true confessions

Vulture Writers Confess Their Pop-Culture Blind Spots

Photo: Bettmann/Corbis (Bond); Warner Bros (Goonies); New Line Cinema (Lord of the Rings)

With all due modesty, you do not want to go up against the Vulture staff in a game of pop-culture bar trivia. The sheer amount of movies, TV, books, and music that we have collectively devoured and remembered would stun Ken Jennings and depress our parents. However, while collectively we know everything (hold on, let’s alphabetically check all of IMDb to make sure. A’s, b’s, c’s … z’s, yep turns out we’ve got it all covered), each writer has one shameful hole apiece in his or her entertainment knowledge: a classic franchise, movie, or TV series that is an entrenched part of the canon but which this scribe just never got around to seeing or could never tolerate the idea of. Let 2013 be the year of total honesty as the Vulture staff confesses their pop-culture blind spots. (It should be noted that when each person revealed his or her overlooked standard, the rest of the staff reacted with a mixture of shock and disgust. This is to say, do not let these admissions erode your trust in us: While one staffer may be willfully ignorant of a classic, the rest of the writers stand ready to jump in with 400 long-winded analyses of it.) Here are our confessions: May our humility inspire you to add your own overlooked standards to the bottom.

J.R.R. Tolkien
I have also never read or seen any Lord of the Rings/Hobbit books or movies. I find other people’s feet really horrifying and nightmarish, so anything where there’s the threat of seeing giganto, extra-hairy gnarly bare dude feet gets an immediate “hell no” from me. And aside from Harry Potter, the only wizard thing I can get even marginally enthusiastic about is the nineties board game Ask Zandar. Ugh, wizards! Get away from me! —Margaret Lyons

James Bond
When I think of Sean Connery, the first thing that comes to mind is how great he was as Indiana Jones’s dad. Until a few weeks ago, I’d never seen him in the role that made him famous, and the only reason I did was because my husband wanted me to see Skyfall with him, and as a working film critic, he insisted that I see some Bond films first. When he told my parents I’d never seen any of the 007 movies, they were appalled, even though this is obviously all their fault. I got through the very fun, very strange Goldfinger — Oddjob might be my favorite villain ever — but only made it through half of Goldeneye. I get it, but I don’t think I get it. —Denise Martin

American Idol
I was still safely between the advertiser-coveted ages of 18 and 34 in the summer of 2002, when an average 12 million similarly aged folk obsessed weekly over what now seems amusingly quaint to call by its full title, American Idol: The Search for a Superstar. And yet I couldn’t bear what looked suspiciously like glycerin tears or the fact that more Americans voted in season one than bothered to pull a lever in the 2000 presidential election. Result? I’ve only watched five minutes of an episode a decade ago. However, I did later subject myself to Fox’s execrable feature From Justin To Kelly in 2003, a film so terrible I actually felt entitled to a Purple Heart, but it’s a decoration that the U.S. military sadly refuses to give (a) to civilians, or (b) for self-inflicted wounds. —Claude Brodesser-Akner

The Goonies
As a child of the eighties, there are five films that I’m supposed to have seen a million times: The Princess Bride, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Willow, and The Goonies. The first two are great. Labyrinth and Willow both give me the creeps. And, yes, I know you love Goonies, but it didn’t do anything for me then, and it doesn’t do anything for me now (from, admittedly, the little I’ve seen). Someone named Chunk, young Josh Brolin, blah blah blah. Sorry, my eighties movie of choice will always be Look Who’s Talking. Singing sperm? Talking babies? Twink Caplan? Sign me up. —Eliot Glazer

The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
A few years ago, some co-workers of mine staged what was basically a Star Wars intervention; we all stayed late and ordered Chinese food and watched the movie together so that I would no longer be an American who had never seen Star Wars. (I was an only child; I preferred The Sound of Music. No one thought to teach me otherwise, I guess.) Unfortunately, it got late, and the intervention did not last through the sequels. I hear someone is Luke’s father! Maybe one day I’ll have kids who can tell me about him. —Amanda Dobbins

When news of a seventh Star Wars broke, I was filled with dread: Does this mean people will be talking about Star Wars until 2015? And worse: Does this mean I have to finally watch the movies? I sat through the first one as a gift to a friend and it was torture. And by “the first one,” I mean the film made in 1977. Star Wars fans always ask me to clarify: Do you mean Episode One? It’s like, no: I mean the first fucking movie of the franchise. And you wonder why I want nothing to do with you. —Patti Greco

Jaws, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs               
My general distaste for scary movies and movies that are scary has precluded me from seeing many great films. I have no idea how scary these movies are by today’s post-Saw standards, but I don’t have a huge urge to find out. However, I know “Heeeeere’s Johnny” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” and all of the other big pop-culture touchstones of the films from watching The Simpsons for 24 years. —Jesse David Fox

Now it is your turn in the comments below. Stand up and own your reality, “My name is _____ and I have never seen ________.” (You can also join in the fun on Twitter, with the hashtag #PopCultureBlindSpots.)

Vulture Writers Confess Pop-Culture Blind Spots