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#1 bookworm12

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 06:02 PM

So what do you all think of using popculture references in your writing or in books you have already read?

Honestly, I don't like them. I don't like it if a book mentions the name of a band, a movie, a show, a brand name anything, or even another book. In books I've read where there are multiple references, I feel like it dates the book or is going to date the book. Take for example the Princess Diaries Series. Good books, but there was a lot of popculture references and as I read them I feel like it really dates the book. And I've read books from the 70's that I didn't even realize were from the 70's until I looked at the copyright date because they didn't use a bunch of popculture references that tell you how old the book is.

In my writing I don't use any.
I was just wondering what anyone else thought.


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#2 Bookworm923

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 06:21 PM

I agree, at first I didn't mind, and there are some things that are classics that won't date the books. But generally, I don't use too many of those.
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#3 StrawberryPrincess

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 08:09 AM

I don´t like it too much either. I don´t mind it when charakters talk about classics like "Gone with the wind" or something but I hate it when they talk about "Twilight" or Miley Cyrus. It always seems as though the author just tries to be "in". Meg does it a lot and I don´t really like it. Which doesn´t mean that I don´t like Meg´s books. :)
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#4 xx.Phoebe.xx

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 09:29 AM

I don't really mind popular culture references...because I do like them. And I think Meg did it a lot in the Princess Diaries because well, it's a diary written by a teenage girl. And Mia totally loves movies, TV shows and all that crap. But I honestly don't mind those references. :)

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#5 PurpleBelly.

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 04:57 AM

I don't mind popculture references, especially at a teenage point of view because realistically that's what most teenage kids talk about. It shows understanding, I think, and makes it all the more realistic. Of course this is my opinion.



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#6 xx.Phoebe.xx

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 08:26 AM

^ Exactly. But I LOVE them. :heartbeat:

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#7 Lily_de_Silva

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 08:35 AM

I don't really mind them :krakrani:

Personally, like it has been said, I think it adds a more realistic tone to the book. Teenage girls talk a lot about popculture. And it doesn't really matter to me that it "dates" a book. Every single book has something that dates them in a way, and that's not going to make me like them less. It's even kind of funny when I reread the Princess Diaries book and come across a really outdated popculture event. It makes me laugh every time :lol:
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#8 xx.Phoebe.xx

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 08:37 AM

^ LOL. Same here. I laughed during Forever Princess when Meg wrote about Vanessa Hudgens's nude photos. It cracked me up! :D

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#9 PrincessLaci

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 09:07 AM

I know what you mean. They don't really annoy me, but I see what you mean about making the book dated. And you're completely right, it does. At the same time, most people our writing for their generation and probably don't expect to make a classic out of a YA book. xD

I try to avoid putting them in my writing. I might put something a little looser, like a band without a song name. Saying something like "a Britney Spears song" gives away a time period, but it's a lot more open than saying "sang along to Toxic by Britney Spears on the radio". Britney Spears has been around for years and she still has music coming out, so while it does give you an idea of the period, so do mentioning computers and cell phones.

I think it really depends on the author and what they want to do. I don't mind them, but I try to avoid putting them into my work.


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#10 Lawliet

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 12:58 PM

...Eeh. It really depends on the kind of book you're reading. For example, in the book The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (oh god, if you haven't read that, you mustmustmust) there are multiple pop culture references. To things such as songs (mainly by The Smiths) and to books, like To Kill A Mockingbird. They fit, because the book is written in the perspective of a fiteen year-old boy. But then again, references used to describe characters themselves (for example "she looked just like Greta Salpeter, only she had black hair!") are really annoying to me. >.<


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#11 thehealthyalternative

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 01:01 PM

Meg I know uses a lot of pop references, and sometimes the publishers will go through and change them to keep them more current. In the first couple PD books she referenced Britney Spears and in newer editions that has been changed to Ashlee Simpson, for example.

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#12 x--JinxedAngel

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 01:18 PM

Hmm. I understand with the whole "dates the book". I think that's true. I was like, "Uhh... I've never heard of that before." Lol. But PD was written in a teenage girl's perspective so, it was realistic. I avoid them if I can. Unless they were something classic like The Beatles or something. Most people still listen to them.

