Go Back in Time With Nearly Every Single Cultural Reference From The Office

Slate's Culture Blog
March 25 2014 5:31 PM

Go Back in Time With Nearly Every Single Cultural Reference From The Office

the_office_time_machine_1
Someone collected nearly ever cultural reference fromThe Office.

Photo by NBC © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC/IMDb

Today “that’s what she said,” may be best known as the signature catchphrase of Michael Scott, but the phrase and its various iterations were around long before it was first used to point out a double entendre on The Office.

Which goes to show just how easily a simple joke, song, image, or other cultural nugget can spread through pop culture—a phenomenon that Joe Sabia is determined to make with The Office Time Machine. Sabia, along with programmer Aaron Rasmussen, has created an interactive allowing you to navigate and watch just about every pop culture reference ever made in the series, organized by the year in which that movie or song or other cultural property was released.

Advertisement

Type in 1994, for instance, and you’ll get a short YouTube supercut filled with all the mentions of (to name just a few) Forrest Gump and the George Foreman grill. Enter a year from about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, and you’ll hear the employees of Dunder Mifflin expound upon quotations from Alexander the Great and Sun Tzu. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the project was very time-consuming—especially when it came to determining a precise year for something as ambiguous as the origin of the jazz funeral.

All of this painstaking work was done in the name of bringing awareness to copyright reform and fair use, Sabia says. “To prove culture is not only everywhere,” he writes, “but that certain references to films, songs, and works of art are critical for our collective understanding of comedy and to the importance of relating to content.”

And in the spirit of freely sharing creative work, Sabia encourages anyone to correct his potential oversights and help him pinpoint the few references from the show he wasn’t able to decipher:

Whether that’s a cause you want to support or not, it’s worth taking the time machine out for a spin.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.