I’ve been thinking lately about what constitutes the “canon” of the TNOCS community.
Here, I’m using the term with the following definition:
So maybe it’s an imperfect word for what I’m trying to describe.
I’m talking about our shared universe – the ideas, albums, movies, songs, books, quotes, etc. – any cultural artifact or reference that we collectively know and understand. It’s part of the language we speak with each other. It’s kind of foundational or important to our collective identity as members of the TNOCS community.
Obviously, I can mention the following things – and we’re all instantly on the same page:
(That is, if you come from Stereogum’s The Number Ones Comment Section, which was the origin of this little utopia):
• “Backstabbers” is a 10
• Weird Al Yankovic’s biggest chart hit “White and Nerdy” peaked at #9
• Homework assignments from irishbearaz
• Tom Breihan’s references to cocaine or the Muppet Babies…
.. and the list goes on.
We have a pretty healthy shared reality here already.
But can it (should it?) expand beyond things mentioned just in the comments section?
Are there albums, songs, movies, books, television shows, or any other cultural artifacts that should be in our collective TNOCS canon? Things we all agree are great, or we at least have shared knowledge of the work in question?
I’d like to suggest a recurring column wherein people propose what should be in our shared TNOCS canon. The idea here is NOT to come up with something obscure or highly personal to you, but to share something you think everybody in TNOCS should love and appreciate.
It may be something which many of us already love and appreciate, but which we decree should part of our canon. That way, people who haven’t watched / listened / read are recommended to do so, and we can all use references from this work and it’s an understood point of reference.
Anybody can write a Canon column – it’s not a Pauly thing, it’s a TNOCS thing.
Think of a work you feel like should be in our shared TNOCS canon, explain why you think it deserves to be there (particularly why it should be relevant to TNOCS – to us) and submit it to mt58. We can debate pros and cons in the comments. People who don’t know the work are encouraged to find and experience it. It will be fun and hopefully enlightening as well.
Most importantly, we can build our lexicon of cultural reference that we bandy about. After all, what’s more fun that inside jokes among friends?
I’ll say: if you’re going to get into television, an entire series (unless it’s a limited one) may be hard to consume and process for anyone who isn’t already familiar with it. I could say Seinfeld would make great canon fodder, but with nine seasons at over 20 episodes a season, it would require a fairly gargantuan effort to consume the entire series. Maybe instead, one episode or a few choice episodes would be a better choice for a Canon column.
I really look forward to everybody’s Canon suggestions. As dutchg8r would say, “Nom-nom-nom!”
When writing about my mixtapes, I included a reference to the movie High Fidelity, which I feel like is something everyone in TNOCS should have seen.
So that will be my inaugural recommendation for TNOCS canon:
I’m recommending the movie High Fidelity (2000) directed by Stephen Frears, starring John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso and Jack Black.
I’m certainly not trying to dissuade anybody from the book “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby, on which the movie is based, and which I’ve heard is excellent.
But I haven’t read the book, and the movie is perma-lodged in my brain.
Why am I recommending the movie?
Let’s see… A bunch of music-obsessed ne’er-do-wells? Working in a record store and talking about music? With live music featured? And several hilarious arguments about music?
Does this remotely sound like TNOCS territory?
And yes, it’s got some relevant themes about commitment and maturity – it is a real movie after all, not just a bunch of funny music-based non-sequiturs.
It’s got the music aficionado archetypes:
• Dick: soft-spoken, intensely into a few genres, knowledgeable to the point of pedantry.
• Barry: frustrated musician, overly exuberant, always looking to one-up his compadres in musical arguments.
• Rob: stuck in life, omnivorous musical tastes, taste-maker (now what you’d call an “influencer”).
Are you a Dick, a Barry or a Rob? Or maybe a Laura or a Charlie or (holding back the puke) an Ian? Not that we’re limited to these options in life, but I love a movie that categorizes people like it categorizes music, with limitless subgenres and quirks.
Ok, don’t want to get into the archetypes? Well how about the music featured in the movie… the needle drops?
Stevie Wonder. Stereolab. The Kinks. Bob Dylan. The Jam. Velvet Underground. Aretha Franklin. Barry White. Elvis Costello.
And yes… The Beta Band!
Check, check, check, across the board, check!
You could ignore the movie and have a great music lesson just with the needle drops.
Ok, if none of that works for you, how about some of the snappiest dialogue this side of Grosse Pointe Blank (another legendary Cusack adventure).
Some snippets below:
Barry’s Customer: Hi, do you have the song “I Just Called To Say I Love You?” It’s for my daughter’s birthday.
Barry: Yeah, we have it.
Barry’s Customer: Great, Great, can I have it?
Barry: No. No, you can’t…
Or this exchange:
Barry: Top 5 songs about death. A Laura’s Dad tribute list, okay…
Laura: [reading] “Top Five Dream Jobs…”
Rob: Hey! That’s private!
Laura: “Number One: Journalist for Rolling Stone magazine…”
If you are familiar with this movie, I hope this brings back some fond memories.
And if you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you feel inspired to do so. It’s a real classic, and I think a strong contender for TNOCS canon.
What do you think of High Fidelity as a contender for TNOCS Canon? I look forward to the debate!
And I definitely look forward to more recommendations for TNOCS Canon.
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