People are concerned about pop culture aging badly. It's a natural response from a creative standpoint because as artists we all want our work to endure. It's human nature to want our work to endure - so it's human nature to be concerned with how badly pop culture is going to age.

Unfortunately, perfectly predicting a work's perseverance would involve clairvoyance. So what's the alternative? Just not worry about it.

It's impossible for a creative work to avoid being dated, eventually, without having that creative work be completely divorced from the culture that produced it. Unfortunately, it's impossible to have a creative work without outside influence from said culture. Even the timeless classics - Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, any of William Shakespeare's, Charles Dickens' or Mark Twain's works - are dated in some form. Trust me, I've read the complete (as far as we've recovered) text of Gilgamesh and it's almost incomprehensible without a ton of footnotes. The Odyssey is full of religious and cultural references that are obsolete in modern society - and in fact we can identify with and enjoy The Odyssey in very large part because the epic itself has worked itself into modern cultural mythology. Likewise, Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain haven't endured because somehow they've become timeless and isolated from storytelling forces, but because they had been so wildly popular in their own times they've essentially permanently embedded themselves into the popular culture.

Someone in the comments section mentioned Community and whether or not we'll reach a point where we'll be making references to references. In essence, we've already been doing that for centuries. When we're making allusions to The Odyssey, we're making references to references about the pop culture of an ancient civilization that has since moved on (conquered by Romans, conquered by Turks, a monarchy restoration, a number of revolutions and military coups here and there....) People frequently make references to Romeo and Juliet, even in novels and TV shows, with the distinct possibility that the creators themselves have never read or seen the plays, or at the very least with the expectation that the viewer or reader has never actually read or seen the play but is still familiar with the characters and plot.

It's possible that a creative work will become so overloaded with references that it simply becomes difficult to translate without familiarity with those references (much like the aliens from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok" whose language was in fact entirely built around the concept of cultural references - hey, see what I did there?) But a truly good story will not rise or fall based solely on the strength of those references, but on the actual strength of the storytelling. Eventually, some of the hottest fiction right now will inevitably seem dated - but hopefully future readers will recognize the strength of the storytelling to be able to get past that. Many works that indeed have dated references and are very much a product of their times nonetheless are still wildly popular, and in some cases even experience a resurgence as clever marketers are able to draw connections and parallels to what's currently popular.


Or you can take a somewhat unconventional route and make it already dated - or at least intentionally frozen in a specific time period not too far away removed from contemporary audiences. One of last year's most popular books does exactly that. You can use it to your advantage and build your story around a wave of nostalgia, or simply use it to frame a good story around. Either way, all storytellers (except for the laziest ones) actively try to avoid becoming quickly dated - but in many cases it may be inevitable, despite the care of whoever's telling the story.


But in the meantime, there's not a whole lot you can do about it.