- The canon of Western literature
Assorted African, South American, and Asian Literature
Things taught in AP level history classes
Wars and battles
Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, Buddhist, and Judeo-Christian mythological/religious traditions
Things taught in AP Bio
Things taught in AP chem
Things taught in regular physics
The canon of Western art up through the 1960s
Some philosophy stuff
Trash/pop culture questions are different. There are no clearly delineated standards for what trash questions may be about. They may be "mainstream," focusing on sports, rap, and network television. They may reflect the zeitgeist of the quiz bowl subculture, and ask about Internet memes, video games, and obscure indie bands. They may ask about 80s hair bands. They may ask about Cap'n Crunch or the V-Smile or Casablanca or Matt Weiner's head. They may be, in short, about anything from the last 70 years of the modern media culture.
I submit that this immense scope from which one or two tossups out of twenty are drawn makes asking trash questions in a quiz bowl tournament inherently unfair. Up to 80 points around may be determined exclusively by what the players happen to be interested in outside of an academic context. With academic questions, there are things that people who are interested in a subject are going to care about with high probability. Not so with trash questions. As a category in a distribution, "trash" is a failure. If the tournament director likes rap and football, players who like country and basketball are at a disadvantage, and players like me who enjoy indie pop and hate sports are screwed. There's no way of making a given pop culture question distinguish between teams who work hard at quiz bowl, because getting these questions right is based almost entirely on what you like.
Hence, I propose the summary termination of any and all trash questions in the high school distribution, not from the position that trash is unimportant to know, but that it is impossible to know if what you know is valuable in a way unlike the state of affairs with academic questions.
[These thoughts may be worked out more thoroughly when I am not tired.]