Mrs. Pynchon would agree

From an Editor and Publisher article about how traditional journalists may be alienating younger readers with outdated pop culture references.

The Times is a citadel of retrotalk, on its Op-Ed page especially. Columnist Frank Rich once commented that George W. Bush had “a slight, almost Chauncey Gardiner quality,” referring to Peter Sellers’ simple-minded character in the 1979 movie “Being There.”

The Queen of Retrotalk is Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Dozens of examples I’ve harvested from her columns include “Nosey Parker,” “Ma Barker,” “Norma Desmond,” “Palin’s Imelda Marcos moment” and “Hillary’s inner Eve Harrington.” To describe how it felt to drive through Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and see no women on the streets, Dowd invoked a “Rod Serling–type feeling.”

I’m not sure this is the media’s biggest problem. I find familiarity with American’s TV history to be quite valuable when considering politics.



  1. 1

    A Screaming Comes Across the Sky spews:

    Mrs. Pynchon would surely agree that Jon DeVore is an outdated subcultural referent.

  2. 4

    Ozsea1 spews:

    OMFG !!! I used to watch New Zoo Revue when I was a little kid…I am laughing so hard there’s tears in my eyes !!!

  3. 5

    YellowPup spews:


    Either I’m not as old as I thought or else I was out of touch with pop culture even when I was young enough for it to matter.

  4. 6


    *sighs* Yes, I got all of those pop references. But then, I’m of a certain age (can you say almost 50).

    I think, though, that this isn’t a new phenomenon. I remember reading the newspaper in my teens and twenties, and being puzzled by pop culture references. And back then, we didn’t even have the internet to look things up.

    I think it’s mostly an issue that by the time a journalist gets to an age to actually be read in a mainstream paper, they are also of a certain age. Anyone, though, can become a commentator on the internet and attract big crowds. They don’t have to pay their dues, as the old timers would say. You don’t have to painstakingly work your way up the ladder. Just have enough money for a domain and hosting and some knowledge of SEO, and if you have any talent at all, you’ll draw a following.

    Let’s face it folks, like all other industries, journalism has changed over time and will continue to change. Paper newpapers will go the way of drive-in theaters (and soon probably, movie theaters as well), and people’s main source of news will become the internet. Which I applaud as I haven’t actually bought a newspaper in almost 10 years.

  5. 7


    *laughs* and while I was typing all that the video finally loaded. HR PUFFINSTUFF! I loved that when I was a kid! OMG, I’m so old.