a hairbrush and sing, “You’re the one that I want. Woohoohoo?”
No idea what I’m talking about? Let’s move up a couple of years. Have you sported a “Rachel” hair cut? Sang, “Oops I did it again?” Danced the Macarena? How about waiting impatiently for the next Harry Potter Book? Ever raised your thumb and pulling a Michelle Tanner, say, “You got it dude!”? Have you stuck a Justin Timberlake picture on your mirror? Or if you’re a guy, Christina Aguilar? Owned a Furby? Wore a fanny pack?
Given the affect pop culture has on us, as a Christian, I recommend this Biblical advice from Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
While keeping lovely, admirable and praiseworthy things foremost in our thoughts as present day earth-dwellers who write, it’s also wise to be aware of pop culture. Take a shot at this writing prompt that deals with pop culture from a specific time period:
“Go play with your Pokemon cards and leave us alone.” Heather grabbed a beanie baby off her bed and threw it at her brother, missing him as he slammed the door. Sporting the new Rachel cut, she brushed out her hair.
“He’s such a pain.” Ashley, her BFF, restarted the button on the boom box and Heather…
All photos from Morgue File