Bones Theory

Vintage Bones: The Woman in the Tunnel- IAYA- Brennan and Pop Culture


Good morning!

So…do you think Brennan’s (early or current, if you want) lack of pop culture knowledge is realistic? In this episode, she has no idea who Charlize Theron is nor the game Clue. Booth says it’s unbelievable (but don’t worry, it’s that “Unbelieveable, Bones” kind of way that proves he likes her a lot, haha), and I sort of agree. I absolutely can see that she is not to be bothered with superfluous information, so I don’t see her reading popular magazines or anything like that. Then again, there is NO WAY she had no idea who Michael Jackson was (much later in the series). Right?

But do you think it’s realistic?


In the meantime, here is your B&B of the day

The “Doesn’t matter how many times he tells her to stay behind him, she will not be doing that” B&B

From The Woman in the Tunnel: Season One


29 thoughts on “Vintage Bones: The Woman in the Tunnel- IAYA- Brennan and Pop Culture

  1. I don’t think that it is necessarily UNrealisitc that someone like Brennan would be clueless when it come to pop culture. However, the writers (and the -s part of that probably explains most of this) haven’t been entirely consistent. I watched the Pilot a couple of days ago and she uses the term “booty call.” Granted, it was the Pilot, and they were still fleshing things out. I get that. But it doesn’t jive for me. So I hand wave. I’m more forgiving of things like that early in the series because they were finding their footing. Whatevs.

    The Michael Jackson, thing, though? Totally insane. No freakin’ way she’s never HEARD of him. But! I love Booth’s little dance, especially the doosh doosh with the hip thrusts at the end. So I’m good. The end justifies the mean in that instance as far as I’m concerned.

    As for this episode, my favorite scene is when they are in the car and Brennan asks again what he did in the Army and Booth gets all serious and says, (paraphrased;-) “If you really want to know, I’ll tell you. But you better be ready for the truth.” And she doesn’t comment to which he answers, “Good choice, Bones.” I recently remembered that scene and then had to scour my brain to figure out which ep it was, because I just NEEDED to see it again. Sometimes that happens to me;-) This convo, coupled with the bit from Woman in the Car about the fact that Booth apparently tortured people…that’s some good fanfic fodder. And it reminded me of a post on va32h’s blog about how sometimes lack of detail actually makes the story BETTER and in this case, I think it certainly makes Booth’s character more interesting.

    • And doesn’t Booth say “MJ” right there? Am I just remembering it that way because I want to hear Booth say my name? Probably. Don’t disillusion me.

      • I have no idea. I was focused on the hips. Did you see the hips?

        Doosh doosh.

        My keyboard may malfunction because of drool.

  2. I would find it more believeable if it was written a bit more consistently for her. For example, I have friends that grew up home schooled. They are really intelligent and learned all the proper school things, but they totally don’t have any idea about the majority of pop culture. I could quote a song, or a movie…no idea. I have to be patiently explaining to them all the time in a very Angela-type way what things mean.

    However, Brennan is up and down. She has no idea what American Idol is, but she instantly knows and loves Seal? That seemed very odd to me! I was thinking, how in the world does Temperance Brennan know Seal but nothing else? There are other instances, but that one stands out the most to me. Or a lot of times, she has misunderstanding of things that I’m fairly certain a genius could figure out on their own…hehe but that’s just the whole writing her character issue again 🙂

    But yes, it is very possible to pop culture deficient even in this day and age. If you aren’t raised with that in your life, its easily done.

    • I used to be a nanny for a kid who attended public school, but whose parents were VERY strict about television (no TV at all on school days and very limited on weekends), and there were things that they were totally clueless about. Her teenage brother had never heard of Seinfeld, neither one knew what Dexter’s Lab was. So I can totally see that some kids grow up outside the pop culture bubble. Actually, as a mother of young children, I find myself outside of that bubble. I often see celebrities on the Yahoo! news feed when I sign out of my email whom I don’t recognize. I can sing along with the Tangled soundtrack, but I couldn’t name a single Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber song. Movies come out on DVD that I have never even heard of. I am totally clueless. Unless it’s about Dora or Barbie (or Bones ;-).

      • I see dozens of movies each year, but there are a lot of movies I have never seen that are commercial successes. (But I really like foreign films.) I really have no desire to see the Jackass movies or some of the infantile things of the same ilk that come out, but I’m the one in the family that can talk about movies with people.(I love ghost stories and books about horror, but I absolutely avoid most horror movies because they are scream fests or blood baths.) I don’t watch television except for Bones and Downton Abbey and I’m fine with not knowing the latest twist on American Idol or who got cut on Dancing with the Stars. I’d much rather write or read a good book.

        There’s so much out there that I think we all gravitate to our areas of interest or expertise. I think they’ve tried to do the same with Brennan and so her cultural literacy is spotty, but somewhat plot-driven rather than consistent. I think she’s consistent in knowing sexual slang (booty call that someone mention earlier and understanding the subtleties of the Englishman flirting with her), but then she doesn’t realize the guy on the boat is hitting on her. It stretches the imagination some.

