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Questions tagged [popular-culture]

Questions related to the history of a societal set of practices, beliefs, art forms or and/or objects that are popular in a society for only a given period of time, often viewed as trivial in nature.

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Which artist had a special exhibition in the Kunstmuseum Bonn in summer 2012?

In the Kunstmuseum Bonn in Summer 2012, I can remember there was a special exhibition on show about an (probably American) contemporary abstract expressionist artist who did graffiti like abstract art ...
Christoph Mark's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
531 views

Were "spring-heeled boots" a real thing, and if so, what did they look like?

Dylan Thomas's "The Peaches" (from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, 1940): The passage grew dark too suddenly, the walls crowded in, and the roofs crouched down. To me, staring ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
  • 2,295
22 votes
3 answers
5k views

When did the acceptance of diversity become such an important social goal in Western countries? [closed]

In most Western countries today, embracing diversity is considered both a desirable end and a means to an end[Unsupported assertion]. Every other day sees another academic publication showing that ...
J Li's user avatar
  • 395
2 votes
1 answer
233 views

When and where were British pub games first played?

I've been searching for the answer of the origin/ history of pub games in British pubs. However, this is what I've encountered in some different sources ( including Wikipedia): In his book, Beer and ...
Pilence12's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
226 views

How did Barbra Streisand learn of the California Coastal Records image of her house, when it had only been downloaded 4 times before her counsel did?

The Streisand Effect got named because of Barbra Streisand learning about her house being in the California Coastal Records database and kicking up a huge fuss about it. But how did she discover that ...
Malady's user avatar
  • 1,359
-2 votes
1 answer
432 views

Why were (are) food tasters human? [closed]

In the TV series The Borgias, there were people who tasted food or drink for others (e.g., the Pope, the Queen, the King) just in case it would be poisoned. Looking this up on Wikipedia, I find that ...
BCLC's user avatar
  • 185
55 votes
4 answers
9k views

What do the phone number suffixes J, M, R, W in 1940 New York phone book mean?

Browsing through the Staten Island, NY telephone directory of January 1940, I found that certain phone numbers were printed with a suffix J, M, R or W. What do these mean? I've marked a few of them in ...
MTA's user avatar
  • 603
2 votes
1 answer
74 views

Perception of the state by an average person in pre-modern times [closed]

I would like to better understand the experience of being governed and interaction with the centralized state (or lack thereof) in pre-modern times. A cursory search did not return anything ...
jarm's user avatar
  • 123
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why did animation become so huge in Japan compared to other countries?

I'd like a general explanation of the historical/cultural reasons that have made anime in Japan so big. There's clearly disproportion between the Japanese population (I doubt that at any moment since ...
user2638180's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
1k views

What is the origin of this joke about matchmaking?

The joke is told with references to Bill Gates and the World Bank, like so: I told my son, “You will marry the girl I choose.” He said, “NO!” I told him, “She is Bill Gates’ daughter.” He said, “...
syre's user avatar
  • 223
3 votes
0 answers
188 views

Has any previously popular Internet meme subsequently made a comeback? [closed]

This question is motivated by the XKCD comic 286 All Your Base (see also Explain XKCD): In the comic, a character is preparing for a comeback by a meme that was previously highly popular. I'm ...
Rebecca J. Stones's user avatar
3 votes
4 answers
5k views

Has any music act ever topped the Beatles in sales?

The Beatles in 1965. Source: Wikipedia Elvis Presley is widely hailed as the King of Rock and Roll, but in 1966 John Lennon said the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" in a London Evening ...
Kerry L's user avatar
  • 6,192
8 votes
6 answers
1k views

What is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature?

Having recently finished (again) The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wondered what is the earliest known book / novel trilogy in literature? (Yes, I know J.R.R. Tolkien wrote LOTR not as a trilogy but as ...
Kerry L's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
41k views

What was the early understanding of static electricity shocks?

What was the common understanding of electric shocks caused by static electricity in the ancient world and middle ages? I'm talking about the shock when you touch something on a dry day for example. ...
Gimelist's user avatar
  • 273
1 vote
1 answer
667 views

Why do people not talk about Tokyo fire bombing during WW2? [closed]

I was wondering why Hiroshima and Nagasaki are remembered as some of the most devastating attacks during WW2; but, the Tokyo firebombing March 9, 1945—which caused more casualties and was a really ...
Plotinus's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
18k views

Where does this hairstyle originate from?

I've seen the shaved head with a pony tail hairstyle in some cartoons and video games. Examples: Are these hairstyles "historically accurate"? Are they based upon a certain culture / history or were ...
user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
15k views

Whatever happened to Elvis Presley's Federal badge?

Question: Whatever happened to Elvis's Federal badge? Did he ever use it? Did Elvis, probable one of the most recognizable icons of the 50's, 60's and 70's ever use that federal badge and ...
user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
228 views

What are the most famous individual toys in modern history? [closed]

Continuing my interest in the history of toys: Have there been any famous individual toys besides Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear? (Both were inspired by actual stuffed animals.) By individual I ...
Random's user avatar
  • 3,686
8 votes
2 answers
959 views

Who was "The famous American Roberts" in 1920's Europe?

Reading this clip from a German newspaper left me puzzled: Die praktischen, die smarten Amerikaner! Das Girl haben sie bei uns eingeführt und den Jazz und die Songs mit Rachenkatarrh, und die ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.9k
0 votes
1 answer
275 views

Racial Themes in Rocky Movies [closed]

Recently, I was working on a project concerning the Cold War, and cultural themes throughout the period. I mentioned in my report that popular culture often took part in shaping the conflict during ...
user366608's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
14k views

Where and how did pinky promises / swear originate?

