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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
You know what I don't understand? People who desperately attempt to cling on to the things they loved in child-hood, no matter how crap they actually were. Little kids have terrible, terrible taste, and most entertainments for children are solely designed to only keep them entertained enough to sit through commercials or want to tie-in toy. Every once in awhile I'll catch myself watching something I really enjoyed as a kid and every single time I come away thinking: "Wow. I was a really stupid kid."
And yet...there's this entire industry built on supplying the nostalgia fulfillment needs of people in my age demographic. And clearly it must be making money, otherwise, American capitalism being what it is, this nostalgic garbage wouldn't exist. Which leads me to the horrifying conclusion that most people don't realize how truly awful and stupid the things they liked as children were. And what's worse, as adults they somehow have gotten it into their heads that the trash they liked as kids still somehow has merit.
Now, I myself am guilty of perpetuating this wrong thinking in people. For the sake of ghettoization I took all the retro-toy comics that are coming out, mixed with a few revival properties, and made a particular section on our display rack for all those terribly drawn and written Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron comics. And putting them all together ended up increasing sales on those titles. Well, except for Micronauts and Battle of the Planets, because apparently nobody ever really liked those two properties.
We have customers who will only buy nostalgia comics. We have customers who come in every week and demand to know when the next issue of Ghostbusters or Snake Plissken are coming out. We have customers who are really looking forward to a Silverhawks comic. (But only if it's "faithful to the show"...) In short, we have customers who wouldn't recognize a good comic if it bit them on the ass, danced around them and sang "I'm a good comic, I'm a good comic," because they're too busy in some weird infantilizing ritual in which they are reliving their childhood stupidity.
And these things are stupid. I've seen gay porn that's less homoerotic than Masters of the Universe. Transformers is an inherently stupid concept and it isn't even internally consistent. They're all giant robots, but they somehow manage to shrink down to the size of a tape-player or hand-gun? And don't get me started on G.I. Joe which makes no sense whatsoever. So Cobra plans to take over the world because...something that was never really clearly defined. And somehow engaging in pointless, ill-defined conflict after conflict with G.I. Joe will accomplish this goal? It would make more sense if Cobra was actually a division of G.I. Joe, created to convince Congress of the need to increase Joe's funding every year, in order to "fight Cobra."
And lastly, we come to the grand-daddy of all crappy children's entertainments: Star Wars. Now, I'm not going to pick on Star Wars fans, because that would be like shooting fish in a barrell, and frankly the worst insult I can think of for a Star Wars fan is to simply point out to him or her that they are a Star Wars fan. I will say, however, that I find it ever so amusing when I see Star Wars fans getting worked up about the perceived lack of quality in "Episode 1" or "Episode 2." Or getting angry about the possibility of Lucas making "Episodes 7, 8 and 9" because he will "fuck it up." Because, as we all know, the original Star Wars films were the most perfect works of art of all time. Utterly and completely flawless. For centuries to come they will be studied as the pinnacles of film-making, superior in all ways to what came before, destined to never be surpasses by antything that comes after. Oh, wait, no, my mistake. We were talking about the original Star Wars films. They were crap. Deliberate crap. The first one was an over-serious attempt to duplicate a crappy Saturday morning serial. It was Lucas himself wallowing in nostalgia for the cheap children's entertainments of his youth. And then the toys started selling and that was it. Instead of a coherent narrative in the next two films we were treated to scenes and characters that only existed in order to sell poorly-made plastic toys (Boba Fett fans, I'm thinking of you) to children who would whine incessantly to their parents if they didn't get them. For God's sake, Lucas was able to sell kids an empty card-board box and it was a huge success!
So yes, I'm entertained when people complain about how the newer batch of Star Wars films "aren't as good" as the original films. As if Lucas, who waited years to do these movies, financing them all himself, was somehow not doing the best job he's capable of doing. The slightest glimmers of quality in the "5th" and "6th" movies were only there because people other than Lucas worked on them, and even then those movies weren't very good. What are the Star Wars fans expecting? Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane in space? Not going to happen.
I've moved on from my crappy child-hood loves. Why isn't anyone else?