Generation gap

I got into a conversation on Twitter today, as you do, with a total stranger who mistook The Princess Bride for The Princess Diaries.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

What happened was, there was this high-lair-ious hashtag going on called #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly, so after a little thought I contributed the following:

Well, I thought it was excellent. I sat back and waited for the accolades to roll in.

All I got was some bloke saying “Which film is that?”

I was going to be snarky, but then maybe I thought maybe it wasn’t as clear a reference as it was in my head, so I just told him. He said “Ah, and I’ve seen that.” And then “Have you seen the second one?” And then “I was totally thinking of Princess Diaries.”

“Very different film, Ted”, I replied, scathingly, prepared to close the door on this sorry encounter by puzzling him out of existence, but he actually got the Father Ted reference, so I let him be.

Still, this whole thing demonstrates a serious problem in our society. It’s called the Princess Bride Generation Gap. There are people like us, the sensible people who saw the film when it came out, or a few years later, as teenagers or young adults, and loved it, because to see it is to love it, and quoted it and delighted in it. And there are our children, who are growing up in the soft light of Rob Reiner, because all is right with the world and what child wouldn’t enjoy a film with swashbuckling and a princess and torture and a miracle man and a cast in a million.

But in between there are people who grew up in no-man’s-land, neither fish nor flesh, who have discovered the film neither in its first flush nor as a retro delight; people who are between perhaps 15 and 30 years of age.

It is our responsibility, nay, our duty, to bring this film to these poor benighted individuals, lest they go through their lives unbrightened by it, unable to understand the references and the quotes and the people who talk about land wars in Asia and bwessed awwangements.

But we must do it carefully, surreptitiously, leaving tiny clues for them rather than pushing them into it, so that they think they came to it themselves, all unawares. Because nothing’s worse than the stuff people 15 years older than you think is cool. Those people have terrible taste and no sense of irony.

This is your mission. Gather your holocaust cloaks, friends, and begin.

5 thoughts on “Generation gap

  1. Katy

    I think the age range for which people don’t know The Princess Bride is a bit younger than your window. I’m 32 and grew up with it, as did my younger siblings. It was a staple on TV in the 90s, and we had it on VHS taped from WPIX (the famous channel 11 in New York), complete with commercials from 1991 that you had to fast-forward through. My guess is that kids born from the late 90s onwards are more likely to be in that window where it hasn’t been ubiquitous for them.

    From time to time I meet someone my age who can’t quote the entire movie from memory and I’m just flabbergasted, though. How did they make it through childhood without seeing The Princess Bride? How do they navigate the world? Are they OK with missing so many cultural references? It’s inconceivable.

  2. Sara

    It upsets me that people I know have never seen it before, I’m on the lookout for the DVD so my girls can watch it, they have seen Labyrinth and The Neverending Story, I think they are ready!!! 🙂

  3. Mind The Baby

    This first happened to me when I was working with someone a few years younger than me and I commented that a house we were driving past looked like South Fork, to which they replied “what’s South Fork?”. I was in my 20s at the time and found that really troubling.

    Did you spot that the original pensive genius FBI agent from the first few series’ of Criminal Minds was the “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” guy? That’s a generation gap builder, right?

    1. Maud Post author

      Never seen Criminal Minds but I know he’s in Homeland, one of those other things all the cool kids (with cable TV) are watching these days. Which is nice for him.


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