Pop Culture Call and Response?
December 4, 2009 9:38 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word or a term for a pop-culture handshake?

If I wave my hand and tell you 'these aren't the droids you're looking for,' you might repeat me and walk away. If I say "Do you know how many time zones are in the Soviet Union" you might respond with something along the lines of "it's ridiculous, it's not even funny." People can go on for minutes just quoting the Simpsons at each-other.

We've absorbed a lot of pop culture, enough so that responding in reference comes easily and freely. Surely there must be some sort of term for this.
posted by flatluigi to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's basically "Is there a term for the common situation in which two people demonstrate their awareness of a shared meme?" Which I was first tempted to say was the whole point of memetics but now that I'm thinking about it I guess there isn't an obvious word for it.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2009

You know when one person makes a pop culture reference and another person responds with a follow-up reference to the same thing? flatluigi is asking if there's a term for that. I don't know of one.
posted by contraption at 9:51 PM on December 4, 2009

A Reference Exchange?

Push the button, Frank.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:52 PM on December 4, 2009

A shibboleth?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:01 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

Seconding shibboleth.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:16 PM on December 4, 2009

Yeah, shibboleth.
posted by hattifattener at 10:21 PM on December 4, 2009

Or, on consideration, maybe not. The phrases themselves might count, but I think it's the pattern of exchange that you're asking about, right?
posted by hattifattener at 10:24 PM on December 4, 2009

I don't know, but can we call it Do Re Meme?
posted by scody at 10:29 PM on December 4, 2009 [11 favorites]

I think shibboleth still works for this. It's a way of identifying a group of like-minded folks. Random House says

a peculiarity of pronunciation, behavior, mode of dress, etc., that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons.

And American Heritage says

A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another.

A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword.

posted by bluedaisy at 10:31 PM on December 4, 2009

As the Wikipedia entry for shibboleth suggests, 'cultural touchstone' is probably a pretty good term. It's broader than a shibboleth, but less specific than an in-joke.

Aside: it's interested me for years how 'The Simpsons' has almost totally replaced wider pop-culture, at least in the circles I usually run in (18~45 yo). I can say "It's still good! It's still good!", or talk about my father and his pointless onion stories, and people will get my meaning in the situation.

(Ignore that; I'm just dismayed I get strange looks when I say things like "dy-no-MITE!", "Na-Nu Na-Nu", or "Shazbot!" around them…)
posted by Pinback at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2009

I was considering 'shibboleth' too, but that's more of a code that's specific to very small groups, no? The group in question is a lot wider than that.

and might I add that I'm disappointed nobody told me not to call them Shirley
posted by flatluigi at 11:06 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I thought of it belatedly and was disappointed in myself
posted by scody at 11:22 PM on December 4, 2009

cultural call-and-response?
recognition signal?
posted by salvia at 12:10 AM on December 5, 2009

A shibboleth is not specific to a small group. In the Bible (Judges 12), the Ephraimites could not pronounce the word "shibboleth," and the Gileadites used it to identify and slaughter 42,000 of them.

Similarly, in WWII in the Pacific, the US troops liked to use passwords like "lollipop" and "lallapalooza" as it was almost impossible for Japanese troops to pronounce them correctly.
posted by musofire at 8:36 AM on December 5, 2009

We should coin a term for it, and see how long it takes to spread through the internet and become a pop-culture handshake of its own.

@@? (AT-AT)
The Entirenet?
The Simpson?

posted by tzikeh at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2009

« Older Vedi, Vici, Vent-y?   |   Belle and Sebastian Cover Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.