Ever correct strangers when you overhear a factual error in their pop-culture conversation?

Varsityblues_lThis weekend, I was walking behind two men who were discussing Varsity Blues, one of their favorite "college movies." I thought about correcting them, but didn’t, because (A) I knew I wouldn’t stop at telling them that it’s actually set in high school. I’d also have to share how, when I saw the film on opening weekend, the entire row I was sitting with said the "I don’t want your life" line along with James Van Der Beek. And (B) These gentlemen appeared to appreciate the film mostly for the whipped cream scene, and quickly launched into a conversation about their preferred cup size.

But back to the question at hand: Have you ever been tempted to correct a factual error you overheard a stranger make in a pop-culture conversation? And if you did, how was your input received? I’ve piped up when I’ve heard people struggling to name a song or movie or TV show. That’s just being helpful. But I’ve never had the cojones to correct them on something they think they know.

addCredit(“James Van Der Beek: Everett Collection”)

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  • Joan

    I usually don’t correct the mistakes of others, but I often find that I make note of it and complain later. I have a tendency to remember dates and when I hear people say a movie was made in 1986 when I know it was ’83, I want to scream.

  • Elm

    Not to skirt the question, but did you ever think that they called it a “college” movie because that was when they saw it (while they were students in college), versus discussing what type of school in which the movie took place?

  • Nose

    Mandi, it takes every bit of self-control I have not to correct people when they say Jake Gyllenhaal’s name wrong or misquote movies. I actually only do this with my close friends, because they already know what a nerd I am. I don’t like to inflict that on others until I get to know them. I actually did this the other day while discussing Casablanca. It went a little something like this:
    Nose’s Friend: Ha, and then he says, Play it again, Sam.
    Nose: Um, you know, he never ACTUALLY says that.
    Nose’s Friend: You are such a nerd.

  • Laura

    If it’s someone I know, even remotely, I don’t hesitate at all to correct/help them (i.e., “What was that guy in?” “Oh, you know, this and this and the other thing”). If it’s a total stranger, I’ll hesitate, but if they seem to be in a good mood I generally jump right in.

  • J from VA

    I’ve done it before but I usu try to stop myself b/c I know I look like a jerk. I did have to correct a friend who always refered to all tv shows as sitcoms. I held off for a year but one day just snapped and explained the difference between an hour long drama and sitcoms. Needless to say he looked at me like I was a crazy man for caring about the distinction. But, tv addicts have bad reactions like all other addicts I suppose.

  • Crystal

    I am the biggest nerd and annoyance ever and will totally correct someone or “be helpful” with the bit of trivia if I have it. It’s a fault, I know, but I can’t help it. I’ve gotten all sorts of reactions, from sincere thanks to a look that said “loser, who cares and who asked you anyway?”
    My fav memory of this was when I was home for Christmas in Hicksville and saw the first LOTR with my fam. After the movie was over the group behind me went into this discussion about when the other movies were coming out, if they were getting made, etc. I kept my mouth shut as long as I could but after too many errors on their part I went into an “actually, they shot all the movies together…” speech that my family still laughs about. My sister said I was so annoyed I looked like I was going to punch one of the louder “know it all” men.

  • soulman

    I’ve done it a few times, and I try to be as modest and “oh yeah, this is not a big deal, but…” as possible. It’s still a little awkward, though…

  • Cara

    Happens all the time :). And it always happens before I actually realize I’m doing it, so it’s way too late to stop myself.
    For example, once when I was in class, there were two kids sitting in the row in front of me, talking. At one point in the conversation, one of them turned to the other and said, “I’m so excited! American Gladiators premieres tonight, I’m so psyched to watch it!”. Before I could stop myself, I was leaning over and saying, “NO. That’s wrong. American Gladiators premiered LAST SUNDAY. You missed it.”
    The reaction: strange looks. Also, a strange fury on my part for their lack of knowledge about premiere dates for a show I didn’t even watch.

  • Sara

    Oh dear lord, Joan–are you serious? I have a pretty good head for trivia like that-but if you expect me to remember exactly what year every movie ever came out, there’s no WAY more than a handful of people could live up to that standard.
    I’ve occasionally answered questions like that that people throw my way becuase they know I’ll know what David Hasselhoff’s ex-wife’s name is–but I think it’s sometimes cool when someone corrects me–but sometimes it’s just annoying/embarassing–guess it just depends on the delivery.

  • Dawn

    I was in the restroom after seeing Juno and overheard this conversation:
    Girl #1: Oh my god, I LOVE Ellen Page.
    Girl #2: Oh me too, she was SO good when she was on ALIAS.
    Girl #1: Yeah, I’ve liked her ever since then.
    Sadly I was in a stall (TMI?) and didn’t know who said it. I should have probably just shouted out at them.

  • banana

    I have corrected a few people becasue it kind of just slipped out but they responded by saying “oh really i didn’t know thanks for telling me so i dont look like a fool when i tell someone else.” but most of the time i just keep it to myself and bite my tongue so i dont say anything!!

  • Ned

    I was at a bar last year, when I heard someone telling a large group that Marilyn Manson used to be on the 80’s TV show “Small Wonder”, as the robot girl’s brother. I interrupted him, and explained that, although there are many long-running rumors that Mr. Manson was a child actor, none of them are true. “No one asked you!” the man exclaimed, and he stabbed me in the shoulder with his pocketknife.

  • Nose

    I also find that even when the info is solicited, like if we’re all sitting around, and someone will say, “Who was that guy on (insert obscure tv reference here)?” and I answer, I still get blank stares for knowing the answer.
    It ain’t easy being a pop culture nerd.

  • bb

    I do it every day on a national radio program, they actually refer to me now if they don’t know what they are talking about.

  • Cherry

    I was at a fundraising gala for an organization where I had just been hired but hadn’t actually started working yet. The Bacon Brothers Band performed. Afterward, a board member and a celebrity at my table started talking about Kevin Bacon and the different movies he’s been in. At one point the Board member asked if he was in The Outsiders. The celebrity said she didn’t know, and at that point, though intimidated by my surroundings but not by my knowledge of The Outsiders, spoke up to assure them that he was not in the film, which then sparked a tangent on who else was in it. Then, one of them asked if Mickey Rourke was in it. I said no, but that he probably auditioned for it. They all nodded in agreement as if they were sure he had. A very surreal beginning to a new job.

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