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  1.  (10371.61)
    That's what I'm saying, though. It's not a matter of whether or not people have seen Citizen Kane. They still know the name, because the scholars and cinephiles keep the name alive. How many people have read Ulysses? Not a whole lot, I'm willing to bet. Yet it's still something that people who know about literature recognize by title, if not by content. I don't know if we have games yet that are worth remembering. It's not my field, and I'm not really qualified to say. But the question isn't whether the masses will care. They won't. But they won't care about anything else, either. They can be safely ignored, because ultimately it's the people that DO care that will keep works alive. It's just much more worthwhile to look at what the niche folks are interested in, because they have the longer attention span.

    And maybe just knowing something's name isn't enough to count as "still existing in 60 years." I think it is, though. It has to be. Otherwise, I honestly don't think we can look at culture and argue that ANYTHING has survived of the past. If our litmus test is whether or not the general masses still remember something, then our culture goes back, at best, two or three years.
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2011
    No. Mickey Mouse, Superman, Betty Boop, Elvis, the Monopoly boardgame, The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life - these things are all over 60 years old and are all widely known and familiar to the general public. You could go on and on with these things. The culture goes way back - you just have to pick your gaze up out of narrow niche interests and look at what is easily recognized by most people across siloed interests.

    Things in this class arise out of niches, but it's not easy for that to happen anymore, and you need to look at things in that light.

    Cultural curators matter, sure, but mostly to narrow communities of interest. There is still a mass culture, though, and it's fairly immune to curation.
  2.  (10371.63)
    But how many of those things exist largely because there are whole economic juggernauts working to keep them in the public eye? At least half of those are things that very large corporations have very large economic interests in. If mass culture is fairly immune to curation I doubt Disney would spend so much time, energy, and money preserving and protecting the image of The Mouse. How much of this is really mass culture, and how much of it is calculated, carefully targeted marketing designed to turn a work into a franchise into an empire? This sounds horrifically cynical, but it's something at least worth considering.

    Of course, I could be totally off base here, and it does strike me as a rather chicken-and-egg kind of question.

    Has anyone actually studied this phenomenon in detail? What really does come first--long-lasting interest, or careful marketing?

    And... again, is there really a mass culture anymore? I mean... I'm not sure I've seen It's A Wonderful Life all the way through, ever. If I did, I don't remember it. So, I don't know, maybe even those things that are supposedly universal cultural touchstones are becoming less and less universal.
  3.  (10371.64)
    I think you're really seriously underestimating the cultural impact of Citizen Kane, oddbill. Both 'Tiny Toons' and 'The Simpsons' have done entire episodes riffing on it. It's a huge cultural touchstone, even if the number of people who have seen it from beginning to end is comparatively small (though I'd argue it's not nearly as small as you seem to think). If you make a 'rosebud' joke most people will laugh, even if they don't quite get it, because it's practically part of the collective unconscious at this point.

    The thing about niche stuff is that niches always grow with time, and I think there are definitely games that will survive as part of the culture at large. I don't think BioShock will be one of them, and I honestly hope it isn't because in most ways it was a step back both narratively and gameplaywise from the games that it claimed to be the spiritual successor to, but Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda? These have left enough of a mark on enough people that they're very likely to seep into the culture at large over the course of the next fifty years, and to a degree already have. How many people that laugh at the 'It's dangerous to go alone' meme do you think have actually played the original Zelda?
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2011
    Heh. I know that meme, and only vaguely knew it came from a game. I've never played any version of Zelda.

    It may be that characters like Link or Mario may achieve Betty Boop levels of cultural perseverance.

    I'll stand by my stance on Citizen Kane though. People in the entertainment industry riff on Citizen Kane when they want other entertainment industry insiders to laugh. That's what Tiny Toons and the Simpsons did with it. That stuff passes right by most people though. It's like the people who laugh conspicuously loudly at the miserable puns in Shakespeare. It's just a way of signalling that you are smart enough or inside enough to know about that. It's not actually, in and of itself, all that universal or funny.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2011
    Ever had a swig of anything? Ever had a chat with someone? Do you wear a wrist-watch or use a safety razor?

    All of these things came from the First World War (often called the Great War and trust me, I've seen photos, it wasn't THAT "Great").

    "Chatting" used to mean sitting around, going through your clothes for lice. You'd talk, as you ran a fingernail along the seams or even held it up to a candle-flame. (That crackling noise means it's working!)


    Guessing about which video-game will be remembered is beside the point. The point IS you don't really GET to pick what gets remembered.

    I remember my pal (another word from WWI) and I talking about an old Bugs Bunny short, that referenced "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (if you haven't seen it, it's the one where Bogey demands to see their badges. With predictable results). My pal hadn't seen the film when he was, oh, I don't know, seven? So he never knew why some random dude kept coming up and putting the touch on Bugs Bunny for a "dollar for an American who's down on his luck". It wasn't until my pal went to Film School that he saw the film and went "Oh, yeah! I remember that from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon!"

