Sing, O Muse, of Young Skywalker
Cultural pessimists like George Steiner claim that nowadays, nobody has a cultural frame of reference anymore. Poets who refer to Achilles cause confusion in modern readers, who are not taught who Achilles was. After all, education these days no longer focuses on learning facts, but instead on developing generic 'learning skills' and the ability to 'search for data'. This trivializes our cultural heritage and impoverishes our society, Steiner claims.
In the TV series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', the character called Xander in one episode states, 'Maybe they're on their way here. I mean, this place is NORAD, and we are at DefCon One.' This quote will stomp most viewers of Steiner's generation. Self-respecting GenXers, however (well, the male ones, anyway), recognize Xander's reference to the movie 'Wargames'.
So how would Steiner respond to this? Undoubtedly, he'd note that 'Star Wars' and 'Godzilla' are trivial trash, whereas 'The Odyssey' and Shakespeare's plays are works of art. And he is, of course, right. After all, 'The Odyssey' doesn't feature an invincible hero who meets all sorts of strange creatures, gets into wild adventures, and kills the bad guys in the end. And in its day, it was studied exclusively by scholars and not understood by mere schoolgoing children. Similarly, the works of Shakespeare are devoid of sensationalism or sentimentalism and, at the time, only appreciated by a small intellectual elite.