Allusions made in television shows tend to reveal a great deal about pop culture as touched upon in previous vectors such as the Wizard of Oz and that 70s show along with the Farrah Fawcett vector. In the same vein, I thought a Futurama episode I watched the other day captured American pop culture particularly well. The episode titled Where the Buggalo Roam has all of the same components mostly. The same characters Fry, Leela, Amy, Bender, and Dr. Zoidburg are present. They are all visiting Mars to celebrate Mars Day with Amy’s parents, The Wongs, which commemorates the day the Wongs bought Mars from the Martians for a single bead. While I watched the episode unfold in typical fashion with Bender being a wisecrack and Fry wandering about aimlessly from one moment to the next I noticed the Wong’s place on Mars to be closely resembling a ranch out west in the Western United States. It is exposed that the Wongs profit comes from their buggalos which appear to be giant beetles with white and black spotted wings similar to cow’s hide. These buggalos are the Wong’s livelihood. This reinterpretation of an American rancher on Mars was taken a step further in the episode when the episode introduces a cattle herder and a walking and talking camel smoking a cigarette. These characters are briefly in the episode to make Kif, who’s Amy’s boyfriend, jealous while he’s trying to impress her parents that weekend. For me these characters were unmistakably the Marlboro Man and the Camel on the Camel cigarette packages. The camel is referred to as Joe Camel in the episode which is the name the cigarette company used in their ads. Heres an example of an ad Camel used. This picture in particular is a reference to the Joe Camel clip from the Futurama episode.
I thought it said a lot about pop culture because in high school in my Pop Culture and the American Identity class we talked about icons like the Marlboro Man that were so easily identifiable by people through mediums like television and billboards. Though they are fictitious these figures are associated with brand names and products that a lot of people use. It should be argued here that since America is very consumer oriented people know more about brand names and products. It was also interesting to me because from friend watching the episode didn’t immediately pick up on it but we both agreed that it was a valid allusion. I’d be interested to hear what other people in the class have to say. Heres the link. Marlboro Man and Joe Camel(6:05-6:15)