The past few weeks have been rough for a guy who cherishes his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. I believe I am veritable wasteland of useless knowledge and pithy opinions on music, movies, and television. I am a 46 year-old man but I got up early on Tuesday to take a look at the latest fashion on the red carpet at the Met Gala. And, like always, it did not disappoint. I am often the ringer on any trivia team. Trust me, you want me on your side when it comes to worthless barroom questions on listing movies Hugh Grant was in or what was the release year of the Clash’s London Calling. And I’m even better at sports. Want to know what happened in the 1996 NBA Finals? I’m your guy. The last five gold medalists in women’s Olympic figure skating, done.
But no matter how aware we are of the pop culture around us there are always a few blind spots where we not only have a limited knowledge but our knowledge is almost at zero. Two of those things are the Marvel Universe and Game of Thrones and both are having their moment right now. The newest Avengers movie has made nearly $2.5 Billion dollars in its first two weeks making that total faster than any other movie and by summer’s end will have likely eclipsed Avatar as the highest grossing movie ever. Game of Thrones is the most popular series to ever grace the HBO screen. And that just about sums up my knowledge of that series.
I mean, I know Game of Thrones has dragons in it and that it set in a different time and place, and then there is that Starbucks cup left on screen. Also a there was an issue with how dark a pivotal episode was and that seemed like a very big deal. As for the Avengers I tend to at least know the characters. Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and such are comic book heroes I used to glance over as I was buying baseball cards at the hobby store. My brother is big into comics so I know my way around early Web of Spiderman and some Fantastic Four.
While America was captivated I was watching the Food Network show Worst Cooks in America – Celebrity Edition where the most recognizable face is Jim J Bullock from Too Close for Comfort or Morgan Fairchild from the 80s too. I was also playing the new Taylor Swift video for ME! On repeat, listening to the new Vampire Weekend album, and I have recently really gotten into the NBA Playoffs and English Premier League Soccer. So when my friends look at me with mouths agape when I tell them I have not found space on my pop culture plate for Game of Thrones or Avengers my reply has been, it’s not like I’m not consuming pop culture it’s just that is not for me.
The cool thing is no one has really shamed me for it, I have just got curious looks. Quite some time ago (pop culture speaking) NPR culture writer Linda Holmes wrote an article about consuming culture and she concluded rightly that “you cannot possibly consume it all so stop trying.” And this was in 2011. Long before Netflix leaned into streaming dominance or Spotify blew up. Since then we entered into the era of the YouTube star, and have more entertainment on demand than we know what to do with. After all, it blows my mind that each year six out of ten Americans don’t watch the Super Bowl. So I guess this is a tribute to pop culture blind spots. They are not blind spots after all, they are just an omission from your pop culture diet. So embrace it, accept it, and hope heaven has a dope streaming service because even if one tried they cannot watch, listen, or read it all so you mine as well lean into the things you love and consume those.