Just the other day someone told me they hated Star Wars. I wasn't surprised since she didn't strike me as a sci-fi fan, but seeing as Star Wars transcends the genre, I think it's the kind of movie that can appeal to just about anyone. So I tried a trick. I waved my hand in front of her face Jedi Knight style and said, “You love Star Wars.”
She looked at me confused and said, “No. I hate Star Wars.”
At least I tried, right?
I quote things all of the time, which is actually kind of unfortunate because recently I’ve noticed that our generation (Y? Z? Are we keeping track of the cut-off dates anymore?) can’t hold a single conversation without quoting something. And the problem lies in the vast amount of pop culture at our disposal. Long gone are the days where people would mostly reference the quintessential quotable films like The Godfather and Planet of the Apes. Our generation has hundreds of Simpsons episodes to pull from along with more obscure films like Cannibal! The Musical.
I think I’m mostly bothered by this for two reasons: 1.) More and more I find myself talking to a group of people who constantly quote things to each other while I sit by having absolutely no idea what is being discussed. I like Arrested Development as much as the next guy with a good sense of humor, but when I’m bombarded with a random collection of Adult Swim quotes I’m not familiar with followed by a completely-out-of-nowhere chicken dance, I mentally check out. And 2.) I find myself quoting the most random things to people when I know they will have no clue I’m actually doing it. The worst was once I realized whenever I would tell people “good luck,” I would say it with the same deep, fake video game tone as the menu voice in Starfox 64. Who would ever pick up on this? “Yes! Starfox 64. Good reference. Very well done. Now let me dish out some Wave Race quotes you probably remember.”
Even worse, I once kept quoting Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants. Any time I could fit it in, I would say, “Now that's fancy!”
Three reasons make this a very unfortunate choice on my part. First of all, it's one of the most obnoxious kids shows playing today. I don't mind it that much, but it's not something you can feel proud watching. Secondly, I do a terrible impression of Patrick. No one ever picked up on the reference. I basically came off like I was making a random stupid voice while saying something that didn't contribute to the discussion whatsoever. Lastly—and worst of all—I would always say it before thinking and immediately regretted it every single time. Saying the quote had started as a bit of an inside joke between my wife and I. Little did I know that this little joke of ours would spiral out of control to the point where I would publicly embarrass myself on a constant basis.
I'm not suggesting that I'll stop quoting movies and TV shows. There’s something nice about telling a friend in-the-know that you’re having a schpadoinkle day or that the crowd was actually saying “Boo-urns.” And I'm sure that, no matter what, any time I see Stephen Tobolowsky on a screen, I'll excitedly tell the person next to me, “It's Ned... Ryerson!” And if that person has no idea what I'm referencing, I will definitely say, without hesitation, “Needlenose Ned! Ned the Head!”
So my quoting days aren't over. However, I’ll try to fit in a few more genuine words here and there. You know, to really spice up the conversation with actual communication. As far as the inexplicable Starfox references, I'm putting the kibosh on that. I’m not even sure how they snuck their way in there.
But the chicken dance stays. How else are we expected to humiliate cowards?