Jumping the shark
I think I’m experiencing a jump-the-shark moment right now. Oddly enough, it’s about jumping the shark.
I used the phrase “jump the shark” the other day here in the newspaper office and was met with blank stares from a couple of my colleagues. I won’t say who to avoid further embarrassment.
At this point I am certain some of you have no idea what I mean by “jumping the shark,” so let me lay a little history on you.
Let’s go back to Sept. 20, 1977, and an episode of the classic TV sitcom “Happy Days.” In the final chapter of a three-part storyline, Fonzie, Richie and the gang are in Hollywood to audition for a movie. Seems a talent scout met Fonzie when his limo broke down in Milwaukee and saw him as the next James Dean.
Meanwhile, a beach bully called the California Kid challenged Fonzie to water ski and jump over a shark cage with a tiger shark inside. Fonzie of course takes the dare, and while wearing his signature black leather jacket and a white floatation device on his waist, does indeed jump the shark.
After the shark jump, “Happy Days” was seen by fans and critics as in a state of decline, not as funny as before, even though the show ran another six years.
Since then the phrase “jump the shark” has taken on a life of its own, usually applied to TV shows, other media and even other walks of life where something happens to something popular, making that something not as good or likable as it once was.
Now that we’re all on the same page, you may be asking, “So what is your jump-the-shark moment, Buus?”
Well, it’s the realization that people I know are not familiar with jumping the shark — again, even though the phrase has been around for over 40 years. Suddenly I feel much older than my actual age of 53, and somewhat concerned my frame of reference when it comes to pop culture will surely coincide less and less with that of my contemporaries and those younger than me.
Does this mean the rest of my life is doomed to go downhill? Probably, but I hope it’s not for the reason discussed here.
Buus, a Cedar County Republican reporter, remembers when water skier Wayne Grimditch won the “Superstars” competition, and realizes most people younger than him don’t know about that show either.