Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pop Culture References in Literature | Yay or Nay?

In contemporary novels a device often used by authors to place us in the here and now are pop culture references. You will not be surprised to find name drops such as One Direction, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and the likes between the pages; in conversation, thought or setting.

Now, I get why this happens. I even use it sometimes, myself. But then a question sometimes pops into my head: is there such a thing as too much pop culture references... and can they be a danger to the novel?

This originally came to me when I was reading No Interest in Love and then I dilly-dallied with it and forgot.

Anyways, in No Interest In Love a crucial part of the plot hangs on the main character's love to Barney Stinson from the show How I Met Your Mother. A show that ended two years ago. And it's mentioned a lot, and somewhat depends on the reader's love to this character as well.

Probably, this pop-culture reference can hold for about three more years, no more. Because people will forget about this show. People will no longer know who Barney Stinson is or won't know it as well. The girl who was 12 when the show ended will have no idea why it's endearing for the main character to like Barney - or what it really says about him.

So, alongside this pop-culture reference, the book will be dated too.

And at the end of the day, don't you want to create something timeless? Don't you want people to read your stories one hundred years from now? Isn't that the DREAM when it comes to writing? Aren't you afraid those pop-culture references will make your story disappear as they do?

I know that when I write, I am. There's always this voice worrying when I write a reference to something in RL.

Of course, I have seen this done (what I consider) "correctly". I've seen it sparkled sparsely so we get the times, but the story doesn't relay on it. If someone reads it ten years from now they might not know the person, but they will get what he is. Like, they may not know One Direction but from the way it's mentioned they will know it's THE boy band of this world.

My preferred method is making up pop culture references. This way, no matter when you read it, it's still "current" and paints a contemporary picture . No one is going to go "oh, I don't know what this is" because it doesn't exist in real life, yet their RL counterparts will always exist. (because, let's face it, there is always going to be the boy band, or the band or the actor).

So to me, this method is the best. So, in the end of the day, it's not Yay or Nay for me but... Sort Of?

So, anyways. Do you share my feelings? Do too many Pop Culture references make you pause? Do they make you wonder on the longevity of the story? And in short... Yay or Nay?

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