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5 things you (probably) didn't know about pop culture and Vancouver

Like any big city, Vancouver's roll in the world is full of random things that help make up the fabric of pop culture.

Like any big city, Vancouver's role in the world is full of random things that help make up the fabric of pop culture.

Sometimes that pop culture is recognizable to locals, sometimes it's hidden away in inspiration or references only a few know, and sometimes it's not the local dominant pop culture of the area, like how Vancouver is the setting for one of the biggest Punjabi-language films of all time.

So here are five facts that all relate to pop culture, and Vancouver.

1. Blink 182's First Date (and an iconic gif) was shot at Big Splash Water Park in Tsawwassen

One of the most famous reaction gifs in the world was shot at a water park in Metro Vancouver.

If you've reacted "WTF?" using this gif, you're using a piece of Vancouver's pop culture history.

Shot in 2001, Blink 182 was one of the most popular bands in the world at the time and based in California, so it might be easy to assume they shot it at home, but nope, that's Big Splash Water Park and Tsawassen.

2. One of Italy's most famous comic book characters visits the 1800s

Tex Willer is one of the most popular comic book characters in the Italian language, having been created in 1948. It still gets published regularly.

Set in the US during the 1800s, Willer is a Texan with a penchant for adventure, and while most of his time is spent down in Texas or the neighbouring states, in 2022 he headed north of the border, to Vancouver. Over several issues he spends time in the city, even sticking around for the Great Vancouver Fire, it appears.

The cover of one issue (just called 'Vancouver') shows an artists rendering of the city that doesn't appear to be wholly accurate (what cliff are the cowboys standing on?).

3. The Chillhop Radio raccoon is based on a Vancouver critter

For many, using chill, relaxed music is a great way to study and work.

Chillhop Radio realized this and has created a huge, global brand out of streaming lofi hip hop, instrumental beats and downtempo tracks.

Their brand ambassador, a cute raccoon sporting a yellow hoodie and (often) headphones, is quite recognizable, and artists around the world have created static and animated pieces of it in record stores, at home, camping, or just walking along the street.

That critter is based on a Vancouver raccoon. 

The founder of the Chillhop brand was looking for a mascot to represent the brand when on a trip to Vancouver he spotted a raccoon out the window (yes, there's a photo of it). It just gave him the right vibe, and they went with it.

4. Neuromancer was partially inspired by Vancouver

Lots of things inspire a novel, and for the iconic cyberpunk book Neuromancer, Vancouver was one of those pieces.

Author William Gibson had been living in Vancouver for a while and made a name for himself with short stories when he was tasked with writing a novel. In one year he wrote Neuromancer, which went on to influence countless pieces of science fiction

It's considered one of the founding pieces of work in cyberpunk (along with Blade Runner), helping move it from the clean-cut worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek to the gritty, grimey sci-fi in things like The MatrixReady Player One, and Inception. Some of that grit and grime comes from the streets of Vancouver. 

5. 'Wait for me, Daddy' was shot in New Westminster

One of the most iconic shots of World War 2, for Canadians at least, was shot on Eighth Street in New Westminster.

In 1940 the British Columbia Regiment was preparing to leave Canada's west coast for the other side of the world as war raged in Europe. As the soldiers marched to a ship that would take them to a secret destination, five-year-old Warren Bernard raced away from his mother to reach out to his father, Jack, who reaches back.

Photographer Claude P. Dettloff caught the moment, and the photo went on to become a rallying image during the years the war was fought. In Canada it was used to sell war bonds; Life magazine picked up the image as well, and it was seen worldwide.

While it's faded somewhat from memory in the intervening 80+ years, New Westminster created a permanent bronze monument of it in 2014.

Bonus: Superbad is (sort of) set in Vancouver

It's technically not set in Vancouver, but actually in Nevada. However, there are a few references to Vancouver, like Granville Street popping up a couple of times, including a bus route. 

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