Okay, I sound like a weirdo. I shall go now. :P

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#13 Toxic_Energy

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 07:58 PM

I don't really care about them. As long as they're not overwhelming, I don't want a few of them in reading. I never use them in my writing, though.
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#14 Princess_Missy

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 12:08 AM

I don't mind them. I've used a couple, mostly song names. I think it does date a book, yeah, but (as someone already said) so does using terms like iPod, computer and the like. I have come across a couple in Meg's books that I don't know, but it doesn't really bother me. The only time it does is when the author bases a whole paragraph or something on that reference, which doesn't happen often. I guess it's the author's choice. I think it doesn't really matter, as long as it doesn't take up a big part of the book.

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#15 Allthingsstellar

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 03:34 AM

I like them. It makes me identify with the book. and as for dating the book, I think that's okay. You could know anyway when it's written and stuff.

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#16 JaniceLynnBest

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:30 AM

[Opps, I made a newcomers mistake, I just posed this under new topics for debate before realizing it was already here. So...um...my very first post in the right place]

Pop-Culture items in Literature

All of my favorite writers are doing it. Ms Cabot is doing it. I sometimes do it. But should we? For example:

"This morning my husband texted my palm trio to make sure I wasn't going to sleep all day. I microwaved a cup of starbucks, poured in store-brand, not-organic, half and half into it and took the cup and set it down next to my mac. I turned itunes to catpower's moonpix and checked my various emails, as an adjunct, every school gives me a different address, then facebook. And on facebook I started looking for the writer who has become my number one guilty pleasure --more than bummed camel crushes --more than Giradelie dark chocolate --more than $30 concealer from Sephora and I started to wonder if I should consider this writer a guilty pleasure."

Could this paragraph, if it had a time machine, go back 20 years and be understood by anybody? If it ventured 100 years into the future would anyone remember what facebook or any of the above mentioned brands were? Right now though all these brands, all these pop-culture items, dress up the narrator like a barbie doll.

palm trio: smart phone but not top of the line: middle class
Starbucks: liberal elitist
mentioning cheap half and half in great detail: aspires to someday buy all organic food stuffs, also not vegan
mac/itunes: independent from the dominate establishment
catpower's moonpix: college was a longtime ago and it included weed
adjunct: not yet established in her field
bummed menthol cigarettes: at odds with her own health consciousness, possibly from a black urban setting
giradelie dark chocolate: serious, sensuous, doesn't ef around with her pleasure
$30 concealer: possibly less than middle class if she is choosing between make-up and books and calulating the cost of each.

So there. A character based on her popular culture brands. But is it popular culture branding that keeps Meg Cabot a chic-lit writer instead of a Pulitzer-prize winning one? Sure she is much better paid than those academic achievers, but will she be remembered like they might be? _An American Childhood_ by Annie Dillard or _All American Girl_, which is more likely to show up on a reading list 50 years from now? And is it only Pop-culture brands that separate them?
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#17 the_tall_girl

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 02:57 PM

As much as you can't stop pop culture references in writing, I don't really think you should do it often or intentionally. If you want a powerful, timeless piece, pop culture will only limit that. Sure, we like to read ow about work written earlier with, er, 1850s 'pop culture' references to see how it was back then and get a feel, etc etc. (Because I mean, it does have it's positive seeing as it's preserving a time period in history and life.) However, these references do nothing for the actual story or book itself. They don't add anything important to the story, therefore they are irrelevant and of no use.

A story really ought to be about feelings, people, etc. Not useless crap and references that add nothing, and I mean nothing, to the story. Certainly, however, this is all very subjective. There are different types of writing and all should be pursued. But speaking personally, pop culture references add absolutely nothing to the story and if I may say so, at some level it feels like it 'cheapens' the story.

Pop culture is added into a story regardless. It's something we can't help. "She took the train and rode all night." Maybe 200 years from now people will go like, "Oh yeah. They had trains back then. Now we have... flying cars." You know what I mean? It's broad, it gives a feel, it is what it is. That's good. That's preserving a time period. We can't escape it. But adding crap about facebook and... like, brands and itty bitty tiny details is ridiculous.

But to each his own.
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#18 PrincessLaci

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 03:44 PM

We were supposed to having flying cars by now. This is such a rip off.


