From Our Readers Read This, You Ignorant Slut: A Guide to Pop Culture References From Our Readers

Obviously, it is NOT cool to call someone else a slut. Unless, of course, you are referencing the Saturday Night Live bit starring Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd. Then, it is hilarious. In fact, you should go say that to your grandma right now, I bet she will find it funny too (P.S. don’t REALLY – unless she happens to be a fan of vintage SNL). You may have heard the phrase, “ignorant slut” before, and perhaps you were offended. Maybe even more so when the phrase was met by laughter from those around you or, at the least, appreciative smiles. What is going ON? You might ask. Well, I will clue you in. If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, you have just been an unsuspecting victim of a pop culture reference flyby.

Pop culture references are all around us, and if you are not getting them, then it is the WORST. When you do get one though, it is somehow the best feeling ever. Seriously, the best. You could be anywhere when someone you don’t know very well comes out with a movie quote you actually recognize, like the classic, “Fat guy in a little coat.” You’ll laugh and maybe respond back with “Did I hear a niner in there?” All of a sudden, you and that random person are now bonded together like two little girls who have spit in their palms and clasped hands in an act of lifelong friendship. Pop references have the ability to connect us.  Not all of us, however, have the time to sit around all day, watching tv and movies, reading magazines, and listening to music (that’d be awesome though, right?  YOLO). So, here is a list of some ways to increase your pop culture knowledge so you are not left slack-jawed the next time you are called a really offensive term:

1.  Comedy, Comedy, Comedy
Watch comedies! It’s that simple. Let’s be honest, more than half of getting pop culture references has to do with knowing quotes. Most quotes that people use in every day life come from comedies. Look for movies with these actors: Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller. They are pretty much movie quoting gold.

Sidenote about quoting: I am actually terrible with quotes. I could watch a movie one hundred times and still flub up my favorite quotes from it. The awesome thing about this form of pop culture referencing though, is that it’s okay to mess up a quote. In fact, some of the most well known “quotes” aren’t the actual quotes at all. The famous Oscar acceptance speech, “they love me, they really love me!” isn’t quite so magical when you find out that the actual quote is, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” (Can we please take a second to appreciate how adorable Sally Field is?). The point to all of this is, when quoting, take Nike’s advice and just do it. Don’t worry if it comes out wrong. Chances are, you will get the gist of it and boom, you are making friends and going places.

2.  Channel Surf
On your next day off, set aside a time to channel surf. This is how I learn about 87% of my pop culture references. While channel surfing, you may come across a show that you have never seen before. Instead of flipping past it to find something familiar, stick with it until the next commercial break (or longer, if you end up liking it). Those ten minutes can go a long way. I have seen approximately 1.5 episodes of Honey Boo Boo Child. That is about thirty-five minutes of my life (taking away time for commercials) and I am now basically a pro at all things Honey Boo Boo. When a fellow employee declares this as one of her favorite shows, I respond with a heartfelt, “I’m Honey Boo Boo Child and I’m sassy!” Now this employee and I are immediately best friends. It’s that easy. Often with pop culture, breadth is more important than depth. You can learn a lot through watching snippets of random shows here and there. Who knows, maybe you will stumble onto your new favorite show in the process.

3. VH1 Countdowns
I can’t stress this one enough. When all else fails, watch a VH1 countdown. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched VH1’s Top 50 Greatest One Hit Wonders. TV specials like these help you build your knowledge base. Why do I care about that? You might ask. Here is why. Someday, you could potentially overhear a smug acquaintance trying to sound smart. One minute, he’s explaining that it is Cher who sings the song “What’s Up,” and the next minute, you are popping your cute head into that conversation to say, “actually, it’s the band 4 Non Blondes. You just got Jammed!” Only instead of saying, “Jammed,” you will insert your last name and add an “ed” on the end (thank you Parks and Recreation for that sweet idea). It is fun to be right! Trust me.

4.  Get Nostalgic
You are already an expert in some areas of pop culture – those that relate to your childhood. I instantly feel a kinship to other people when I see them wearing a Legends of the Hidden Temple shirt or eating a container of Dunkoroos (yes, they still exist). Every generation has a culture and you are lucky, because your generation’s culture is awesome! It may or may not be the same as mine, depending on if you are older or younger than me, but I am sure there are tons of sweet things about the time period you grew up in. Embrace your childhood! Pull out old toys, games, etc. Play a round of Pogs with your friends, watchThe 90s Are All That on TeenNick, and scrounge up your old Spice Girls CD. Find your inner child and pop culture references will come along with it.

5. The Internet, Obviously!
Since you are all reading this right now, I can tell you are on the right track. There are so many great blogs, online publications, websites, etc. that can tell you a lot about pop culture. Read what you find interesting.

Also, in case you didn’t know, Google is seriously the best thing ever. For real. I am in love and I don’t care who knows it! Guess where I heard the phrase, “you ignorant slut,” from?  SNL? Nope, guess again. I heard it on The Office. Michael says it to Dwight in a hilarious episode from third season. I naturally just assumed the line was a creation from the writers of The Office. Then, one day, somebody’s Facebook status said “Jerry, you ignorant slut. What? That didn’t make any sense; I didn’t hear that on Seinfeld. So I Googled it. There I found the origin of the phrase (Curtin and Aykroyd), as well as a reference to it that was made years later on SNL in a skit starring Jerry Seinfeld. Knowledge. (Ha, I bet I tricked you into thinking that I was one of those cool people who prefer classic episodes of SNL to those of today – I’m not. But that’s what knowing pop culture references can do for you! It can give you the illusion of being cooler than you are). If you hear somebody making a reference you don’t recognize, store it in you brain and Google it later. It is especially good to save for a time when you really need to be doing something else, like homework, for instance. Those are the times when my pop culture knowledge base grows the most. I think it has something to do with science.

By Grace Pushman

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  1. Well placed “Elf” quote. :)

  2. i just saw the cowbell episode for the first time like 5 months ago and loved it! I love obscure references from fight club to south park to mean girls.

  3. I didn’t realize “You Ignorant Slut” was from SNL until I read the Akroyd and Belushi article in Vanity Fair’s latest Comedy Issue. I Always thought it was a gem penned for Michael Scott

  4. So true!!! I wish my friends would read this; I hate when I have to explain things I say or quoted on tv!

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