Each of us occupies a nexus of culture. That sounds rather high-brow, don’t you think? Please allow me to explain what I mean.
We are all consumers of culture. Personally, I consume sizeable doses of science fiction, fantasy, video games, politics, and religion. The list is not exhaustive, but it covers most of the major contributors, and it makes for an interesting combination of interactive cultural references. There are aspects of culture that I don’t consume much of: sports, theater, classical music, celebrity gossip. Thus, all to often, conversations can become hard to follow when I miss somebody’s baseball reference and they miss my Marvel comics reference.
As a parent, I sometimes consume a bit of kiddie culture. Some of it is really bad, and will never, ever produce a cultural reference of significance (for example, Hannah Montana or Suite Life). There are some gems, though. Spongebob had a good run, but I really don’t care much for the new stuff. One of my current favorites is the animated Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel.
Phineas and Ferb, if you’re not familiar with them, are two brothers who have a list of things that they want to do during their summer vacation. They also happen to have smarts that rival Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron and Cartoon Network’s Dexter. Meanwhile, their pet platypus, Perry, goes about the business of foiling the machinations of the evil (or is he just misunderstood?) Dr. Doofenshmirz (of Doofenshmirz Evil Incorporated). Their sister Candace resents the activities of Phineas and Ferb, but can never seem to reveal their activities to their mother. Each episode includes an original musical number.
In one unforgettable episode, the two boys set out to make the world appreciate the humble aglet. What’s an aglet, you say? Why, it’s the plastic tip on the end of a shoe lace, of course. The pair organize an aglet-awareness concert at the local stadium and spend the day promoting it at the local mall. Here’s clip from the show:
Now I need to tie (ahem) this whole post back together regarding the nexus of cultural influences. At the last 5K that I ran, one of my rivals had a little problem with his shoe laces. He actually caught the toe of one shoe in the loop of the laces on the other shoe and went down in a fall. After the race, he was lamenting his condition and voiced that he was considering cutting his laces shorter. Before I could help myself, I blurted out, “But then you wouldn’t have any aglets!”
He laughed and said, “Yeah,” but I don’t know whether he really got the reference.