Monday, January 8, 2018

Musical Monday - The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python

This is a story about assumptions.

In the social circles I have been involved with for most of my life, Monty Python has been one of those baseline pieces of culture that everyone simply knows. Among role-playing gamers, Monty Python references are so ubiquitous that many groups have established a house rule to ban them lest gaming sessions get completely derailed. One only had to make the briefest reference to a Monty Python skit or song and everyone around would know exactly what you were talking about. It felt like familiarity with Monty Python was essentially ubiquitous.

So the other day when I was riffing on the Lumberjack Song while playing a game (it made sense in context, but it would take too long to explain how), I discovered that the Redhead had no idea what it was. She thought I was just making something goofy up on the fly. The realization that she was completely unfamiliar with something I just took for granted was somewhat disconcerting.

The salient point here is that even those things that you think are universally known probably are not. I recall seeing Robert Sawyer speak when the new Battlestar Galactica was on the air. He pointed out that even though everyone in the room had probably seen the show, based on its ratings, if you went out on the street and asked passers-by about it, only one out of every couple hundred people or so would have seen it. Or I think about the time I made a reference to Jim Henson and one of my younger coworkers had no idea who he was. The things you know are not the things everyone knows, even the things you think are so commonly known that everyone knows them.

Previous Musical Monday: Talking with My Father by Dougie MacLean
Subsequent Musical Monday: Zombie by the Cranberries

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