Pop culture is good for marking the passage of time. At some point, every teenager must accept that he or she is now older than Ferris Bueller or Katniss Everdeen. As of a week ago, every one of the Back To The Future movies takes place in our past. And if you were hanging around in Peanuts with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy, we have bad news for you–you’d sound like their teachers.
In Peanuts, that means something specific: Adults, in the world created by Charles Schultz, don’t talk so much as they go “wah wah wah wah wah,” which–when you’re a child as precocious as the ones in Peanuts–is often how grown-ups sound to kids. And when the Peanuts gang has been animated, as they’ll be in next month’s The Peanuts Movie, that means that the adults’ dialogue is all performed on a trombone. (In the movie, naturally, they hired New Orleans musician Trombone Shorty for the part.)
To capture the reality that so much of what you and the other people your age actually sounds like is gibberish to the next generation–and to continue its fairly innovative online campaign—The Peanuts Movie launched the Wah Wah Machine, where users can type a Twitter-length phrase, and hear it played back the way it sounds when it comes out of Charlie Brown’s parents’ mouths. Whether you’re going for “When I hear that hotline bling” or “Make America great again,” the nonsense that’s out there in the real world sounds no less ridiculous translated into Peanuts-ese.