      • I can’t name their songs either, but I do know that Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber exist and that they are singers of some kind. While I agree that there can be parts of pop culture that someone doesn’t know of, to be so totally ignorant seems unrealistic.

  3. I teach high school and I am amazed at the holes in my students’ knowledge, so I have no problem with Brennan’s rather odd lack of cultural literacy. (“You don’t know who Brittany Spears is but you know this movie?”) Granted, I think it would be better if they drew clearer lines, and I would think that she probably would know Michael Jackson, but I see things daily that boggle the mind and stretch credulity with my students and it just floors me. Brennan’s sporadic knowledge seems more plot-driven than character-driven at times or is meant to be humorous. I really don’t mind, especially when I see real-life examples that are much more disturbing.

    Given Brennan’s mad intelligence, I see her delving into her areas of interest and ignoring the trivial. I read the headlines daily and I always have to dig deeper to get real news rather than “Paris Hilton loses her dog” or “Why Brad Pitt is walking with a cane.” So she doesn’t read People. But she does know about the conflict in Kosovo and she knows about white slavery and the sex trade. I’d much rather have more people in the world like her than not.

  4. I also agree that her pop culture knowledge is plot driven as needed by the writers. “Thriller” (the song) and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” were both released in 1984, so I don’t buy for one second that we’re supposed to believe she knew who Cyndi Lauper was but not MIchael Jackson. Pop culture in 1984 was so permeated with everything Michael Jackson that it’s not really believable that she filtered out just Cyndi Lauper. But I’ve learned just to accept it at face value as writer’s liberty and forget about it. Ditto her use of the phrase ‘booty call.’ 😛

  5. I choose to think that Brennan is sometimes winding Booth up by pretending not to know about these things, otherwise I find the inconsistency of it annoying.

    For me, the most glaring and annoying hole in the back story of Brennan is that her parents didn’t leave until she was 15, and yet they have her saying things like she has ‘very few distinct memories’ of her mother (very disturbing, if true). Same goes for Michael Jackson – Max doesn’t come across as the sort of parent that was so strict he allowed no contemporary music in the house or didn’t let them watch TV ever, so it just doesn’t make sense that a young teen Brennan wouldn’t be exposed to Michael Jackson.

    So, I *handwave* these inconsistencies and put it down to her being purposely obtuse – much in the same way Booth purposely mispronounces words to be a bit annoying.

    • Sophia, that was a problem for me in The Prince in the Plastic this season. I mean, she never played? Seriously? What little we know about her parents does not lead me to believe that they would ban toys and force learning down their children’s throats. I mean, it seemed like Max was all about making learning seem like play. Not to mention, there are anthropological purposes for play. There is a reason that a lot of kids’ toys are smaller versions of tools that parents use (cell phones, brooms, laptops, workbenches, dishes, lawnmowers, babies, etc.) Brennan would be aware of this. I feel like that scene with her playing with Prince Charmington was just making a punchline of her and I really hated it. (I did like the rest of the episode, though, and I’ve been mostly pleased with this season. I’m not a hater–I promise;-))

      As for the very few distinct memories, I could maybe buy that. Losing your parents so abruptly, never knowing what happened, then being abandoned by your brother and shunted into foster care is a pretty traumatic experience. Possibly traumatic enough to cause her to repress earlier good memories. And then there’s the issue of what might have happened to her in foster care. They’ve never touched on anything like that, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to believe that SOMETHING traumatic happened to her in the system as well. I mean, beyond the obvious shuffling of homes and families and being treated like an outcast. I think it’s plausible.

      • I think she played, but not a lot. And probably not like most kids. I don’t think it had anything to do with her parents. They probably did want her to play more. During recess, my mom would push me to play instead of reading a book. Brennan liked things like dissecting dead animals and other things most kids don’t get into. Still, I’m with you that the scene with Brennan playing with the doll was a punchline of her. She did enjoy playing with the toy guns. Booth is a former sniper and needs a gun for a job, Brennan always talked about wanting a gun until she got one herself and is a pretty good shot – I’m sensing that there will be no aversion to guns in that household. How long before little B&B learns how to shoot?

        As far as memories go, I think our memory is strengthened as we recall memories. I think she repressed a lot of her memories when she went into foster care. Remembering the good times would only make things harder, and she took her parents’ abandonment very hard. I think it’s possible that she has more memories than she knows, but it would take a lot to draw them out from the recesses of her mind. I wonder if she ever asks Max about some of the earlier times.

  6. i think the first things are realistic. I had no idea what “Clue” was until about five years ago when my friend asked me to play. Likewise, if you asked me two years ago who Charlize Theron was, I would have had no clue. I’ve been living with my sister for two years now though, and have gotten quite the education on pop culture myself.
    I wouldn’t have been able to put the name to a face, or anything else, on the Micheal Jackson front, but I had at least heard the name.

    • If it’s not too personal, I am curious to know how old you are. Feel free to tell me it’s none of my beeswax. I promise not to be offended;-) I am within a couple of years of Brennan’s age (Isn’t she supposed to be about 35 in season 7), and I was familiar with all of those things.

      • On pop culture: I have always been of the opinion that it’s plot driven.

