Modern Pop Culture References in Fantasy

Call the practice what you will: a shout-out, an homage, or simply a reference. If you’re a fan of pop culture, movies, TV, books, or music, perhaps you’ve seen filmmakers, directors, and writers being cute with this ritual. Recently, my wife and I were watching an episode of “Heroes,” and were pleased at the appearance of George Takei (Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek). In this new series, he’s a wealthy Japanese business magnate, and the license plate on his limousine read “NCC-1701.” We had a good chuckle over noticing that little shout-out. In “Jersey Boys,” directed by Clint Eastwood, there’s a scene in a TV studio and a wall of monitors. The screens are playing many of the TV shows from that era, including a shot of Rowdy Yates from “Rawhide.”

bullhorn

These allusions are everywhere if you take the time to notice them. But of course, one must be a veritable fountain of useless cultural knowledge (like me) to catch them. Even The Beatles dropped a shout-out to Bob Dylan in the song “Yer Blues” from The White Album.

With all this in mind, I couldn’t resist the temptation to do the same within my own pages. The original manuscript for Storm of Divine Light was replete with Easter Egg type shout-outs. But alas, my wife (The Queen) and some beta readers suggested their removal. They said that my references, although entertaining, were too overt and jolted them out of their reading immersion.

For some odd reason, I figured that including some shout-outs was the right thing to do as a way of adding humor to Storm of Divine Light. After all, I hadn’t played any word games with a reader since my first short story “A Purveyor of Odd Things” from the Ragged Souls collection. No pop culture references in that one, but an assault of palindromes, anagrams, and double-entendres.

I reluctantly agreed and removed most of them during the final edit. Most of them (heh heh heh). The remaining ones are quite veiled, and I doubt if anyone will identify all of them. I confess, one of them is somewhat blatant, but I figured that one would stay as a signal that there are more. Hopefully, you’ve paid strict attention to my favorite movie lists. Although I do have a nagging suspicion that my friend Lynne will catch most or all of them.

Do you know what NCC-1701 signifies? Or what Rowdy Yates has to do with “Jersey Boys”? Or the lyrics from The Beatles “Yer Blues”?

Don’t Go – Comment Below

My Favorite Films of the 1970’s

 

I don’t care if some of these films did not win a string of Academy Awards or even if they were nominated. They are the ones that I keep going back to when I want to relax as if I’m seeing an old friend. All films not produced in the USA are marked.

movies

I Go to the Movies Alone… by Betsssssy used under CC License

50. The Last Picture Show – d. Peter Bogdonovich

49. Black & White in Color – d. Jean-Jacques Annaud (Ivory Coast)

48. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage – d. Dario Argento (Italy)

47. Norma Rae – d. Martin Ritt

46. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – d. Luis Buñuel (France)

45. All The President’s Men – d. Alan J. Pakula

44. The Conversation – d. Francis Ford Coppola

43. Dog Day Afternoon – d. Sidney Lumet

42. The Man Who Fell to Earth – d. Nicolas Roeg (UK)

41. 1776 – d. Peter H. Hunt

40. Animal Housed. John Landis

39. Magnum Force – d. Ted Post

38. Barry Lyndon – d. Stanley Kubrick (UK / USA)

37. Last Tango in Paris – d. Bernardo Bertolucci (France / Italy)

36. Woodstock – d. Michael Wadleigh

35. Rocky – d. John G. Avildsen

34. The Outlaw Josey Wales – d. Clint Eastwood

33. The Seven-Ups – d. Phillip D’Antoni

32. Vanishing Point – d. Richard C. Sarafian

31. Alien – d. Ridley Scott

30. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – d. Stephen Spielberg

29. Jaws – d. Stephen Spielberg

28. Soylent Green – d. Richard Fleischer

27. The Song Remains the Same – d. Peter Clifton / Joe Massot

26. Mean Streets – d. Martin Scorsese

25. High Plains Drifter – d. Clint Eastwood

24. Murder on the Orient Express – d. Sidney Lumet

23. The Last Waltz – d. Martin Scorsese

22. The Stingd. George Roy Hill

21. Smokey and the Bandit – d. Hal Needham

20. Superman – d. Richard Donner

19. Nosferatu the Vampyre – d. Werner Herzog (West Ger. / France)

18. Macbeth – d. Roman Polanski (UK / USA)

17. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – d. Terry Gillian / Terry Jones (UK)

16. Star Wars – d. George Lucas

15. Blazing Saddles – d. Mel Brooks

14. Patton – d. Franklin J. Schaffner

13. Serpico – d. Sidney Lumet

12. Young Frankenstein – d. Mel Brooks

11. Scrooge – d. Ronald Neame (UK)

10. Apocalypse Now – d. Francis Ford Coppola

09. Taxi Driver – d. Martin Scorsese

08. The French Connection – d. William Friedkin

07. The Day of the Jackald. Fred Zinneman

06. Swept Away – d. Lina Wertmuller (Italy)

05. Day For Nightd. Francois Truffaut (France)

04. Jeremiah Johnson – d. Sydney Pollack

03. Let It Be – d. Michael Lindsay-Hogg (UK)

02. The Godfather Pt. II – d. Francis Ford Coppola

01. The Godfather – d. Francis Ford Coppola

Are any of your favorites here? Feel free to comment 🙂