Ryan Westbrook wrote:Alright, I'm coming to this discussion late and it's silly of me to wade into trash discussion anyway. But, I really don't understand the rationale being put forth by lots of people who say we should limit older topics and write on stuff that younger people enjoy. Why do we not treat trash the same way we treat academic tourneys? In good academic tourneys, answers are usually chosen because they are defined as "important" in some absolute sense - as integral to whatever topic they are classified under. Sure, answers have to be accessible enough for the given tourney, but they aren't usually chosen merely because people enjoy hearing about them. Mythology and literature are very popular (and answerable) topics according to the vast majority of good academic players, but noone suggests we bump them up to 10/10 just because we're generally not as enthralled by other topics (and there are areas in academic play that very few people really like or look forward to hearing, but we still put them in, because we say "eh, this is important, people study this, it played a key role in blah blah, etc.").
Trash seems to be just the opposite. People seem reluctant to create a loose sphere of "important" things in the pop culture world. Now, if you're writing a trash tourney just for kicks and giggles (or writing just a small handful of trash questions for the hell of it), sure - I'd say write on whatever amuses you, within reasonable bounds. But, if we're talking about designated trash tourneys and "proper trash distro," why shouldn't iit be more analogous to academic? When you don't know anything about a certain academic topic, even one that may be difficult for you to learn about or that you have no real interest in learning about - you read packets, books, look stuff up online, etc...and pretty soon you do know some stuff about it. You don't make some contorted argument that it's not important or relevant enough to be asked about. I'm sure there's all kinds of stuff on the net about the inner details of Airwolf, the oft-used example.
For example, I love how noone here questions the inclusion of 4/4 sports or 2/2 video games, presumably because most/all of you are 18-30 year old males who love those things. And so do I, but I think it's a pretty spurious claim that the pop culture universe holds video games important enough to occupy 10 percent of a packet. I think 4/4 of sports, music, tv, and movies seems reasonable enough. But I fail to see any argument for priveleging one decade over another, except for maybe a slight over-representation of more modern stuff on the grounds that what is happening right now is intrinsically more important in a pop culture sense.
Without getting into an argument on the distribution of sports and videogames, I feel I need to respond to the first two paragraphs in this post.
I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding the purpose of a "trash" tournament. Every trash tournament I've ever been to has been essentially molding "popular culture" into a quizbowl format. Because "popular culture" is a constantly changing entity that has different meanings to different people, there will always be discussions of what exactly popular culture is, and how it should be reflected in a tournament's distribution.
From what I've made of your post, you seem to be arguing for some sort of "recent fine arts" tournament, wherein there is some pretend canon of arbitrarily defined "important" works that we ask about regardless of whether they're in the popular culture realm anymore. I don't think I would enjoy playing in such a tournament at all, and I'd wager most quizbowl and trash players would not either. I guess if there was some formal trash canon it would be easier to do the bullshit quizbowl studying of the canon to markedly improve oneself in the game. Yes, you can still do things like study Oscar winners, the Billboard chart the day before the tournament, sports statistics and what have you, but generally people "prepare" for trash tournaments by taking in popular culture. If we define some rigid canon that places highly artificial "importance" on topics and as time goes on becomes accessible by just studying the canon, simply absorbing popular culture isn't going to help too much in preparing for trash tournaments.
And are you really serious that because it's feasible that someone can study something like Airwolf that it would be valid in a trash tournament not held in 1986 or whenever the hell the show aired? And then are you saying that people don't come on this forum and bitch that things in academic tournaments are acanonical or ridiculously obscure? Look at that whole discussion of this year's Sun 'n Fun for a war of lists over "this dude shouldn't come up" rather than "man that was hard... I better go look him up!"
Regardless, I think we have arrived at what is "important" in popular culture, and it is things that are either current enough that they can be reasonably expected to be exposed to the audience attending the tournament or an ever-more-recent-moving list of things produced in the past that have had such an endearing legacy that they're still known today (Oscar Winners, very famous sports figures, etc.).