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Matters of fact

Pop culture trivia and tidbits that might surprise you.

Darth Vader cartoonDarth Vader, a.k.a. Big Daddy. It’s a popular belief that one of the Star Wars film series’ most famous villains, Darth Vader, said, “Luke, I am your father.” In actual fact he said, “No. I am your father,” in The Empire Strikes Back.[1]
Snow White's Queen's mirrorMagic mirror on the wall, who was the first Disney princess of them all? If you think it’s Snow White, you’re mistaken. In 1934, Walt Disney released a short film called The Goddess of Spring that starred Persephone, the daughter of Zeus. This short film, however, helped lead the way to the development of the 1937 feature-length film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[2]
lensDouble take on 007. Contrary to what many people think, Sean Connery was not the first actor to play James Bond on screen. That distinction goes to Barry Nelson, who portrayed the famous spy in the 1954 made-for-TV movie adaptation of Casino Royale.[3]
lipsWhat’s a kiss between friends? Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura are credited with the first interracial kiss on TV in an episode that aired in 1968. However, a televised play in the U.K., called You in Your Small Corner, showed the first kiss between a white woman and black man in 1962.[4] 
Sherlock HolmesElementary, my dear …? This might come as a shock, but Sherlock Holmes never said the phrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” In his 1893 short story, “The Adventure of the Crooked Man,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually wrote, “‘Excellent!’ I cried. ‘Elementary,’ said he.”[5] 
Jon Snow cartoonYou know nothing (about fur cloaks), Jon Snow. Those fur cloaks worn by the Night’s Watch in the hit TV series Game of Thrones looked so warm, cozy and authentic. Turns out they were faux fur rugs from Ikea that were cut and dyed to look genuine. Want to sport your own Jon Snow look? Thankfully Ikea has provided instructions.[6] 
Heart cartoonAnatomically correct organs. While many films and TV shows use fake props that are modified to look realistic (see Jon Snow’s fur cloak above), the organs shown during surgeries in the popular show Grey's Anatomy aren't fake – they’re actually authentic cow organs. And they’re not the only things that are real. The close-ups of the surgeons’ hands during operation scenes are in fact those of actual surgeons.[7]
barrelProudly serving since 900 CE. Sean’s Bar, in Athlone, Ireland, currently holds the title as the oldest pub in Ireland – and quite possibly the world (ongoing investigations have yet to find an establishment older than Sean’s). Archeological research has determined that the walls of Sean’s Bar have been in place since 900 CE. What’s more, there are records of every owner going back 1,100 years. That’s one very old ale tale.[8]
HamburgerBig Mac to go – Pompeii-style. Archeologists in Pompeii have discovered that fast food has been around longer than we thought. A number of ancient fast-food stands – called thermopolia – have been unearthed, complete with duck, goat, pig, fish and snail remains, giving researchers a good idea of what customers ate right before the tragic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.[9]

Sunny spots during 2020 (yes, there were a few)

Last year was undoubtedly tough, but pop culture provided some brighter moments. Here are a few that helped keep us distracted, laughing or occasionally scratching our heads.

Memes have been around for a while – Kermit sipping tea, side-eye Chloe and Leonardo DiCaprio's “Great Gatsby” are just a few that spring to mind – but they seemed to come fast and furious throughout 2020. Maybe that’s because 2020 provided more meme-able moments than ever. Whatever the case, memes on all kinds of subjects, pandemic related or not, kept us chuckling during the year.

Baking bread became everyone’s favourite pastime, and social media exploded with images of glorious golden homemade loaves. Perhaps prompted by a shortage of store-bought bread when the pandemic first started, people turned to baking their own. And when yeast was hard to find, sourdough starters became all the rage. It’s probably impossible to count how many loaves of bread were baked in 2020.

Schitt’s Creek, the little Canadian sitcom that could, not only kept viewers laughing with its hilarious account of what happens when a wealthy family loses their fortune and moves to a small rural town, but it also cleaned up big at the 2020 Emmys, winning the award in all nine categories for which it was nominated after six seasons of being on air.[10]

Speaking of TV shows, one of the most talked about programs during the spring of 2020 was the Netflix docu-series Tiger King. The show introduced the strange world of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and other feuding big-cat fanatics, leaving many viewers with a feeling of astonishment, unease and disbelief.[11]

Appealing to the masses

Simply put, pop culture is anything that is popular with the majority of a society. Pop culture appears in media that is easily accessible, such as print (books, comics, magazines, etc.), film, television, radio, the internet and social media. 

The term “popular culture” has been around since the mid-nineteenth century, referring to the cultural traditions of common people, as opposed to the “official culture” of the upper classes. Thanks to social changes that were brought about by the Industrial Revolution, working people had more money to spend on entertainment, like going to the pub, attending sporting events or reading for leisure. A growing consumer culture, and the increased ability to travel thanks to improved railway networks, created a market for mass-produced, cheap literature. These early examples of pop culture, called penny dreadfuls, were serial stories that were published weekly and cost one penny, and were therefore easily accessible (and affordable) to the vast majority of the population. Some see them as the Victorian equivalent of video games.[12]



[1] www.rd.com/list/pop-culture-trivia

[2] https://cartoonresearch.com/index.php/walt-disneys-the-goddess-of-spring-1934

[3] www.rd.com/list/pop-culture-trivia

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/07/14/watson

[6] https://time.com/4901655/ikea-game-of-thrones-rug-cape-diy

[7] https://twentytwowords.com/super-surprising-bits-of-pop-culture-knowledge-to-help-you-crush-your-next-trivia-night

[8] https://popculturemadness.com/PCM/2020/pop-culture-trivia-and-conversation-starters; www.seansbar.ie/history

[9] www.complex.com/life/2020/12/archeologists-discover-ancient-fast-food-counter-pompeii

[10] www.cbc.ca/arts/canada-just-dominated-the-emmys-and-we-should-all-give-a-schitt-1.5732138

[11] www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/culture/g34858452/pop-culture-moments-2020

[12] www.mysterytribune.com/penny-dreadfuls-the-ultimate-guide-to-their-origins-decline-and-legacy

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