        As CJ’s mom noted, Max does not appear to be the kind of parent who would have cut his kids off completely from pop culture. Given that he never let her win at Blitz (we called it War), I have difficulty believing that they didn’t play other games. Maybe she wasn’t familiar with Clue, but not knowing about the Get Out of Jail Free card also seems implausible to me.

        I am also skeptical about her only being attuned to her interests. In junior and senior high school, my musical interests were strongly oriented toward classical music, but the other music was in the air, literally and figuratively. Brennan may not have had lots of friends, but she would have heard other people talking, heard radios playing, etc. It is incomprehensible to me that she would not know who Michael Jackson was, esp given that she knew who Cyndee Lauper was and knew her music so well that she sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Ditto re: Seal. And, don’t forget “Hot Blooded.”

        As an adult, she goes to the supermarket. You can’t stand in a supermarket check out line without picking up some pop culture. Even Whole Foods has some of that stuff now. Also, she watches enough TV to have stumbled across “Jersey Shore,” so she’s obviously flipping channels. That would also give her some exposure to pop culture in passing.

        I find the deliberately obtuse thing more plausible than that she is as pop culturally ignorant as she appears sometimes.

        On not staying behind Booth, it will be interesting to see if her behavior changes now that she’s a mother. Her comment about Sweets drawing fire from Booth so she doesn’t end up a single mother makes me think that she will exhibit some caution here. Not only doesn’t she want to be a single mother, but she must also be acutely aware of the potential for their child to be orphaned if something happens to both of them. That should lead her to not put herself in danger too unless she absolutely has to. That may be somewhat offset by wanting to have Booth’s back. She may not trust others to do it as well as she does.

      • Thanks Angelena for naming more of them! All I could think of was Seal, because it was so odd that she was so excited to hear the song come on. (I know it was so she could slow dance with Booth, but come on…) If she knows Seal, Cyndi Lauper, Hot Blooded….she doesn’t know Michael Jackson? And she didn’t lose her parents till her teen years, but has no idea what play is? Even if she does prefer dissecting animals and things, she would know what play is. It just seems spotty is all. But I suppose its one of those “hand wave” things we just have to chuckle about I guess.

        Now I would say that her coming home ferom the toy store with a play gun is appropriate, given their line of work, it is the right about of whimsy and play. And her knowing what “Scarface” is, but slightly messing up the title was adorable. That was a plausible scene to me. That she doesn’t study pop culture, but she heard enough about it to make a reference.

      • I’m in my mid-late twenties.

    • I’d be curious to know where you grew up too.

  7. Some of Brennan’s obliviousness reminds me of myself and someone else I know to a greater extent. Sometimes people can’t believe the things I haven’t seen or heard of before. I think a lot of it is plausible. Michael Jackson is the least plausible. I like what Roxane said above about her being more politically aware rather than pop-culture savvy. Is it really that important to know who Charlize Theron is?

  8. I agree that not knowing who Michael Jackson is seems to be the least plausible. Her not following entertainment news in general is believeable to me, especially as one leaves their teen years behind. Brennan liked science from a very early age; I always love when Max describes how she used to make him drive around to find rainbows. Aww. Maybe the Brennan family just was not into games as a form of entertainment so, yeah, I can kind of buy her not knowing Clue.

    As for the B&B of the day: “Doesn’t matter how many times he tells her to stay behind him, she will not be doing that”, I wonder if that part of Brennan may change once she becomes a mother. I could see her taking her responsibility to their daughter very seriously. Brennan knows what it is like to loose a family and, especially, a mother. I could see her really thinking about taking chances with her safety after their daughter is born. She is an anthropologist and Booth is a cop. Brennan really does not have to experience everything in the field in order to do her part in catching the bad guys. Booth’s life is on the line every single day, it’s what he does. And living with that is part of loving a cop/soldier/law enforcement professional but it really does not have to be part of Brennan’s professional world. We’ll have to wait and see but I could see that part of her evolving/changing with motherhood.

  9. “Booth’s life is on the line every single day, it’s what he does. And living with that is part of loving a cop/soldier/law enforcement professional”

    It’s difficult for anyone, I’m sure. Brennan is aware of the danger and I think she handles it pretty well. What I like about Brennan is that she’s not the type to borrow trouble. She only starts to worry when there is evidence of something really could be wrong or something really is wrong. That’s why I really thought she needed to take a break from crime-solving when she was saying what if Booth gets into the same situation as with the Gravedigger and she can’t save him. It’s not like her to engage in what-ifs. Right now, she trusts Booth to keep himself safe as much as possible and I like it that way.

  10. You know, I’ve thought about this a lot. And because I want to believe that Bones is without flaws (even though it is full of flaws as all television shows are) I like to think it’s not so much that Brennan doesn’t KNOW these things, it is more that she doesn’t CARE. Even if this is not the truth, it is what I let myself believe because it helps me sleep at night. 🙂

  11. Wow. This is off topic but has anyone heard the new Jason Maraz song “I won’t give up on us” ? It is THE PERFECT SONG for B&B. Beautiful. Says it all.

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