    Bill's right about Citizen Kane, it'll be here in a hundred years. (I've always wanted to see a screening of it and at the end, exclaim "I GET IT NOW! ROSEBUD WAS THE FUCKING SLED! OH MY GOD, WHAT A FOOL I'VE BEEN!" And then shoot myself.)

    At the rate I'm running out of jokes, I'll go broke .... in about sixty-five years! (Ba-Dum-Bum)

    You kids and your internet and your computer vidya games and your gadgets .... ("gadget" - noun - popularized during .... yep.) .... try to take the long view of history. And get off my lawn.
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2011
    In the film survey class I'm in, four of thirty-odd students had seen Citizen Kane. They've now all seen it. If I were to take a random sampling of a hundred students from around campus, I'd probably get five or more who've seen it. I'm not really sure what that says about it's cultural relevance, but think about this: if/when you have kids, what would you show them? Citizen Kane would be on my list. How many of those things have come out in the last ten years? If we're talking games, the most recent that I would actually want my kids to experience would have to be Bastion. Will others feel the same way? I'm not so sure.
  4.  (10371.68)
    Putting aside what I said above about there probably being no "cultural mainstream" in 2060, if there was such a thing as a "cultural mainstream" then the things it would contain would entirely be dependent on what the people of 2060 want to say about themselves.

    By which I mean that the choice of what gets preserved in "common memory" (as opposed to things preserved in the minds of specialists) is not a result of how important something is to the people of 2011, but by whether it plays any significant role in "why the people/culture of 2060 is how it is".

    This is how popular art history works (as opposed to what is know by art historians) - particular paintings/movements are highlighted as a way to describe a linear journey from past to present. If a particularly stunning piece of artwork isn't on that path then it simply doesn't get included. It's all about storytelling, and nothing to do with an objective curation of the most impressive artworks/songs/games of any year.

    It relates to "Chekhov's gun":

    "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."

    Similarly artworks/songs/films/games in the collective story of "how we got where we are" that is also known as the "Cultural Mainstream" must play a role in the plot. {insert name of artwork/game/film here} may be a fantastic piece of work, but unless it can be shown to be an important part of the process of the evolution of {artform} between now and 2060 then it won't be included.

    And since we don't know what art/films/songs/games will be present in 2060 then we can't possibly claim that a particular thing is part of that journey.

    Edit: example: Van Gogh. I've sold more pictures than Van Gogh sold in his lifetime. He was, to all intents and purposes, utterly unknown and deemed insignificant by his contemporary society. However he became part of the "Cultural Mainstream" because his paintings play an important role in the part of story of art that links the (post-)impressionism of the 19th Century with the artwork of the 20th Century.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2011
    Okay, so we all largely agree that, not only will there NOT be a "Cultural mainstream" in 2060, there isn't one now. And probably never was.

    We also agree that ideas bubble up from unexpected places, if it's useful, it will be used and that video games WILL be important but the medium is still too new to have an auteur/genius/ Big Man to blaze a trail for lesser lights to follow, or even something our descendants won't find as quaint as, say, Pong (which I remember playing. It was fun! Ruined your tv, though ...).

    Kim Kardashian is the new Norma Talmadge. She won't be remembered any more than Norma is today (she was HUGE in her day, though). George Clooney WILL be remembered because, well, look at him.

    I predict sex-robots will be huge in the future. Sex-robots for all! Even those that believe it to be deviant! "I'm Partnered With A Sex-Robot - But We're Celibate!" Next on Oprah 2.0! (Oprah will be remembered in 50 years.) The strange, uncanny-valley versions we have now (RealDolls that Japanese bloke, people who own anime hug pillows) will seem bizarre and crude to Teens of the Future.

    What great films, made in the last ten-twenty years will survive? Fight Club? Yes. The Phantom Menace? Unfortunately, Yes. Whate else?

    Is music exciting enough anymore to make people recall it fondly? Am I going to have to listen to Auto-Tune again, possibly while I wear bell-bottom pants for the fourth fucking time? When does the Justin Bieber Retrospective/Rehabillitation begin?

    What troubling trends of today may plague the future?
    • CommentAuthorIsaacSher
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2011
    Let's see.

    FILM: I suspect PULP FICTION will be remembered as one of the key films of its era. Possibly the first MATRIX movie as well, but that's less clear to me. STAR WARS will remain noteworthy, at least the original trilogy, although I suspect history will continue to look askance at Lucas in regards to the prequels. STAR TREK is already on its way downhill, I don't think the film series will give it a long-term kick in the pants. We'd need a new TV show that's on par with TNG to really revive it, and I don't think that'll happen. I'd like to think that SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD will be well remembered in the future, but that's entirely wishful thinking on my part.

