We were at the ballgame today, and as baseball fans in particular will do, we were discussing players we'd known and loved, talking about all the goofy lists fans will make when they're bored. You know what I mean if you're a fan, too ... Best Team Composed of San Francisco Giants Who Hit Left-Handed, or All Hair-Team ... stuff like that.
I started thinking about how I've constructed some of my course syllabi in the past, and realized there was something similar involved. Let's say you're doing what we were doing this afternoon, trying to name the best players at each position that we'd seen play who weren't in the Hall of Fame. For Yankee fans like my friend, this is often called the Don Mattingly Award (Giants fans might name it after, oh, Jim Ray Hart, A's fans could mention Gene Tenace). Well, that's what you do when you are teaching a course on, say, Teenagers in American Popular Culture since the 1950s. I taught such a course once, and for that class, I showed one movie from each of five decades (50s thru 90s). I'm not sure I even remember all of the movies now ... let me try ... Blackboard Jungle, Wild in the Streets, Saturday Night Fever, River's Edge, maybe Boyz n the Hood. Doesn't really matter what I picked ... might have worked Breakfast Club in there, can't recall. The point is, I was playing the same game baseball fans play when they name an All Facial-Hair Team.
Try it yourself ... heck, leave a comment if you'd like. Maybe I should be more specific, to make this manageable, or maybe no one cares enough to leave a comment, which is certainly possible, perhaps likely. So here goes:
You are teaching a course on American Popular Culture of the past 50 years. As part of that course, you will be spending a few weeks on the 1970s. You have time to include one movie, one book, and one television series, and you will spend one lecture talking about the most representative pop music of that decade. What would you choose? Just like the baseball fan who has to reject Will Clark in favor of Norm Cash, you'll have to eliminate all but one movie, or book, or whatever.
The only easy answer for me is a cheat: I'd show the first two Godfather movies (I always treat them as one). For the rest, I'd have to think on it.