Recently I had lunch with a young friend (mid-20’s), and I happened to mention the William Tell Overture. She looked at me with a lack of recognition, and I quickly clarified, “The Lone Ranger theme.” It hadn’t really dawned on me that the identification between the song and the TV show was so strong that people were losing the original name. But then a scary thought started creeping up the back of my neck.
“Do you know who William Tell is?” She shook her head.
The fear started growing. “Old story… shot an apple off his son’s head with a bow and arrow?” No glimmer of recognition from this intelligent, college-educated, well-traveled professional woman.
I’ve been in a class this week, where I’ve had to explain the context of the instructor’s casual references to Will Robinson and the phrase, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”
I know that cultural literacy is fluid. I realize that every time the Grammy nominations come out, and I not only don’t recognize the songs, I no longer even recognize the “artists”. But it still sometimes surprises me what does and doesn’t survive the passing of the generational torch.
I weep for the day when the Lone Ranger will only be remembered as the guy standing next to Captain Jack Scissorhands (pictured above).
(Disclaimer: For some reason, I take a perverse pleasure in knowing that The Who will only be remembered for singing all the CSI theme songs.)