I don't understand it. When I was growing up, I knew about old movies/music/television. Is that just that I was exposed to a different set of pop culture icons because I was raised by my grandparents?
One of the examples is at "RHPS" (Rocky Horror Picture Show): one of the lines that is traditionally shouted by the audience is during the "Time Warp" dance sequence. When the character Columbia begins her tap dance routine, climaxing with a whirl of spins, the audience would yell "Eat your heart out, Ann Miller!". Well, time passed and newer "virgins" began to come to the show and hear everyone else yell that line. Eventually, the older people left the audience and only a younger crowd remained. Eventually, the kids added "Who the hell is Ann Miller?" at the end of this particular string of dialogue...
Do these kids ever watch AMC? Hell, even AMC is showing mostly modern movies lately! How the hell is a kid to see the great MGM musicals?
(Of course, as a Sociology experiment, here at the DeMarco Cinemas, we've changed that particular refrain. I wanted to see if the kids would still yell something completely by rote "because that's what they're supposed to do" and at least make it funny to me, so we changed it in our theatre to "Eat your heart out Dawn Calendo" (since she used to play Columbia at the Harwan in Mt. Ephraim, NJ)...and the kids still don't know "who the hell is Dawn Calendo" but at least locally, one of my friends is a RHPS-"Audience Participation" line...) -- This also illustrates my feelings that most people are just sheep and will gladly follow the herd mentality.
Of course, it has been pointed out to me that not only do the members of Generation Y not share pop culture references/icons with us (Generation X or our parents, the Baby Boomers), they barely share their pop culture with EACH OTHER any more!
Back in the older days, when we went home to watch television at night, for prime-time television, we really had only THREE choices: ABC, NBC or CBS. Sure there might have been programming on other channels, but for the most part that's what we watched. It was easy to guess that on a Tuesday night in the last seventies and early eighties, most kids our age would probably be glued to "Happy Days", "Laverne and Shirley" and "Three's Company"...so you knew that there was a good chance that you'd be able to discuss the funny parts with your friends at the bus stop or at the cafeteria table at lunch or whatever. We all immediately knew Mork's various catchphrases and what Willis "was talkin' 'bout". (then again, in addition to the three networks, most of us had televisions that actually had a DIAL on it...that went only from 2-13 and had that mysterious U on it).
Nowadays, if you discount everything else and just talk about television, current cable and satellite line-ups may have channel listings in the triple digits (though a good portion may be devoted to "pay-per-view" and multiple copies of premium channels(HBO 1/2/3/etc.).
Even if you are only looking at the major networks, they still have only a 16% chance of watching what their friends watch (since in addition to ABC, CBS and NBC, we now have FOX, WB and UPN)...
...now factor in such cable favorites as Comedy Central, Cartoon Network (whose "Adult Swim" is getting climbing numbers) and MTV (and it's various incarnations) and there's so much more compartmentalizing of our current pop-culture.
...okay, now factor all those other things in: movies/DVDs, music, extra-curricular activities (sports, etc.), reading (comic books or prose), and the biggie: the internet and you've got the most compartmentization we've probably ever had. Yes, I too enjoy the fact that there is a newsgroup, website, message board, LJ-community, etc. for just about every diverse taste one can have. It's nice to know that if there's a particular interest I have that none of my live "in person" friends share that I can find many just as real "pen pals" that share that interest.
However, imagine what the world is going to be like for the NEXT generation of kids who are just coming up now (the pre-teens) who have more on-line friends than off-line friends, who can barely spell 'cause it's so much easier/quicker to type ROTFL instead of "rolling on the floor laughing"..., who don't just go outside and play ball or ride a bicycle 'cause it's better to stay inside and play video games (in fact, they don't know how to lose a game fairly 'cause they've been taught to simply press the "reset" button) and who won't be able to have truly great nostalgic conversations with their friends when they are my/our age because none of them will really share any common bonds...