The third week of April, I spent several days in Manhattan. During that time, I attended four Broadway shows. The funniest was It’s Only a Play. I have never laughed so much at cast members sharing simple looks and pauses. Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham and the entire ensemble were consummate actors delivering an extraordinary show. The direction, lighting, setting, and script were outstanding but there was a problem. It was filled with outdated references. My question is are outdated references hurting your content? Think not? Are you certain?
An Odd Mixture
The script was full of modern references, such as current Broadway shows yet would inexplicably reference technology and culture from other eras as if they were today. For example, in one scene two characters realized they communicated on an AOL Chat room. AOL chat rooms all but died in the 1990’s. In another, Stockard Channing realizes someone has taken her Quaaludes, a medication that hasn’t been manufactured since 1985. And yet another anachronism confusingly appears when Matthew Broderick’s character shares that as a high school student he wrote a play about Gershwin using album liner notes as his reference source. Those albums were published in the 1930’s and early 40’s possibly putting the character in his late 80’s or early nineties 90’s not middle-aged as portrayed.
Are You Doing this?
I know I do. I’m a 64-year-old Boomer, and although I’ve kept up with the world around me I miss things. I reference events, use phrases, and words that don’t make sense to younger generations, but I have a solution. One of the younger members of our marketing team, a millennial, reads my posts as part of the editing process. There have been several occasions where I’ve changed a word or omitted a reference because it didn’t fit. Here’s another strategy. As a grade school principal, my daughter held an annual orientation with her staff. She shared references that the children might not understand and current pop culture that the teachers might be unfamiliar with.
So, Are Outdated References Hurting Your Content?
As much as I enjoyed “It’s Only a Play” I questioned other references throughout the play. Was the portrayal they gave of show business accurate or twenty years behind the times? If you’re content references outdated culture and technology, people may be setting your article…I mean post, aside.