The Flash Mob, and Other Pop-Culture References That Need an Early Retirement

Among its many current and not-as-current pop-cultural references (how’ve you been, John Mayer?), Friends With Benefits, the romantic comedy co-starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis that came out last weekend, includes two over-the-top New York City flash mobs. (A flash mob, for the YouTube averse, is a group stunt in which a large number of people meet at a specified location to perform some predetermined act — usually a dance — and thereby amaze or totally terrify everyone around them.) While the FWB flash mob was admittedly charming, it’s also a very specific reference, and one that feels slightly staler with each occurrence. Soon the sight of random strangers dancing together in public will bring us no joy at all! So to preserve the dignity of the flash mob and several other well-worn pop-culture trends, Vulture would like to politely request a moratorium on the following references. Please, add your own in the comments.

As mentioned above: Flash Mobs
We’ll cut Friends With Benefits a little slack — presumably, its bookended flashmobs were written into the script long before the YouTube staple went mainstream. But in the interim, both Weeds and Modern Family featured the random dance trend — Weeds to illustrate the joys of life; Modern Family to showcase Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s sassy point-and-box-step (and also to demonstrate the joys of life). We’re glad that (spoiler!) Justin Timberlake was able to publicly pronounce his love for Mila Kunis, and we appreciate a Semisonic shout-out whenever possible (which was very often, in this particular movie), but perhaps the cinematic flash mobs — and lip dubs, just to be safe — should end here. (Nudge-nudge to the Glee writers.)

Cupcake Shops
In the upcoming 2 Broke Girls, Kat Dennings’s Max dreams of quitting her Williamsburg diner job in order to open a cupcake shop. If Bridesmaids is any indication, this is not the smartest plan! Max will end up broke, friendless, living at her mom’s, and baking elaborately decorated flower cupcakes for one. Then she’ll have to clean up the twenty pots and pans all by herself. Another issue: Cupcake making is contentious! All the contestants on the many cupcake-related reality shows seem to get in heated arguments about dye color and the proper icing-to-cake ratio. (If anyone is looking for Vulture’s opinion, it’s 1-to-1.) If you have to stick to the food-service industry, try a more agreeable niche. Happy Endings has the food-truck market cornered, and It’s Always Sunny dominates the bar scene, so might we suggest a Vietnamese sandwich shop? Báhn mì: a food of peace.

Buzz Aldrin Cameos
After howling at the moon at Tina Fey and bro-ing out with Optimus Prime, what else, in terms of space comedy, is there for Buzz to do? Better to recruit some fresh retired-astronaut talent (they have some time now, anyway, right?). Get Sally Ride in there; she can teach Juliana Marguiles to confront her fears through zero-gravity tumbling class. (Note: Can someone please invent zero-gravity tumbling class? That sounds awesome.)

Ron Swanson can of course do no wrong, and we look forward to as many seasons of meat-cone jokes as necessary to land Nick Offerman that much-deserved Emmy nomination. But a quick survey of novelty food blogs and the gift table at Urban Outfitters would suggest that the bacon trend, in which it is applied to everything from salt to Band-Aids, has reached its apogee in the manly director of Pawnee’s Parks’ Department. Let’s leave it with Ron; we can’t imagine a more appropriate, and dare we say alluring, Defender of the Bacon Faith. And frankly, other animal products deserve their moment of respect. When’s the last time you heard a good squab joke? Exactly.

“Don’t Stop Believin’”
That “Don’t Stop Believin’” could be successfully repurposed after the The Sopranos finale is a testament to Glee and its early charm. But when the Journey classic is soundtracking a good-bye lip dub on the Today show, we’ve reached the moment to say thank you and good-bye to the streetlights, people, ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh. It’s your turn,” Any Way You Want It.

The Flash Mob, and Other Pop-Culture References That Need an Early Retirement