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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-01-31 05:11
Subject: [writing] Generation slip
Security: Public
Location:Omaha
Mood:amused
Music:hotel noises
Tags:personal, process, writing
I just had a funny thing happen to me. I was working on editorial changes to a short story, when I found a comment suggesting I explain who Karen Silkwood was — in connection to an in-story reference to a "Silkwood squad." It took me a minute to realize this was a generation gap between me and the editor. The editor was right, most readers more than a bit younger than me (ie, too young to remember either the original event or the Meryl Streep movie based on it) won't get it.

It's not often that I am forced to realize how much what is considered "general knowledge" shifts with time. This also points out the difference between Second World and naturalistic narrative -- in a Second World piece, I wouldn't have dropped a reference like that blind without a very good reason.

Funny stuff, this getting older.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
J.K.Richárd: Coffee!
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-01-31 14:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Coffee!
If your book comes with a free dish of lechon kawali you can put as many Tagalog, Ilokano...Cebuano...just please, please include lechon. (please)
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scottedelman
User: scottedelman
Date: 2008-01-31 13:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When I published a story about the blacklist in Dennis Etchison's anthology MetaHorror, though there was no intervention in the story itself, the in-house editor made Dennis mention in his introduction that my story was about McCarthyism, since I hadn't mentioned McCarthy by name.

When I workshopped the story, titled "Are You Now?", most of my readers had no idea that those three words were the start of one of most odious questions in U.S. history. I found it hard to believe that any reader would fail to realize the story had to do with the blacklist just from the title alone, but I guess I was overly optimistic.

People assume that no one knows anything of the time before their own. In the '70s, I once stunned an older woman at the office by mentioning Father Coughlin. She couldn't understand how I could possibly know.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
scottedelman
User: scottedelman
Date: 2008-01-31 14:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm actually surprised that Silkwood needed explanation. Not because I expected knowledge of the historical event, but rather because of the movie of the same name, which was nominated for five Oscars, and starred Meryl Streep, Cher, and Kurt Russell. I'd have thought that movie buffs would know of it, even if they didn't know it was based on a true story.
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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2008-01-31 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had a look of polite enquiry from a 20 year old recently when I mentioned Janis Joplin. I shook my stick at her, you'll be pleased to hear, and told her that when she reached my age, no one would know who Amy Winehouse was (actually that might happen a bit sooner, come to think of it).
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2008-01-31 14:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No one under the age of 30 seems to know who Walter Mondale is. Just another footnote in the myth of Ronald Reagan, who I heard arm wrestled grizzly bears in addition to being a war hero in WWII.
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J.K.Richárd: ONOZ!
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2008-01-31 15:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:ONOZ!
I remember my first elementary school presentation for the Navy and Nuclear Power (oh yes, we even taught 6th graders how reactors work...and made it funny). I was explaining temperature and molecure movement to an 8th grade class and broke out the classic Pong as an example... I received blank stares from everyone. I attempted to upgrade with a classic nintendo game. Further stares.

I realized then how uncool I was.

That was '98. It's been 10 long years of uncool since.
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Renee Babcock: Renee short hair
User: renegade500
Date: 2008-01-31 16:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Renee short hair
It's funny, since I work on a university campus, and while I am aging, the students are perpetually 18-21(ish), I face this as an ongoing occurrence. Culturally, I have little to share with these students - what I remember, even from college, which just doesn't feel that long ago, is history to them. And of course, a few years ago, I got the inevitable "you're the same age as my mother" comment. :-\
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-01-31 17:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had a great experiences with this recently, which points to some actual benefits of this phenomenon.

A couple of us mentioned "Top Gun" around some 16-18 year olds, and they didn't know what we were talking about. I actually cheered. I put my arms in the air and proclaimed, "'Top Gun' is dying out of culture awareness! YES!!!!"

Carrie
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2008-02-01 02:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's amazing how few years it takes for someone to be clueless, too [g]. My ex was 5 1/2 years younger than I am, and therefore not old enough to remember the first moon landing clearly, or to be born when Kennedy died. A friend who is only four years younger than I am is in an entirely different cohort, even though she doesn't believe me that she is. But the things she doesn't know about...

I'm ancient, and I'm afraid that's all there is to it. The proof being that they're starting to play my high school soundtrack on the oldies station [sigh].
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