Whats This About A Sled? YKTTW Discussion

Whats This About A Sled?
(permanent link) added: 2010-06-09 23:42:29 sponsor: MrInitialMan (last reply: 2010-06-09 23:42:29)

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"It Was His Sled." Um... what was his sled? And who is this "his" you speak of?

This is a means of showing the difference between people from two different groups (usually generations) in which a character from Group A makes a pop culture reference (or mentions a famous person or movie or work) and one of three things happens:

  1. The person from Group B doesn't get it at all because of a failure of Popcultural Osmosis. This seems to be the most common
  2. The person from Group B gets it wrong because of a failure of Popcultural Osmosis (and he's guessing).
  3. The person from Group B gets it wrong because of a clash of Popcultural Osmosis (and he's referencing something that referenced the original, referenced a reference of the original, etc.).

This can happen because the person from Group B:

A) is a bumpkin or is otherwise cut off from modern pop culture

B) is an outsider (of the clique or an immigrant or foreigner)

C) is old-fashioned and not knowledgeable of current popular culture.

D) is young and the bit of pop culture is (relatively) old.

E) simply is not familiar with a genre or a work

F) the work itself is thought to be so popular that all who know it think it will be passed on through Popcultural Osmosis -- with the result that it isn't.

Note that the last is the natural conclusion of Popcultural Osmosis, when even All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game" is forgotton (along with the Crying Game itself).

This is also why one must be careful with Character Named Tropes. For example, if you're not familiar with 19th-century English literature, who is Inspector Lestrade; if not well-read in 19th-century French literature, Inspector Javert may be unknown to you; and if you've never watched anime, Inspector Zenigata will be a stranger.


Type 1

  • Troper Tales: The trope title It Was His Sled made absolutely no sense to me, as I knew nothing about Citizen Kane beyond the fact that it was a famous film -- and I do mean nothing, as in, I did not know there was a sled involved, or that Mr. Kane said "Rosebud" at any point in the movie.
  • Zombie Land. Little Rock doesn't know who Willie Nelson is, much to Tallahassee's horror.
  • In a Scrubs episode, the Janitor tells Eliot that he changed the address in his personel file to "1 Cemetery Lane" because Dr Kelso keeps calling him "Lurch". Eliot just looks at him in polite incomprehension.
  • Running Man: "Who's Mr. Spock?"
  • Community: Shirley: "You remind me of Jack and Diane... I hated Jack and Diane." Anne: "Who's Jack and Diane?" Shirley: [furious] "Okay, I get it! You're young!"
  • Truth in Television: A teacher expected a kids choir to know the lyrics and melody to One Tin Soldier via Popcultural Osmosis ; those kids should have heard it a million times, so there was no music or practice needed. They hadn't, resulting in a very awkward moment on performance day.
  • (Troper tale from a contributer): Heh, I remember my singing coach in college trying to get me to sing "Hey Jude" with her. I'd heard the name before but had the darndest time convincing her that I literally did not know the words to that song. Not even one of those songs where you're like "Oh, I do know this one... just never really paid much attention" or anything, I really didn't know it. But she was like, "Of course you do! Sing with me!"
  • I had a similar experience in grade school, where literally everyone else in the class knew the words to "Puff The Magic Dragon," and I had barely even heard of it.
  • In a similar thing, in Sister Act 2, Delores wants to hear her students sing, so she singles them out and has them sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb". One girl doesn't know it.
  • Sam on Quantum Leap occasionally fails to get Al's pop-culture references, such as in "Glitter Rock," when he doesn't know who Pete Townshend is, leading to a Who's on First? exchange. This is mostly due to time-travel-related memory loss, although (as in this example) it might occasionally occur just because Sam is a huge nerd.
  • TV Tropes: This is the reason that tropes such as Bugs Meany Is Gonna Walk got renamed to Conviction by Contradiction.
  • Temperence "Bones" Brennan's Catch Phrase for virtually any Pop Culture reference: "I don't know what that means." (She notably did know who Stewie was when it came up.)
  • Third-hand Troper Tale: My father's doctor (in his 70s) was talking with his five year old granddaugher (this was like 10 years ago).
Granddaugher: Blah Blah Blah Britney Spears Blah.
Grandpa: Who's Britney Spears?
Granddaugher: Don't you know anything?

Type 2

Type 3

  • An example from Older Than They Think fits here, as a clash of Pop-Cultural Osmosis: An in-universe example has Superboy saying to Superman "Second star to the right and fly till morning." When Superman says "Peter Pan. How appropriate." Superboy replies "What are you talking about? Captain Kirk said that." in reference to Kirk's closing line at the end of the 6th movie where he was clearly quoting Peter Pan.
  • Someone uses the fanfare from Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" to refer to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and someone else think's it's a reference to Ric Flair (who used the same as his Leitmotif)

Possible Titles

  1. Was WHAT His Sled
  2. What Was His Sled
  3. It Was Whose Sled
  4. What Was Whose Sled?
  5. Whats This About A Sled
  6. Pop Culture Blind
  7. Pop Culture Blind Spot
  8. Popcultural Osmosis Failure
Replies: 33