When do cultural references run out of their expiration date? When are things or people just so far away from the general knowledge base that using them in conversations does nothing else than showing how truly old the person talking is?
For example, if I said that guy over there talks like Edward G. Robinson, would you know what I mean? Just in case you don’t know, Edward G. Robinson was an actor most famous for playing villains in black and white movies. You can still watch those movies, but the guy died in 1973. Is he still part of the general conscience that referring to him is relevant?
How about other movie stars? Marilyn Monroe is still very much on calendars, posters and all kind of imaginable pop trivia items. How about her partner in ‘Gentlemen prefer blondes’ Jane Russel? Or Betty Grabble from ‘How to marry a millionaire’?
We can also look at events and see if they still mean something. For example the Challenger explosion is still very much on my mind. That happened in 1986. Some of my friends were not even born then. Or how about the fall of the Berlin wall or the release of Nelson Mandela? Is something that happened 20 years ago supposed to be an old hat, or is it still relevant? How about things that happened 30 or 40 years ago? How relative and subjective is this time limit? And what are the current major events that we will still think about 20, 30 and 40 years from now?