real world cultural references in the series

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    By Jove its holmes

    There’s a reference to the Cold War (still not quite over when this was made) in “Backwards”.

    Lister initially thinks the backwards world is Bulgaria and seems to think it’s still part of the Eastern Bloc as when the are trying to ride the bicycle, he says:

    “You probably have to be a government official to get one that goes forwards!”


    Ben Saunders

    I never clocked that as some sort of Bulgaria-specific joke, lol. So thanks for pointing that out.

    There’s obvious stuff like James Last, Carmen Miranda, Rupert Murdoch, FIFA, the BBC in the 1970s, etc etc, but that’s a lot more obscure. There’s also stuff like Lister’s many digs at Scotland’s obesity problem that awkwardly implies that the 23rd century still has the same class/health divide/stereotypes as the modern UK, and Lister knowing what specific UK football teams were like in the 1970s-1990s, which if you think about it for any length of time is just bizarre, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking for here.



    It’s not awkwardly done you’re just offended.

    My particular favorite is the reference to the Cincinnati Bengals in Justice when Cat says Lister should paint his space mumps their colors.


    Ben Saunders

    Cat has to have heard Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear at some point
    Rimmer somehow knows who the Osmond family are?


    Ben Saunders

    The Eurovision Song Contest is still going in the 23rd Century (or Holly watched all of television as well, after reading every book)



    In Krysis, when Rimmer says, “What do you suggest? A lunar road trip herding vacuum cleaners?” He’s referencing the plot of City Slickers.

    When Kryten says “Quayle” among the genius inventors who created Legion, he’s referring to the first George Bush’s vice president, Dan Quayle, who had a reputation for being stupid, hence why the audience laughs at his mention.



    In Lemons, “Club 18-30: the holy version” is jokingly said when they mention Jesus’s “missing years” between his childhood and by the time he was 30. Club 18-30, as the name suggests, was a British holiday company specializing in organizing holiday vacations for people in that age group.



    Rimmer attributing Glenn Miller being returned by aliens in D.N.A. is a reference to his plane disappearing over the English Channel in 1944. In the same episode, Lister’s recalling of the Polymorph attack is referencing Die Hard 2.

    Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, is mentioned in Justice and Officer Rimmer.

    In Meltdown, during the rollcall of his waxdroid battalion, Rimmer references An Officer and a Gentleman and Full Metal Jacket when talking to the troops. Rimmer calling Elvis, “Sergeant Presley”, is a reference to his actual rank by the time of his discharge from the U.S. Army. The evil waxdroids not mentioned include a member of the Ku Klux Klan and what is presumably a member of the Hell’s Angels.



    MAKE MY DAY on the simulant’s gun in Justice is a Dirty Harry reference.

    Kryten is named after The Admirable Crichton.



    When Rimmer says urine should only be green if you’re Mr Spock, he is referencing the episode of Star Trek where Spock’s kidneys rupture and he starts pissing green Vulcan blood.



    Christ, are we going to try and do all of them?

    (I’m sure someone once compiled a list of these years back, anyway, didn’t they? I remember it being linked from here at some point.)




    That’s the one.


    Plastic Percy

    Kochanski is mentioned as growing up in Gorbals, an area of Glasgow, and its suggested to be a posh or affluent area. I guess the joke is that at the time of filming, the area had a reputation going back years for being rife with crime and street gangs. Obviously, by the 21st/22nd/23rd century, it’s undergone significant gentrification.


    Ben Saunders

    The idea of anyone from Glasgow being that posh is itself funny



    He’s gone into self-loathing, we’ve come full circle.


    Nick R

    In addition to the link clem posted, there’s also Ridley’s Letterboxd list of all the films referenced in Red Dwarf:



    It’s just an excerise to pass the time, not a collective documentation.

    Besides I’m pretty sure OP intended for references to geopolitical scenarios and such, not to pop culture like we ran away with.


    Flap Jack

    In The End, Rimmer says “Death? It’s like being on holiday with a group of Germans.”

    This is a reference to the real life countries, East Germany and West Germany.



    In Backwards, it is the year 1993. This is a reference to the fact that time in our universe is actually running backwards and 1993 was in our past


    Taiwan Tony

    Has anyone compiled a list of lists that list the modern references in Red Dwarf…?
    And this is where it starts to get a little bit confusing.


    By Jove its holmes

    Even TV Tropes Dot Org decides to take a time out to mention how RD I to III have a lot of 1980s references despite the setting. GNP weren’t thinking too far ahead, were they? (see what I did there?)



    The 1980s references in series I to III aren’t very distracting, though, and what they do reference is usually pretty well-known and significant to modern pop culture outside the odd reference to whatever Dustin Hoffman movie was playing at the time.


