My next door neighbors love weed and How I Met Your Mother, and more so the two in combination. I'm often over at theirs watching Neil Patrick Harris be awesome and Ted be, well a pussy. Then they started referencing the real world, moreover in real time e.g. Marshall referencing that Stella hasn't had sex since The Da Vinci code came out as a book. This put actually contemporary media in an elevated place.
With the glut of sites for watching TV and movies online and the increasing connectivity in society, the televisual media has followed suite and done so with gusto. Due to a terminal combination of not owning a television and not giving a shit, I catch the hot new shows with consistent irregularity, save a few (Family Guy, Primeval, Misfits, The Office, etc.)
But even among the dearth of shows and movies that I watch, I've noticed a significant trend of them recognizing one another as media.
On Family Guy, Peter questions when/why Ted from How I Met Your Mother eventually pokevolves into Bob Saget, the show's narrator (with good reason). On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall compares he and Barney's lives to the characters of Mad Men.
I'm wholly unsure what my reaction should be. Are shows admitting to their ephemeral statuses? How can they be so unafraid of isolating their audience to only those who watch other shows?
I blame the Simpsons and Seinfeld's constant and carefree references to both then-current events and pop-culture throughout their runs. Seinfeld is still hilarious, but when I watch re-runs, like the episode where Jerry's exceptionally Jewish mother complains about his disrespect for Schindler's List I notice that my fellow viewers who are younger are missing out on the funny. As this becomes more common, the concept of timeless comedy is being tossed aside in favor of jokes for the nonce that can become irrelevant and opaque a few seasons after its debut.
My real worry is when this sort thing becomes more widespread in movies. In Zack and Miri Make a Porno the cameraman discusses J. J. Abrams' Lost, the epitome of television drama blueballs, mocking its commonly known sporadic pacing, dense storyline, and lack of answers (again, with good reason). The operative words are 'commonly known'. At the time of the its release in 2008 ,with Lost having been off the air for 2 years now, a rewatch makes the joke grow more and more stale, especially if someone never watched Lost to begin with.
Will the future result be DVDs (no those too will be irrelevant) with optional asterisk to appear whenever a joke becomes too esoteric?
It seems that the only branch that is immune to the compulsive need to reference something else is Science Fiction. Possibly due to science fiction writers' need to create new universes.
While running from giant sea snakes/rock monsters/bats/robots/monster of the week and fighting the evil corporation is a timeless and accessible story, the writing is rarely good enough that it doesn't also get pushed into some terrible dead of uninterested viewers.