    TV: Ten years ago, I would've said CHEERS, but that show is all but forgotten now, Shelly Long becoming an egotistical has-been punchline, Kirstie Alley a Scientologist has-been, and the show generally been outshined in every way by FRASIER. FRASIER may be well remembered, but I don't know if I'd put money on that. Survivor will be a footnote in TV history for launching the reality craze, but not much beyond that. Professional Wrestling will still exist in some form, but probably all but unrecognizable to today's fans as today's stuff was compared to the old territory work of the 70's and earlier. FRIENDS will be remembered as being an extremely popular show, but lacking depth or substance, and being painfully Whitebread. THE COSBY SHOW of the 80's will be a footnote in the history of American race relations. People will still know who Bugs Bunny is, but not variations on the Looney Toons like Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, or Tazmania. It wouldn't shock me if the Timm/Dini BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES is fondly remembered in the future, and may even be the definitive version of Batman that people know in the future, but other Timm-verse shows like Superman and Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond will fade into obscurity. POKEMON will have some enduring legacy, but probably toned down from the current level of constant new additions to the franchise. For some reason, I have a feeling that IRON CHEF will have some lasting impact, for the kitsch value if nothing else. I also suspect that DOCTOR WHO will endure in some form, as the regeneration gimmick allows for generational reinvention, as we've seen with the last six years of the new version of the show. MONTY PYTHON will still be remembered, as new nerds will discover it at a certain age and quote it incessantly, giving older nerds nearby uncomfortable reminders of when they used to be young and quote it incessantly, and the cycle will continue.

    VIDEO GAMES: I agree that video games haven't had a Citizen Kane yet. The closest we've come to it is, in my opinion, not BIOSHOCK but SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS. Bioshock is a fine game, but not everyone's cup of tea. I have yet to hear anyone ever say a bad thing about SHADOW, and it got brought up constantly in the recent Roger Ebert "are games art?" kerfluffle. If the MMO paradigm survives, then World of Warcraft will be remembered. If not, then not. Popular games like HALO or CALL OF DUTY are certainly very popular, but I don't quite see them becoming cultural touchstones decades down the line.

    COMICS: This begs the question of "will comics even still exist in sixty years", but assuming they do, I think that ALL-STAR SUPERMAN will be this decade's answer to WATCHMEN -- the superhero comic that gets lauded as relatively high art. SCOTT PILGRIM will be remembered by comic historians as noteworthy, but the general public will ask "who's he?". SPIDER-MAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN, and *maybe* THE X-MEN will be the recognizable icons, but our current notions of canon will be shot completely to hell. Personally, I suspect that in the next several decades, attempts to create a continuous canon will simply be abandoned, and people will tell stories that try to reinforce the basic essence of the myth rather than deal with minute detail -- not unlike ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, for example.

    Anyway, that's my sleep-deprived theory.
  5.  (10371.71)
    As interesting as discussions like this are, and I've loved reading a lot of the comments here, I think it is impossible to accurately predict these things.

    One thing to keep in mind, though, about thinking our current pop culture is too shallow or ephemeral to make anything lasting: To Literati at the time (and particulary their own author) nothing was more shallow and ephemeral than the Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle and his contemporaries knew they were popular, they just didn't think they had anything of lasting value in them.
  6.  (10371.72)
    Popular mass culture of one generation becomes the pinnacle of high art three or four generations down the line. Shakespeare plays were the equivalent of Everybody Loves Raymond at the time.

    That's why I think it's very premature to dismiss today's video games in a discussion like this.
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2011
    I think the only thing we've managed to agree upon in this thread is that we can't agree upon things (both in this discussion and in culture as a whole).
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2011
    I've actually really enjoyed this thread. Even though I agree that we can't actually answer the original question, it's been a fun thing to explore.
  7.  (10371.75)
    Frankly, I never thought I'd get any kind of consensus in here about... well, anything, but this idea is just a very interesting one to explore.
  8.  (10371.76)
    Just to add one small little bit to this convo, here are two different articles discussing video games in a broader social context that at least back up the notion of video gaming's endured cultural relevance in the future.
    • CommentAuthorTimbo
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2011
    It is worth noting that both Citizen Kane and It's a Wonderful Life were relative flops upon release and only latter critical and public acclaim won them their longevity. Indeed some odd copyright issue menat that IAWL was shown on most TV channels in the US year on year as it was (allegedly) free of charge.

    It is possible that working on this model that Alvin & The Chipmunks may be around 60 years from now!

    The longevity of products and 'culture@ in the present day is limited by the sheer volume of stuff being made and specific marketing approaches and target groups. Twilight has been a smash but does anyone over 20 give a fuck? Will they still give on in 20 years time? Does Harry Potter have the legs to be a Rupert the Bear (UK) , Mickey Mouse or LOTR?

    Our own diversity is making our cultural products less likely to persist. That said I love the fact that so many different groups exist and that they are enabled/allowed to comic con, emo fest or goth it up as they feel fit.

    I have really enjoyed this thread....