You may not know this about me, but I am pained whenever I drop a big name and get blank stares in response. Okay, honestly, if I mention Jean Arthur or Joseph Cotten, I don't expect anyone to know who I'm talking about because while they were big stars in their day, they didn't have the staying power of some others and as a result they are no longer a part of the public consciousness. On the other hand, you have people like Frank Sinatra. Now he was a huge star in his day, he's a legend now, and in my mind he is one of those larger-than-life celebrities that everyone should know about. Yet when I mention him to some of my friends, this is how it usually goes:
Me (stops, listens): Oh, that's Frankie.
Me: Frank Sinatra. Listen.
Friend (listens, looks at me blankly, blinks): Who?
Me (jaw drops): Frank Sinatra. The singer.
Friend: Oh, yeah. I think I've heard of him, somewhere.
It's one of the most painful conversations ever, and it happens all the time. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I don't expect everyone to love Cary Grant, but I do expect them to know who he is, at the very least. Humphrey Bogart? Of course you should know that name! I only became interested in old movies a few years ago, but even I knew Katharine Hepburn by age nine.
Speaking of which, and this is on a much smaller scale, there are some things and people that Texans should know about, specifically the singers and songwriters of our fair state: Waylon, and Willie, and the boys [again, catch the reference, get a cookie]... and Lyle, naturally. Not recognizing these names, in my mind, would be similar to living in L.A. your whole life and never knowing about Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts.
It's only been in the past few years that I've realized that everyone my age who comes from a fairly average family is not as well-versed in pop culture as I am. Apparently it's unusual these days for kids to grow up listening to their parents' music. Case in point: I mentioned Three Dog Night to a friend recently, and she responded that, yeah, her dad loves them, but she's never listened. Wait, what?
When it comes to music, of course, I don't have such ridiculous expectations for people. Sure, I expect people to listen to good music (not such a safe assumption as you might think), but I don't assume that they'll know all the singers and groups that I know, and I don't expect that I'll know all of the singers that my friends listen to, either. Everyone has different taste, and everyone is exposed to different music. I do, however, expect that a lot of the music they were exposed to early in life was dictated by their parents. Until I became a teenager and started actively seeking out music for myself, there were basically two ways that I discovered new music: listening to the radio and raiding my parents' stash.
What it all comes down to, people, is that everybody comes to the table with a different perspective on entertainment because we've all grown up consuming it in different ways. As for me, I've loved growing up in a household where punishment meant going to bed early... and missing an episode of whatever scifi show my dad was watching with us kids. It wasn't very fun at the time, but now it makes a great story that's guaranteed to bring puzzled looks my way. I'm glad that the soundtrack to my preteen years was Lyle Lovett, Jim Croce, and the soundtrack to The Big Chill (even though I didn't see that film till years later). Unconsciously, I think there was a time when I assumed that all kids grew up learning about music and good movies from their parents and the adults around them, but thinking about it now, I realize how naive I was to think that way.
I was very lucky to be home-schooled along with my two older siblings. Now for some families, home-schooling does not work, and, honestly, some home-schooling families are just plain weird, but for us, it worked, and one of the perks was spending time with our parents and grandparents and learning from them: everything from the appreciation of lemon meringue pie to a basic knowledge of classic rock by age 15.
If episodes of Firefly and Farscape weren't turned into your bed time stories, I can't hold that against you, but still... you should know Frank Sinatra.
Image Sources: Image I, Image II, Image III, Image IV, Image V, Image VI