    Ben Saunders

    The Last Day is actually a scathing critique of Thatcherism…………….


    Ben Saunders

    You can go to uni at 60. You can still feel like you’re fresh out of drama school at 36. It’s not worth anything to know how old Simm was when he took up the roll, because he feels like a nich more mature, experienced actor. Matt Smith was 16 when he was cast as the Doctor but he never feels as studenty as the new Master. Those initial pictures did really worry people, though. And the actors in Samsara just feel inexperienced, even if they are 40 and have 200 credits to their names each. That’s what the word “feel” means


    Ben Saunders

    Wrong thread!!!!! I don’t know how I managed this. Apologies. I just look like a raving lunatic now



    Nice to get a glimpse onto the factory floor to see the Ben-being-a-dick-to-me production line in all its joyless glory though.

    Bonus points for sarcastically referencing an unbumped post of mine in another thread from about six months ago. Not that you’re obsessed or anything.


    Ben Saunders

    Alright mate






    The Ishtar joke is an interesting one. The film only came out a couple of years before Timeslides was first aired, so I suppose at the time it might have been slightly jarring, like if there was an equivalent line about Cats in the special. It’s still a famously much-derided film though, so I’ve never thought of that line as having aged badly either, and I suppose you could argue part of the joke is that even so far in the future it’s a bit of a byword for box-office flops. The line isn’t in Remastered.



    > Bonus points for sarcastically referencing an unbumped post of mine in another thread from about six months ago. Not that you’re obsessed or anything.

    to be fair though Darrell, Series 3 supposedly being scathing political commentary is one of the maddest Red Dwarf theories that’s ever been posted on G&T



    Why is that mad? Particularly as we are currently in a world where a good 50% or more of popular drama is explicitly alluding to Brexit and/or Trump – this is surely not a wild concept to backdate 30 years. Dozens of big shows were modelled as attacks on the government of the time, some more subtly than others. Then again, if Timeslides was any more on the nose about Thatcher she’d be in the bastard thing.

    Only Fools and Horses covered all these *exact* same themes in the same year, btw. And that show wasn’t written by the former showrunners of the UK’s most popular political satire show and produced by the man who had been behind 90% of all the left-wing political TV comedy made throughout the entire decade.



    >Then again, if Timeslides was any more on the nose about Thatcher she’d be in the bastard thing.

    i fail to see how it’s on the nose about anything, it’s an episode about a bunch of people time travelling by jumping into photographs and one of them using it to change history. i don’t know politics *that* well, but i’m pretty sure margaret thatcher wasn’t well known for hurling herself at polaroids. also considering you’re the only person who i’ve ever heard mention this supposedly obvious political commentary, it seems incredibly far-fetched to be honest. surely somebody else would have noticed this connection in the 30 years the episode has been out?



    Summarised, it’s a satire of free market economics/free enterprise and yuppy culture. Bodyswap is more or less about the same thing – the politics and psychology of yuppy greed. Both episodes have tangible influence from the film ‘Wall Street’ (released in the UK in 1988).

    The Last Day is sharply resonant of issues that came into sharp focus at the end of the 80s/start of the 90s after the retirement/pensions equation was altered in a fundamental way by utilitarian Thatcher economics. These ideas were newsworthy when The Last Day was written and made, and despite all the robot jokes and the prominent Terminator parody elements in the Hudzen 10 character, the episode is essentially a satirical, post-Thatcher take on Logan’s Run above all else. The original themes of the episode are a bit muddled these days when planned obsolescence of technology is not only a real-life thing but a major moral and ecological issue of our time, but the effect as intended is about hyper-capitalism versus the elderly – another Thatcher story.

    Saying it can’t be so because Margaret Thatcher didn’t travel through magic polaroids is like saying Close Encounters isn’t about Watergate because Richard Nixon never boarded a flying saucer. Sci-fi has *always* articulated political discussion in a lateral way. I’m not trying to be pretentious or put forward an outrageous theory here, this is in the text and the context.

    Pretty much the entire original premise of Red Dwarf is a state-of-the-nation address about the class system and working culture in 1980s Britain, and Rob and Doug solidified the political elements around the time of III – see also the relentless allusions and imagery in the first two novels about the heroin problem in working class Britain (just as urgent and newsworthy as Third World famine and the AIDS crisis were in the late 80s before it became normalised out of antipathy).

    There is a definite gear change from IV onwards towards less heavy going subject matter, and a bigger focus on pop-psych and film parody (Polymorph becomes the template for IV-VI really), but I’m honestly not talking bollocks about how much politics and topicality was in the original incarnation of the show.



    People could make fun of you for that, but I admire the creativity involved in this theory.



