Time for a couple more answers from Ask Me Anything! 2011.
What other major cultural events (movies, books, TV shows) did you totally avoid? I know DUNE is one and I won't discuss that further. Personally I never have seen 'E.T'. I never wanted to see 'Titanic' but that one slipped through when I got caught up in the sinking of the ship. I only saw LOST the last year and caught up in a few months.
Interesting query! Cal continues to be incensed that I haven't read Dune yet, but it's on my 2011 reading list, and will probably be near the top of my batting order once I get in the mood for SF again. (I tried Dune once, ten years ago, and I got through about fifty pages or so before I finally got frustrated with having to look something up in the glossary every third sentence. It made the reading really choppy.)
But for big pop cultural touchstones that have eluded me completely? This does happen, actually -- happens quite a lot. When I went to college in 1989, I delved into my classical music studies pretty hard core, with the result that most of the pop culture from those years completely went under -- or over -- my radar. I kept up with some of the popular movies of the time, but music? Books? Forget it. There's a wonderful Internet quiz site, Sporcle.com (Warning: that site is second only to Cracked.com as a timewaster) that a couple of friends of mine at work like to play on when we're on lunch. When we do a music quiz -- such as, say, "#1 Song from Each Year in the USA" -- I invariably cannot supply any answers past 1990. The vast majority of pop music of the last twenty years has passed me by.
Mostly it comes down to "Do I want to see/read/hear this? Or don't I?" And often times, if the answer is "Yes", it then comes down to "DO I want to see/read/hear it now, or can I wait a while?" Lots of times I'll simply elect to wait a while and take a "I'll get to that when I get to it" approach. The Harry Potter series was into its third book by the time I got in on the act; I only just saw The Godfather all the way through for the first time less than two years ago. I rarely decide that something is sufficiently important for me to experience it at the moment of its popularity. Sometimes this leaves me a bit at odds with the warp and weft of pop culture and the references to it that fill discussion (for instance, until just a couple of weeks ago, I had no context for the line "The Dude abides").
Ultimately, it's not so much a reaction against what's popular as just a general personal commitment to going my own way.
If its cold in a room and a woman is not there to tell him, will a man still know?
Oh, he'll figure it out eventually...such as when the glass on his beer bottle frosts over...or when all the pets are clustered around him...or when he shifts position just a little bit, and all the warm air that's clustered around him disperses!
More to come! (And if anyone still wants to ask something, go right ahead...I'm even allowing anonymous commenting on a temporary basis.)