One of my friends out here in L.A. has a fascinating (to me, anyway) character trait: through various machinations in her life, she has almost no grasp of popular cinema from 1979 to 1999. Apart from Indiana Jones and Lord Of The Rings, it’s just a black hole of pop-culture arcana, where half-understood details and overheard recollections fill in the areas where most of us have indelible memories.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course — no one is required to have known or seen certain things to exist comfortably in life.* Still, it’s very strange to talk with someone highly intelligent who has a firm grasp on the history and current events of the past 30-ish years, but who has no ability to converse in the shorthand language that my friends and I use all the time.
My hope in the future is to try to launch a project that traces the progress of this pop-culture Mowgli through her cinematic wilderness. As a preview, here is a compilation of some film syonpses that she has recently shared during normal conversation:
“It’s Jack Nicholson. He’s in a hotel, and he’s a writer. There are a couple of little girls, and a room floods. Then he starts to go hysterical.”
Back To The Future
“He goes back in time in a car on fire.”
“That’s a college one. It’s sort of like Old School. I think it stars the brother of that guy from that awful lawyer show on TV, doesn’t it?”
Return Of The Jedi
“I’ve seen that! Luke tells Leia she’s his sister, and she remembers her real mother. And there’s an old guy at the end, but they replaced him with the young one from the new movies. Umm…I might need to watch it again, actually.”
Friday The 13th series
“I don’t know what that is.” [That’s the series with Jason.] “Who’s Jason?” [He’s the killer who wears a hockey mask.] “Oh.” *long pause* [Do you know what a hockey mask looks like?] “No.”
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb
“There’s a guy who rides a missile. Right?”
*I say this, but I don’t really mean it. It’s so very, very wrong.