From Carissa Risucci:
For some marathoners, the motivations behind text selection are rather simplistic. I found trends within my interviews of participants searching for, or more often stumbling upon, texts that they could relate to or that made them laugh and feel good about themselves. For others, however, text selection is much more strategic than that. I find myself handpicking texts to marathon based on the social acceptance that accompanies having knowledge of them and their narrative worlds.
When our class played Trivial Pursuit, media marathoning style, I felt a sense of embarrassment when I didn’t know answers and information about commonly marathoned texts that Communication students, and even individuals outside of the major, likely have some sort of knowledge about. Lost, Back to the Future, and in some cases, dare I say it, Harry Potter—who could not have their facts straight about that? If you choose to marathon the “wrong” texts, so to speak, it’s as if there is some inside joke you aren’t privy to.
When I look at my most recent marathons, this strategy becomes evident. Mad Men, Harry Potter, Glee, The Hunger Games, Millennium… References to these texts flood pop culture and mainstream conversations daily. This is not to say that I did not enjoy these marathons immensely simply for their content, but there also comes a great sense of satisfaction from understanding Quidditch references, being able to joke about tracker jackers, and comprehending tweets from Gleeks about performances in recently aired shows.
I have to say I was quite relieved to see that viewing Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was a required assignment for class. Not only do I understand Dr. Perks’ “butter scraped over too much bread” reference now, but I can stop ignoring my roommate’s comments about Gollum and hobbit feet.
8 thoughts on “Being “In” on the Inside Joke”
There is definitely some motivation for me to marathon certain texts, just so I can be in on conversations. However, if I am not up to date on the current trends, it is not very fun. For example, I have never read—and never plan to read—Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. This literary snobbery has shut me out of many discussions and probably dozens of references that I am not even aware of. In high school, I didn’t understand why friends of mine were arguing over Jacob and Edward. I thought they were fellow students that I somehow had never met. And I had no idea what Renesmee was, but I thought it sounded like some sort of exotic insect. Now that Fifty Shades of Grey is the new must-read, I am sure that there are plenty of inside jokes about Ana and what’s-his-name that are going right over my head. According to friends of mine, who have devoured the series, there are many comments about “inner goddesses,” that I am happy to miss out on. As much as I like to talk about books, I can’t bring myself to read about the S&M escapades of New Yorkers or the drama between a boring girl and her vampire crush/husband. Refusing to marathon something popular, just like Carissa describes, means not being “in” on the jokes and the references.
I definitely used to be a lot more motivated to marathon certain texts when I was living in my hometown. Every day at lunchtime my friends and I would have in depth conversations about every little detail that happened in a new episode of whatever show was popular at the time. I admit, it is not fun to be out of the loop when it comes to inside jokes, but I think I felt so passionate to be ‘in’ on the conversations because it was high school and when in high school, it’s important to be up on all the current trends.
Now that my high school friends and I have gone our separate ways it is hard to converse about marathoned texts and I believe that is what changed my feelings about what I marathon and what I don’t. Today, I’ll choose a show only if it is something that gets my attention because it relates to my life, or if it makes me laugh uncontrollably, not if it is socially accepted.
I found myself this summer reading 50 Shades of Grey only because of the big hype about it. So many people were talking about it and asking me questions thinking that I would know the answers, and like Carissa stated, I almost felt embarrassed of my lack of knowledge of the text. Once I had begun reading and really immersed myself in the narrative world of Christian Grey, I found myself feeling better about myself because I felt more ‘in the loop’ about certain jokes and references. I found it funny that even while watching E! News there were many jokes cracked in relation of the storyline that I could now understand. I found myself only reading the series because so many people had, where if it weren’t so controversial I would have never picked up the soft-pornographic series filled with grammar mistakes. As Carissa and Rachel had explained, just because you marathon texts that are most popular does’t necessarily mean your missing out on something great. I feel like a wasted solid, sunny days where I instead spent it reading about a poorly written story that had given me no intellectual gain or satisfaction.
I recently decided to marathon the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy after interviewing one of my friends about the texts. I obviously already heard all the hype about it and have heard so many mixed messages about the books that I just had to discover the texts for myself. I found myself deeply immersed in the first book, finishing it in two days. Even though I did not gain any intellectual knowledge from the series, I don’t regret reading them and actually enjoyed the virtual escape it provided me with. When I think about it, I usually tend to marathon book series or tv shows when there is a lot of hype about them… I like it read something that will be worth my time. I must agree that it is definitely rewarding when you can associate with the inside jokes in a text and discuss them with your friends.
I don’t think there were any shows that I marathoned intentionally marathoned. I kind of stumbled upon them or they were recommendations from friends or family. I know The Wire is a very commonly marathoned text and there is even a class being taught here at Nazareth. I’m ashamed to say, I have never seen it. I would definitely love to marathon it one of these days. I was in Brooklyn visiting my cousin and one of the actors(Jamie Hector) was in the restaurant we were in and I had no idea who he was. I have marathoned 50 Shades of Grey only to see what all the hub bub was about. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually like them. Now with regards to gaining any intellectual knowledge, uh yeah….I gained absolutely none marathoning any of the shows that I chose to marathon. They were something to do while relaxing or used as background noise and I heard something that grabbed my attention. I do like being able to chime in my two cents with regard to shows, so I do feel like I’m with the “in” crowd.
A lot of texts today are made for niche audiences, and some of those niches may overlap. I feel like the only reason there seems to be an “in crowd” when it comes to these things is because the niches are so big. The shows/books either cater to the least common denominator (50 Shades) or they can offer a wide variety of emotional stimuli that almost anyone can form a connection to (Harry Potter). So I don’t necessarily think that there is a true in crowd. It all depends on who you surround yourself with. I’m sure I would feel terribly out of place if I were involved in a conversation with 50 Shades of Grey but i don’t think that makes them cooler than me in any way, shape, or form. (I invented cool.)
One of the reasons I began to marathon Breaking Bad and Vampire Diaries was to be “in” on the conversations my friends were having about the shows. Nothing is worse when you feel like the odd ball out on a conversation when people are talking about something you don’t understand. After gaining the “in” on these shows I keep bringing up conversations with my friends who have also marathoned them because it feels like an intelligent conversation when you are fully engaged in it. I think this relates to a lot more than marathoning as well, about history, gossip, news, pretty much anything has these niche audiences.
Being in the “in” crowd for some texts, in my opinion, can be good sometimes because one can get an extra sense of excitement that may come from just the general hype going on. For example, when the last Harry Potter book came out, I pre-ordered it, because I knew it was something everyone was going to be talking about at that time, and I wanted to be a part of those discussions. My friends, or people in general, would be more likely to share the excitement, be more apt to talk and discuss, especially because it would be fresh in a lot of peoples minds. With the Hunger Game series, I did not read or watch the movies when all the hype was going on and so I missed out on being in the “in” crowd while that was going on. However, waiting has its benefits as well. Instead of scrambling to finish it so I could understand everyone’s references, etc. I was able to make my own connections and not feel rushed to get through it. I think in both scenarios, there were certainly pros and cons for me, in terms of being in an “in” group or not.