Lucky There’s A Family Guy!
Menchu and I like to watch the cartoon Family Guy. It’s both funny and weird and usually makes us laugh even if it’s a “scratch your head” kind of laugh. It’s also packed with endless references to American pop culture .
I enjoy explaining the pop culture references to Menchu and I think (I hope!) she enjoys me explaining them.
The other night, we were watching the episode of Family Guy titled Death Is A Bitch.
Death comes to the Griffin’s house and winds up spraining his ankle. Lois Griffin, the mother, tells Death he has to stay on the couch until his ankle heals and Peter, the father, says, “But what will we tell Mr. Roper?”
That’s one of many references from Family Guy to the long-running sitcom Three’s Company. That comedy show was about two women who convince their straight-laced landlord (Mr. Roper) to allow a man to live with them by telling him that the man is gay.
Peter’s reference was like what the women said on Three’s Company . “But what will we tell Mr. Roper?!”
It was funny to hear it in a new context but it was only funny if you “got” the reference.
Say It Right
Pop Culture Slang
We all like to be communicated with in the phrases from our own pop culture.
There’s a scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan where the American soldiers are forcing a captured German soldier to dig what he believes is his own grave. He stops and looks up at them and, in desperation, says, “Please, I like America! Fancy schmancy! What a cinch! Go fly a kite! Cat got your tongue! Hill of beans! Betty Boop, what a dish. Betty Grable, nice gams!”
All of those were pop culture slang sayings that were popular in America at the time. He was trying to convince the American soldiers that he really loved America by communicating with them in their own culture.
Is it a ball or not?
Like a lot of foreigners, I searched online for Tagalog “sugar sayings” that I could send to Menchu. I wanted to communicate my love for her with references she would recognize. I found a really nice and very popular saying on a great site that explained a lot about Filipino culture.
But the word “bola” means “ball” and while I learned that “make bola” in Filipino culture means to say untruths but very sweetly, during my research on the phrase I learned that there were a lot of young Fil-Am kids who thought the “ball” part meant, as it can in American culture, “fun” as in, “I love you and it’s no fun.” (“I love you and it’s not a ball.”)!
So we have to be careful with our pop culture references and be sure we communicate what we think we are!
Three’s Company photo is in the public domain and found at: WikiMedia Commons .