So I found this article around it, but does not mentioned references and not sure if its comprehensive. The pinky-promise, more serious than we thought Posted by Camayak plug-in | Nov 4, 2015 | ...
Alex S's user avatar
  • 266
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

When did people start believing aliens are abducting cows?

I think all of us must have seen the following scene in a film, or read it in a book: It is night, and there are cows standing in a field. All of a sudden, a flying saucer appears, and starts to beam ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Bears on Bicycles - What are early examples of photographs or paintings showing bicycles used with animals in circus acts?

Bicycles became popular during the early to mid-nineteenth-century. Around the same time, Isaac A. Van Amburgh was active as the first circus wild animal trainer. When did the practice of training ...
Tommy Vernieri's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
4k views

What made early 20th-century Vienna such an incubator for various intellectual activities?

There are almost too many examples to cite(the Austrian school of economics, Sigmund Freud, modernist figures in culture, Joseph Schumpeter, etc.). Here's a quote from Wikipedia's Vienna entry: ...
ADO's user avatar
  • 477
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Which was the earliest book of names for naming babies?

Nowadays one finds books and online websites that help you to name babies. What are the earliest instances of these? I would assume that these would be in Europe, China or the Middle East, but if ...
Rajib's user avatar
  • 3,364
6 votes
1 answer
452 views

Which side of the Atlantic does the jack-o'-lantern come from?

There is an often-repeated 'fact' that although the pumpkin is an American plant, the Jack-o-Lantern tradition is an older Irish tradition (e.g., in today's Washington Post) in which turnips were ...
Oreotrephes's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
391 views

Did the 1962 comedy album about JFK impact the presidency or US prestige abroad?

On October 22, 1962 -- the same day President Kennedy appeared on television to announce the discovery of nuclear armed missiles in Cuba and the American response -- commedian and JFK impressionist ...
Bruce James's user avatar
  • 5,124
14 votes
8 answers
6k views

When did formal social dance fall out of favor in the US?

Up until about the 1950s, one can see instances of social dance (especially ballroom) dominating the social scene. This includes instances such as the tennis court scene with Humphrey Bogart and ...
user4761's user avatar
  • 141
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was "the modern cocktail" intended to mask the foul taste of Prohibition-era liquor?

I have long suspected that what we know today as a "cocktail" was invented to mask the taste of bad liquor. Indeed I've found several unsupported assertions to this effect online, generally pointing ...
kjo's user avatar
  • 423
3 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the origin/history of the practice of standing up if an elder or respectable is approaching?

It is usually witnessed that whenever someone respectable (parents), of a higher status (king/president) or an elderly approaches e.g. enters the room, people tend to stand-up as a sign of respect. ...
Bleeding Fingers's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
915 views

What was the earliest professional recording of "Happy Birthday to You"?

Since its creation, there has been confusion over the copyright status of the familiar song "Happy Birthday to You". As it became widely popular, the original copyright holders lost control of when it ...
user avatar
15 votes
5 answers
57k views

Does the forearm grip/handshake have a historical basis?

I was wondering where the forearm handshake came from. I found absolutely nothing in Wikipedia, so I have no idea if this is really historically based or just a recent popular greeting. I was led to ...
AL13N's user avatar
  • 151
6 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why was Woody Woodpecker a "natural" hit during WW2?

Woody Woodpecker "with his innate chutzpah and brash demeanor, ... was a natural hit during World War II. His image appeared on US aircraft as nose art", Wikipedia says. Why was Woody Woodpecker a "...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
565 views

What is Adios Bruce Lee?

A co-worker of mine came in wearing a shirt with this image on it: This looks like a movie poster, but I'd never heard of that particular Bruce Lee movie, so I tried looking it up. As near as I can ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 120k
7 votes
4 answers
1k views

Earliest examples of "pop culture" in history

What is the earliest evidence of pop culture/viral trends throughout history? By pop culture I mean music, theater etc... Basically "gangam style" of the olden days. I understand that any sort of ...
eskimo's user avatar
  • 181
13 votes
1 answer
5k views

"No sane man will dance."? When / where / about-what did Cicero say this?

I hate quotes out of context, even great lines like "No sane man will dance." -- which was allegedly uttered by Cicero. But every time the quote is used, context is omitted. Was Cicero really ...
Brock Adams's user avatar
15 votes
6 answers
2k views

Were there any war movies made during WW2 that were well regarded by front-line American soldiers?

I've read in a few places that American soldiers during WWII (meaning men who had actually seen combat, not rear echelon troops) preferred light comedy or romance movies to the sanitized propaganda in ...
Rose Ames's user avatar
  • 3,728
11 votes
5 answers
967 views

What factors contributed to the popularity of Eastern cultures in the USA in late 20th century?

Question says mostly all. To be more concrete, I am talking about the popularity of Krishna and Buddhism on the religious side, and stuff like yoga on the more practical side. Some other things might ...
apoorv020's user avatar
  • 1,694
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was there actually a project by the Nazis to create supernatural monsters/weapons? [closed]

In many American sci-fi/fantasy fictional works, there's a trope about Nazis creating/attempting to create/use supernatural weapons/monsters (examples Hellboy movie, Indian Jones movie etc.) What, if ...
apoorv020's user avatar
  • 1,694