Pop Consciousness

21 August, 2008 at 3:48 pm (film, music)

A couple of days ago I read an article on the BBC entertaiment feed that The Banana Splits show was being reinvigorated for a contemporary audience. I don’t have much of a particular connection with the Splits, and can’t really distinguish them in my memory from The Great Space Coaster, as they were all very occasional Saturday morning re-runs to me, despite being a decade apart in production. The only thing that really interested me was that the BBC website has undergone a streamline change of appearance recently (that I hadn’t previously registered), and had a nice embedded Flash player version of the “classic” Tra La La song which was their theme.

Kicking and Screaming: GroverAnd this is where my memory grabs hold of the whole retro shtick. Y’see, there’s a great scene in Noah Baumbach’s Kicking & Screaming (no, not that K&S) where Grover (no, not that Grover) is lounging awkwardly in a dorm room party, whilst in the background the Liz Phair cover of the Splits theme from the alternative band Saturday Morning compilation plays. Or so I thought, when I first watched the film. It turns out that they were actually listening to Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier“, something I would have caught, were I just a little more hip.

But that was okay. I still liked the subtext of the scene. It’s one of those odd pop culture connections that take place in one’s head out of almost sheer desperation when one is wallflowering at a party. “Buffalo Soldier” reminds Grover of the Banana Splits which in turn makes him wonder about the Josie and the Pussycats episode that he calls up Max about. It’s not delineated, step-by-step, but it makes sense. An audience member can fill in the blanks.

Or so I thought. Yesterday Mr. Wheeler linked to the Beeb’s follow-up article that analyzes the similarities between “Buffalo Soldier” and “The Tra La La song” and finds them lacking in key essential similarity. I think this is like the case of the Nokia ringtone and it’s origin from “Gran Vals“, by Francisco Tarrega… there is a key tonal difference between the two (fast forward two minutes in), but one would never dispute the obvious commonalities.

Related Links:
+ Kicking and Screaming: DVD by the Criterion Collection
+ Kicking and Screaming: Analysis by Chronological Snobbery
+ Liz Phair, “The Tra La La song“, Saturday Morning

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