    I mean certainly you’d have to be insulting and ignorant to a fault to think that Grant Naylor’s writing process consisted entirely of two chuckling savants who existed somehow in a political and socio-economic bubble pulling wacky space shit out of their heads at random like a Mancunian Beavis & Butthead or a pair of PG Tips chimps flailing at an Amstrad.

    It’s neither my fault nor my problem that someone might be less interested in the social and cultural history of the 1980s than I might be, and there’s no point anybody flapping at me because they can’t be arsed reading about it.



    Tell you what though, I think I’ll follow John out the door. Bye.



    That’s a shame, sorry to see you go



    the back door, presumably



    Let’s not kick him while he’s down


    Pete Part Three

    Fucksake, guys.



    Well this is all deeply regrettable.


    Taiwan Tony

    Sensitive soul, isn’t he.
    I shall miss him. Again.
    It makes sense though. Once Rob and Doug had rinsed the original conceit of 2 people and a cat being stuck together in space of all its ideas, they’re going to look for inspiration from the wider world.
    I wouldn’t use the same hyperbolic language, mind. I’d perhaps have used a ‘broad’ or ‘light satire.’ Stuff like that. I mean, if you believe all the shit you read in cahiers du cinema, it’s possible Rob and Doug and Peter didn’t know what they were doing…. Or that they knew exactly.
    (In all senses.)



    Post #257503 had its moments, I thought.



    Update the list you lazy cunt


    Ben Saunders

    Obviously anything made in the 80s is slightly about the 80s, on account of being made in the 80s and being influenced by the writers living in the 80s. There’s a good documentary on the DVD of I think Frontier In Space, which talks about how the future presented by Pertwee’s era of Who is a very 70s future, that can tell us a lot about the mindstate of the writers and designers at the time, and presents a future based very much on the worries/hopes/trends of the people at the time. But to stretch that out to Timeslides being a critique of Thatcher is just a little far to me. Me referencing that was just supposed to be a little comical reference to an earlier discussion, I found it quite funny, but I guess he took it as an attack.


    By Jove its holmes

    It’s TVTropes Dot Org who said that the preponderance of Eighties references in Series One to Three look out of place in the futuristic setting now that we are two decades into the 21st Century.


    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    Fuck’s sake, I have one day off and this happens. Well done, dickheads.



    I blame a lack of traditional family structures, drugs and ‘yoof’ culture, according to this Young Conservative pamphlet from 1985.



    I always thought Kryten was named after Michael Crichton who of course at the time was famous for books about robots. The multiple references to dinosaurs in the later series reflect MC becoming more famous for dinosaur books.

    As for the political stuff..I mean obviously series 1-3 have a lot about society in them (heck right down to the class/north-south divide in Lister and Rimmer).. I’m not sure if timeslides is a critique of Thatcher or just a product of the era. I mean, I’m not sure if thicky, rimmer and lister were portrayed as being bad for wanting to get rich with the sheet, just lucky.



    It had never occurred to me Kryten would be a reference to Michael Crichton … very well could be though.



    I believe Kryten’s named after the titular butler in The Admirable Chrichton.



    If only one of the characters had pointed out that specific reference at some point.


    Pete Part Three

    That’s just a strange coincidence, along with the plot of the play being reflected in the episode.



    Just a bit, eh?


    Ben Saunders

    “The multiple references to dinosaurs in the later series reflect MC becoming more famous for dinosaur books.”
    Can you explain this, lol?



    sorry just my attempt at silly humor. I don’t actually know if Michael Crichton was an influence on Kryten’s name, I just imagined it could have been as a kid. Then of course MC got bigger with the Jurassic Park books and Dwarf coincidentally did it’s own JP with Pete…



    Of course all of the multiple surgeries Kryten has performed over the course of the series is a reference to Michael Crichton being a doctor, and creator of ER.



    the despair squids are similar to the story of Sphere and of course the Chimp in Entangled is clever like the one in Congo. The Dwarfers have gone back to Medieval times like the characters in Timeslides and…oh crap Waxworld probably is a reference to Westworld. Maybe there’s something in this after all.


    Pete Part Three

    Next you’ll be telling us that Back to Earth is based on BladeRunner..



    Polymorph was of course heavily influenced by regular-Morph on Take Hart.


    Ben Saunders

    Ah, lol, I thought that was a genuine theory you had, and was really interested in what the other examples of Dwarf referencing dinosaurs more and more were, lmao.



    Think you should be weary of discussing other people’s theories for the time being.


    Pete Part Three

    Think we should all just be wary of not being dicks.



    I’m being realistic here.


    Ben Saunders

    I’m not a miracle worker.

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