A character's coolness factor is often demonstrated by what music they prefer—whether it's the popular guy who likes popular bands, someone out of touch who still listens to disco (or older music)
, or a complete dork who likes polka.
This trope is about that dork.
He probably also plays the accordion. Since the accordion, and polka, are often associated with an aged demographic, it's certainly not going to be cool for a young person to admit to enjoying them.***
Not to be confused with an Accordion Man
Note: In recent years, especially with the popularity of "Weird Al" Yankovic
and Mexican banda music, as well as the advent of Steampunk
, there has been somewhat of a reversal of this trend (even Christina Hendricks
proudly plays the accordion!) and it borders somewhat on the verge of becoming a Dead Horse Trope
Anime and Manga
- Coors had a commercial where the spokesman cleared out a bar by playing polka music on the jukebox. They pulled the ad after a Polish-American group complained it was offensive and culturally insensitive to Poles.
- Pepsi had an ad in 2000 that advertised earning points from their products that could be redeemed for free music downloads, set to polka music. The implication was that listening to their artists was a far better option.
- In the original Japanese dub of the Soul Eater anime, Maka is laughed at by the others when it's revealed she's a fan of polka music (it never comes up again, since it's just meant to be idle chatter while Chrona's having a crisis of conscience). The English dub changes it to Country.
- Airplane!: When the air traffic controllers pull Ted Stryker's record, they realize they're in trouble: it turns out to be an LP of Stryker's favorite polka hits. He looks really dorky in the album's cover picture.
- In Fargo, there is a shot of a polka band poster in a teenager's room. It's not as much a comment on the teenager, as much as one on Minnesotans in general being dorky, or at least square.
- Air Force DJ Adrian Cronauer's nemesis in Good Morning Vietnam firmly believes US' soldiers' morale will be boosted by three hours of polka music in the mornings... when Cronauer is taken off the air, GI's are dismayed by his uber-square replacement, and morale duly plummets.
- In Groundhog Day, polka music is playing in Punxsutawney town square on the morning of Groundhog Day. All the locals love it, and Rita's getting into it. When she tells Phil that the locals have been partying like this all night long, he just replies, "They're hicks, Rita."
- In Home Alone, Kevin's mother's desperate journey to get back home to her son—amidst more conventional transportation options being booked full for the holidays—was aided in its last leg by "The Polka King of the Midwest" and his band's touring van. He asked her "You don't mind riding with a bunch of polka bums?" and she indicated she was grateful for the ride. The band played polkas the whole way back to Chicago.
Gus Polinski: I had a few hits a few years ago. That's why I just... "Polka, Polka, Polka? "Twin Lakes Polka"? "Yamahoozie Polka," a.k.a. "Kiss Me Polka"? "Polka Twist"?''
Kate McCallister: These are songs?
Gus Polinski:Yeah. Yeah, we... some fairly big hits for us.
- In Revenge of the Nerds, Judy — one of the Omega Mu sisters — scrapes out a rendition of "So I Say I Gotta Be Me" on the accordion. It's not quite the life of the party, but it's almost the death of it.
- The resident nerd Waldo Butters in The Dresden Files uses "Polka will never die!" as his Battle Cry.
- In Discworld Accordion playing is one of those things that will attract Lord Vetinari's displeasure, as well as attracting mockery from ordinary Anhk-Morporkians. When The Disc's first Newspaper is set up in The Truth they cover the Ankh-Morpork folk music group and note:
Sacharissa: Twenty-six people are mentioned by name.
De Worde: As accordionists?
De Worde: Won't they complain?
Sacharissa: They didn't have to play the accordion.
- From The Devil's Dictionary:
Accord (n): Harmony.
Accordion (n): An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.
- Ghoulardi's disdain for Parma was based in part on their love of polka.
- Night Court: When Dan's parents come for a visit, the reveal that in his youth he was an accordion player in a polka band. This embarrasses Dan greatly.
- Arnold J. Rimmer in Red Dwarf counts polka music as an art form, albeit not one on a par with his all-consuming love of the Hammond organ and easy-listening music played thereon. Rimmer's dork status is well documented.
- In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, a poster is shown for a movie called Hollywood Polka Party with a lot of the cast playing accordions. The poster are lampooning bad Hollywood films and include other fake movies like The Revenge of the Monster Truck.
- In the TV series Family Matters, ubernerd Steve Urkel loves to polka and plays the accordion.
- SCTV parodied "champagne music" shows such as The Lawrence Welk Show with a pair of brothers named Yosh and Stan Schmenge (John Candy and Eugene Levy) from the fictional Baltic state of Lutonia who hosted a polka show (the audience consisting of immigrant senior citizens). Their segment occasionally also featured the "Lemon Twins" (there were three of them), a parody of Welk's "Lennon Sisters".
- Lawrence Welk. While wildly popular with the older crowd, his music was considered square and dorky by the younger generation and even by his contemporaries and has often been parodied.
- Used as a gag by "Weird Al" Yankovic, who does polka versions of popular music. He plays the accordion.
- Used as a gag by Da Yoopers occasionally, usually with Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire dressing in nerdy clothes. He also plays a nerdy lead in "Desperation Polka", about a nerd who is so desperate that he dates (and marries) a fat ugly woman.
- Garfield's owner Jon Arbuckle from Garfield likes polka music and he also plays accordion. He is perennially shown to be about as unhip as someone can be. In one comic, his idea of getting "wild" was shouting "EVERYBODY POLKA!" while putting on an impossibly tacky suit.
- Several early Peanuts strips have Schroeder cringing at the popularity of polka music among less sophisticated listeners. Despite being a virtuoso classical pianist before being old enough to go to kindergarten, he even lost a talent content to a guy who "played the accordion real fast."
- The Reds' driving music in Red vs. Blue is a Mexican polka. Given the Reds are the even more inept side in this series whose theme is Armed Farces, this seems oddly appropriate.
- Used in "Good Idea, Bad Idea" skit. Good idea: Playing the accordion at a polka festival. Bad idea: Playing the accordion anywhere else.
- In one episode, Slappy Squirrel's quiet meadow is colonized by the Woodstock beatniks. Slappy takes the stage armed with an accordion and announces into the mike: "Okay, everybody polka!" Not even Chirping Crickets remain to listen.
- In Biker Mice from Mars, polka music is used to subdue Modo's bike Lil' Hoss.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Cheese Sandwich, voiced by Weird Al, is essentially him in pony form. Accordion-playing polka music pony.
- Pinkie Pie. She carries a huge one-man band around on her back and the Cheese Sandwich episode points out how similar her and Cheese are.
- In Phineas and Ferb, resident nerd Baljeet has mentioned going to polka lessons.