Pop culture references – hip or dated
I recently read Rick Reed’s Bashed and commented on the large number of brand names listed. For me, this was distracting as I was concentrating on the brand names such as Prius or Ascics or 501s and the personal references they have for me instead of paying attention to the action and what was going on in the story. Mr. Reed commented saying that he felt the references kept the story current.
Now I don’t disagree with that but then reading a few more books with similar references (not to the same level but making a point to add these details). Specifically I find books LOVE to give car models and use short hand in some details. Instead of describing clothing, it’s easy to give brands and let the reader knowledge take over.
I wonder if this is really current or dates a book?
Now if a popular TV show is included in a book, say a random mention in casual conversation that characters may have, does this make the story current? If you’re reading the story just after it comes out, it may well be. For example, talking about Glee right now seems very hip and “in” even though I’ve never seen the show. I do know its some musical about gay teenagers or something. However if someone picks up the book 2 years from now, will the reference still be as “in” and current. Or will that now date the book.
I don’t necessarily have an issue with that level of detail but I think it’s distracting if it doesn’t have a purpose. Who cares that the characters is driving a Prius or an Escalade or a Chevy unless it has some relevance. Does it reveal something about the people or the plot?
So, what’s your feeling.
Do you like that level of detail? Or do you find it distracting?
Is it current and modern or dated?
I’m curious what readers and authors alike think.