Funny thing. This Wiki has entries relating to The Maltese Falcon
, Sherlock Holmes
, and many, many connected to William Shakespeare
. Does this mean that a large number of Tropers are Really 700 Years Old
? Probably not. More likely, their education and particular interests have left them with knowledge of things that happened well before they were born.
The opposite is often true of people - and especially young people - in fiction. Barring special circumstances, characters will be limited in knowledge of movies, music, politics etc. to things occurring after their birth. In some cases, the ignorance extends to some time after they reached high school.
Before My Time is a kind of in-universe version of the Fleeting Demographic Rule
, wherein a character demonstrates glaring ignorance of anything significantly in the past. Frequently this involves blank stares and crickets chirping
in response to something said by an older character.
Sometimes inverted wherein an older character will beg off or dismiss a phenomenon as "after my time."
A more technologically-oriented version of this is What Are Records?
- In Monster-in-Law, Jane Fonda is a newscaster interviewing a "dumb blonde" type famous pop singer, who mentioned that she liked really old movies, and gives some examples, none of which are more than ten or fifteen years old.
- In Dragonslayer, the king asks Galen if he had heard of the king before him, but then says, "No, of course not, you weren't even born." (The fact that the king had already acquired a low opinion of Galen by this point probably played a part in him deciding Galen wasn't very intelligent.)
- In Zombieland, Talahassee (after being informed of the concept of Hannah Montana) bemoans the fact that young people don't know who Bill Murray is, and that it's like saying they don't know who Gandhi is.
- In Wolf in Shadow Franky often makes literary references that the younger Rhian does not understand. This causes Frankie to bemoan the state of the British education system. Subverted later when Rhian fails to understand a Shakespeare reference but it turns out that she was just joking and points out that the education system is no that bad yet.
- Max falls victim to both the "before my time" and "after my time" versions at the same time. He is an ancient vampire who was hibernating for a large chunk of the 20th century. He had not had the time yet to get himself acquainted with all the cultural and historical developments that he missed so he is regularly baffled by references to things that happened after he went to sleep but before he woke up. He is particularly annoyed when both Frankie and Rhiam make repeated references to something called "Star Wars".
- A column in Doctor Who Magazine describes a hilarious inversion; a woman who insists to a party full of DWM columnists, Universe Compendium writers and obsessive fans that her completely erroneous version of early Doctor Who is correct, brushing off all aguments with "You weren't even born, dear."
- Played straight and subverted in The Boondocks. The Freemans' neighbor asks Huey whether he's named after Huey Lewis, and Huey actually responds, "Before my time." The subversion comes in the fact that Huey has just given an erudite lecture on Black Panther Huey Newton. He may just be baiting the poor guy.
- Inverted possibly to excess in 9 Chickweed Lane. The post-adolescent characters frequently speak in pulp detective slang and reference old movies like Casablanca, but seldom talk about contemporary culture. Of course, Juilliard arts majors can be a little eccentric.