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#19 m0nkey_luvs

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 11:16 PM

I have to say, though, there are times when they come in handy, for instance, like in AAG when she says that Kris Parks is "decked out head to foot in Abercrombie and Fitch"- that shows that Kris Parks obviously has a lot of money. That book was written 8 years ago, and brands don't tend to go away too fast. However, when it comes to using famous people's names, that can really date it. When she says how Catherine is obsessed with Heath Ledger, well, Heath Ledger is dead...

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#20 the_tall_girl

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:09 AM

But I guess you have to make a choice. Do you want a book that will last for a couple (maybe dozens of) years, or do you want to write a timeless book? A potential classic?

I don't want to sound like a *%^## but who do you think Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot will be remembered like Virginia Wolf, Mark Twain, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, etc?

I mean this is a very very minor thing. I'm sure there are great novels with teeny tiny details. But few classics actually do. Why? Because they're irrelevant and add nothing to the story.

But I don't know. I sound really pretentious. I should not be giving advice on writing. There are no rules to it and I should shut the *#&$%% up, really. It's all a creative process which no one really should have a say in it but you. So at the end of the day, please disregard all that I'm saying, because it's you and your writing. I have nothing to do with it.

It all depends on the kind of writer you want to be and writing style that you choose for a particular book. There's no right or wrong.
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#21 BrieBear

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:42 AM

I love popculture references because it makes things more relatable. Although it does "date the novel" there are plenty of classics that reference certain things that "date" it that most people overlook these days. Or novels that are a comment on things going on at the time that are considered classics, when at the time they were considered popculture novels.

I also think that most authors these days don't worry about becoming classics. It's become an entertainment business, and less of a "I'm high and mighty, look how educated and witty I am" business. Writing used to be completely male dominated because they were the only ones allowed to get the education required for it. The women who are considered classics are considered so because there weren't all that many women writers around at the time. For all we know, there could very well be references to things going on at the time (well, except for the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen who are known for living under a rock in the first place). But how would we know, since we didn't live back then?

Popculture in a book can still allow it to be a classic, just with added nostalgia. I'm also not writing the next Great American Novel, so I don't particularly care. I'm here to entertain, and if I can make one girl who's trying to get away from the screaming voices of her parents escape into my books, and then laugh when I make a popculture reference, well. That's a classic to me.
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#22 IlovePavlov13

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:45 AM

Uh... Hehe, I'm not a pop culturish person. Though, I do include manga, books and random science facts. (Mainly because those shows are cool. :D)
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#23 the_tall_girl

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:09 AM

Well, like I said, it all depends on the type of writer you want to be and the type of writing you want to produce. What I'm saying is that there's a distinction between books with pop culture references and those without it. There is no correct choice between the two. Personally speaking, I've done both. Both are fun to write, but after a while I decided that if I was going to write, I was going to make it mean something--whatever that means on my own terms.

So yes. :D I think I'm done now. Finally, lol.
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#24 BrieBear

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:17 AM

If this forum had a 'like' button, I'd like your post hahaha.
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#25 m0nkey_luvs

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 10:40 AM

The thing that I mainly think dates a book is years. When the author puts in "in this year she yadda yadda yadda", then if the book is read in the next ten years the characters could be in their twenties or thirties.

I read a book a long time ago (sixth grade I think) that was supposed to take place in the future. It was written in, like, the sixties, and it was hilarious how it dated every event that happened. "In 1994 they discovered a way to inhabit Mars. In 2002 they started shipping people to Mars as extra living space. This book is taking place in 2015".

I know that has nothing to do with popculture, I'm just saying hat if you're looking for something that really dates a book, go for years.

