By Ken Lass
Are you in fear of losing touch with pop culture? I have a name for that. I call it hipophobia. I made it up. It’s not rational, I know, but for some strange reason, many folks feel if they don’t maintain at least a working knowledge of modern trends, they will turn into a grumpy, old curmudgeon who has nothing to do but revel in the good old days, constantly complaining about the way things are now. It may already be too late for you. But there’s hope. I present this column as a public service.
My favorite way to stay “hip” (Lesson #1, you’re probably not hip if you use the word “hip”) is to frequently search for the top ten lists of contemporary items to see how many you still recognize. Top ten current songs, top ten movies, streaming services, annoying lawyer commercials, celebrities doing reverse mortgage ads, you get the idea. This time of year, the Halloween season, provides a great opportunity to see where you stand. Every October, make it a point to consult the internet for the top ten Halloween costumes for kids. After all, if you can still recognize the characters the children are wearing when they show up at your door trick or treating, you can’t be too far out of touch.
You might be pleased to know that seven of the top ten costumes this year are traditional favorites. Number one was the Puppy Pals cartoon characters. I’m all over that one, spending many hours with the grandkids watching Skye, Marshall, and Chase. The Justice League characters (Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash) were second. Would you believe number three was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? How many folks under sixty would even know who that is? Judy Garland would be proud to know her sweet portrayal in the 1939 movie still endures. (I hear you younger readers saying, ‘Judy, who?’)
Other familiar costumes in the top ten include Darth Vader, complete with a laser sword. Heavy breathing is not included. Number seven was T-Rex. It seems our children’s fascination with dinosaurs never wanes. However, this is an inflatable, full-body costume that looks like it weighs a ton. I’d be afraid my child would collapse from dehydration in that thing. Finally, black Panther and Sonic the Hedgehog made the list. I can’t seem to think about Sonic the Hedgehog without thinking about Sonic the restaurant, and I get this craving for a chocolate milkshake. I digress.
There were three entries in the top ten that stumped me. See if they stump you.
Number five was Harley Quinn. Have you ever heard of her? If not, you’re not keeping up with your DC Comics villains. Don’t feel bad. Me neither. Apparently, she is a henchwoman for The Joker. Number six was Jailbird Kid. It’s the black and white striped uniform of a prison inmate. I read that the character is from a popular book. Really? Kids read books?
Finally, this one should be the ultimate pop culture test for you. Number nine on the list was Foxy, a robotic pirate fox, complete with a black eye patch and a Captain Hook-style arm. If you can tell me what media he is from, then I bow down to you as the hippest, most with-it, grooviest cat in all of Trussville. Give up? So did I. Upon googling it, I learned he is from a video game called Five Nights at Freddy’s. The game is so popular it is soon to be made into a movie. How did I miss this? Very unhip of me.
Anyway, now you know. So when your doorbell rings on Halloween night, and you answer it to find your neighbor’s kid dressed up as a dysfunctional pirate fox, you can say, “Oh, you’re Foxy. You’re from that video game. I understand it’s very popular. Can’t wait for the movie to come out!”
I guarantee that your young adult neighbors who are chaperoning the kids will be extremely impressed. They will no doubt spread the word, and you will quickly garner a reputation as being among the coolest people in northeast Birmingham.
A word of caution here. Achieving this degree of hipness is addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be listening to songs by Post Malone and buying tight blue jeans with rips in the knees.
(Ken Lass is a retired Birmingham TV news and Sports anchor and Trussville resident.)