A recent poll tied into Constitution Week (which ends Wednesday) has revealed that 59% of American teenagers can name the Three Stooges but only 41% can name the three branches of government. And while nearly 74% know that the vice president is Al Gore, 90% know that the hunk in "Titanic" is Leonardo DiCaprio.
Alarming? Perhaps. Surprising? Perhaps not.
Indeed, "It is no surprise to us that teens know more about pop culture than the Constitution," says Joseph Torsella, president of the National Constitution Center, the nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that conducted the survey. "But it is shocking," he adds, "that the gap is so wide."
Before you readers indulge in too much tsk-tsk-ing, though, we thought you might want to test your own knowledge of U.S. history versus your knowledge of pop culture. (No cribbing allowed, but you'll find the answers on Page E3.)
1. a) Whose motto was "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?"
b) What is the motto on the ribbon in the eagle's mouth on the great seal of the United States?
2. a) What was the first film ever to win an Oscar, in 1927?
b) Who was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence?
3. a) Name the five original Rolling Stones.
b) Name, in order, the five officeholders who succeed a president who dies or is removed from office.
4. a) How many kids were in "The Brady Bunch"?
b) How many white stripes and how many red stripes are on the American flag?
5. a) Who shot J.R.?
b) Who shot Ronald Reagan?
6. a) Name the Jackson Five.
b) Name the original 13 colonies.
7. a) Who wrote the musical "Follies"?
b) What was "Seward's Folly"?
8. a) Who said, "Don't have a cow"?
b) Who said, "I would rather be right than be president"?
9. a) Who said, "Where's the beef?"
b) Who wrote the inscription on the Statue of Liberty?
10. a) What year did Elvis die?
b) What year did women gain the vote nationwide?
11. a) In "Casablanca," what was Rick's (Humphrey Bogart character's) last name?
b) Who was the first woman elected to Congress? (Hint: Her first name was Jeannette.)
12. a) What was the name of "Citizen Kane's" newspaper?
b) Which newspaper ran the infamous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman"?
13. a) In Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast of 1938, where did the Martians land?
b) Name the Revolutionary War battle site where the cry was "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!"
14. a) What was the name of the bestselling novel with the opening line: "What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?"
b) Name the president whose inaugural address included the line "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."
15. a) What kind of car was James Dean driving when he had his fatal crash?
b) The stock market crash and the Great Depression happened on whose watch?
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. . . to the quiz on Page E2:
1. a) Muhammad Ali. b) E Pluribus Unum ("Out of many, one").
2. a) "Wings." b) John Hancock.
3. a) Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones. b) The vice president, speaker of the house, president pro tempore of the senate, secretary of state, secretary of the treasury.
4. a) Six. b) Seven red, six white.
5. a) His sister-in-law, Kristin. b) John W. Hinckley Jr.
6. a) Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Jermaine and Michael. b) Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.
7. a) Stephen Sondheim. b) The purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million in 1866 by Secretary of State William H. Seward.
8. a) Bart Simpson. b) Henry Clay.
9. a) Clara Peller, in a 1984 Wendy's commercial. b) Emma Lazarus.
10. a) 1977. b) 1920.
11. a) Blaine. b) Jeannette Rankin, of Montana.
12. a) The Enquirer. b) The Chicago Tribune.
13. a) Grovers Mill. b) Bunker Hill, Mass.
14. a) "Love Story," by Erich Segal. b) John F. Kennedy.
15. a) A Porsche 550 Spyder. b) Herbert Hoover.