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#26 JaniceLynnBest

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:12 PM

I love Douglas Copeland. He uses pop-culture references and branding. And he is taken very seriously as writer. He coined the term "Generation X." And when you take contemporary fiction in college there's a good chance you'll have to read him. His book "Mircoserfs" uses legos, Robitussin, McDonald's, Bill Gates, and countless other references, it was written (shoot, I'm getting old) almost 15 years ago and is still in-print and well-stocked in bookstores. I don't think he used any more pop-culture stuff than Meg Cabot does now, but she is not taken seriously and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Is there a "deep thoughts" to "delightful entertainment" ratio she somehow hasn't balanced yet? And her YA books are full of morals, just not the same morals the Babysitters' Club, Sweet Valley Twins, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women gave to me. Cabot pushes kindness to the earth and its inhabitants, free and total expression, safe sex, and awareness of blind consumerism and it's dangers. I think these are great messages for the young and I don't want them to disappear. So.... Multiple Choice Question:

Are Meg Cabot's books not taken as serious works of literature because?
A. She's a women
B. She uses too any pop culture items
C. She only aspires to be a chic-lit writer
D. the whole deep thoughts vs delight ratio thing.
E. Something else entirely
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#27 the_tall_girl

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 02:13 PM

They're not taken seriously because of the content. She aspires to young girls. What she writes about proves to not be intellectually stimulating. There's nothing... serious about her books. So how can they be taken seriously? She writes about boy meets girl. Girl has period. Or girl does something typically funny that relates to the entire female population. And it's totally fine. It's a choice. She makes people happy with her books, obviously. Meg Cabot is simply living her life as she desires. But her books aren't great literature to be remembered for years and years to come. And why should they? She's writing to teenage girls. They don't have anymore appeal outside of that. Ten years from now will we remember these books and reread them over and over during the time span? Chances are no.
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#28 m0nkey_luvs

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:10 AM

As far as music goes, I think it depends on the artist. For instance, if you mention Justin Bieber's "Baby"... well, Justin Bieber probably isn't going to be considered timeless and most likely will not be listened to fifty years in the future. But if you mention The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", everyone knows who The Beatles are, and probably will still know who they are many years from now.

-Anna

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#29 ran

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 05:25 PM

Hmm...in my current novel I help explain the theme with popcultre references. The theme is boy-girl friendship so I compare their friendship so Vada and Tomas J. in my girl and Leslie and Jessie in Bridge to Terebithia.
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#30 Pretty.Odd.

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 04:49 PM

Oh, I LOVE pop culture references! I use them a lot, mainly because that IS my character. She's obsessed with music - LIKE ME! I write for myself. I don't TRY to write for other people, nor am I trying to write a "timeless classic." I'm just writing to write, and that may involve pop culture references! =D

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#31 Jcrazy

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 05:26 PM

I like them, but I prefer they be vague. Like if there's a sentence that says "And while I was on Facebook, listening to my Taylor Swift CD, my iPhone rang," I find that annoying xD But I think it's fine to mention things that date a book occasionally :]
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#32 Pretty.Odd.

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 08:07 PM

Oh, I LOVE pop culture references! I use them a lot, mainly because that IS my character. She's obsessed with music - LIKE ME! I write for myself. I don't TRY to write for other people, nor am I trying to write a "timeless classic." I'm just writing to write, and that may involve pop culture references! =D

xoxo,
~Pretty.Odd.Girl.

 

Past Me, I have some issues with this. I understand you used to write in a completely different genre and it was 100% fluff, but you must know that pop culture references are not going to make your writing all the much more personal. You do not love them. Believe me. In two years you will see that you will avoid them as much as possible. Just wait...

 

xoxoArtemis


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#33 VABarnes

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 03:59 PM

I personally believe that loosely used pop culture referencing can add a personal quality.

If you consider some classic books and mention to different social events they will be attending, the dances that they would preform etc its all a cultural reference for that time period.

Now however those scocial events have been replaced with prom, the music has diversified.

If you consider Anne Rices Interview With A Vampire. The journalist used a tape recorder. That piece of technology is out dated now as are the cars etc mentioned in the book. That in itself can address a book more than a pop culture reference.

As well as those writing a vampire novel, the moment you definitively say that he's/she's 113 born in the 1900's you have just dated the book. Take the original Transformers cartoon movie, the opening line is "in the year 2005" (yes incredibly sad that I watch these things and I won't even pretend to use my son as an excuse I genuinely watch them) that film is very out dated but still enjoyable to watch.

Pop culture references are harmless in moderation, however books that are loaded with them I absolutely won't read.
A reference to a band or a film has no impact to a book for me. A paragraph long description to why the character finds , Ryan Reynolds, attractive however will put me off.

So I guess it's like chocolate really, a little is good but eat too much and you don't feel right.

Vic x
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