|Posted on August 14, 2013 at 10:40 PM|
A List of My Fandom
It's hard to define "fandom" these days. Usually it's a term used to geeky/nerdy fandom-type stuff, like superheroes or science fiction. That's how I've always interpreted, but you can't deny that things like Breaking Bad or Stanley Kubrick have a hell of a fanatical following as well.
But if I were to be that inclusive when trying to decide what my personal fandom is, this would be a list stretching to over a hundred things. Sometimes, you just need to be more exclusive and narrow in defining things.
If this was a list of things I'm simply a fan of, I'd put in Kurosawa or film noir or "horror movies" or the Beatles on here if that were. So I have to cross-reference instead: what am I huge fan of with what I would see as things that are known for their fandom, things that have a "fanbase."
I hope this works out, and maybe you can share with my enjoyment of these things if you haven't alraedy by reading where I first began with the Liquid Nostalgia series.
An obvious one. Star Wars is probably the most well-known case for "fanaticism" worldwide. I would venture to say it may not be quite as big as it once was. Well, I suppose "lost its luster" a bit is a more fitting phrase.
But that original trilogy, you can't deny those no matter how much George Lucas himself might be trying to make you. Nobody can. Most people could take or leave the prequels, but those original films aren't lesser because of them. Then, for me, you have the "expanded universe" of stuff. Growing up, I played so many videogames, read so many comics and graphic novels and (a handful) of the more well-known books. Those were about all I had, and maybe a handful of action figure though they really didn't start getting those back in production until i was well in high school.
It all hinges on The Empire Strikes Back, though. I bought the THX VHS movies when they came out in 1995, I was about 15 at the time. I had seen the Star Wars movies on television before, but this was about the time when I started to really get in to movies and finally saw them without commercials and in letterbox format. I finally saw the "vision" of it all, and it just went nuts from there. The games, I still have all my old Super Nintendo Star Wars titles, the comics as well and, of course, the movies though it's becoming harder and harder to keep track of those. All us fans want is the option, Lucasfilm/Disney. You can do that, you know.
Favorite Star Wars Things: The Empire Strikes Back - all of it, especially that saber battle. Obi-Wan, Knights of the Old Republic, Lightsabers, Boba Fett, Yoda, Vader, Alec Guiness, practical effects,
The movies were my first introduction to Star Trek. They were on television quite a bit, especially The Voyage Home probably because it's the most broad and accessible out of all of them. The Next Generation is what really made me a fan, well at least of Next Generation. I skipped Deep Space 9 and went in to Voyager, which kind of turned me off of Trek for a while making the Next Generation movies the only thing I liked, plus by the late 90s Next Gen was already in syndication, so I would rewatch episodes over and over again.
Then I went on a Star Trek marathon about two or three years ago. I had only seen the oriignal series in passing over the years, kind of like Deep Space 9 or the original films. When I say "marathon" I mean watching every single episode of every single Star Trek show, including the animated series, from beginning end.
I'm still planning a big Trek blog/article at some point, so I'll just keep it all basic here: pretty much liked or loved everything except Voyager. I didn't "hate" Voyager, it still had some gems of episodes at times, but it was easily the most inconsistent and derivative. Next Generation was still my favorite, thanks to sharp writing (especially after the mediocre first season and most of the second), and my favorite characters. Deep Space 9 was the hardest to get in to because the first three seasons you could practically throw out the window. Once it hit it, it REALLY hit it. The animated series was the most fun, probably because it's just straight-up adventure. And Enterprise, like DS9, took a bit to get in to, but once they started their over-arching storyline, i damn good.
Then, of course, you have the original series. I would say 80 percent of it holds up really well (not talking sets/costumes here, but plot and story), but what helps you get through 100 percent of it are the the characters. The plot and story can feel a product of their time sometimes, but most transcend that with solid storytelling and a strong central "theme" to each one ala The Twilight Zone, another show that also uses straightforward stories with strong central themes...which is probably why I love both.
Favorite Trek things: Good/fun fans (fickle fans that complain all the time suck). Next Generation (specifically Picard and Data). Spock. Bones and Kirk's friendship. DS9 after Season 3. Holodecks. The ambition of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th movies to weave together what is essentially a six-hour mini series, Wrath of Kahn's script.
Growing up in the 1980s and in to the 90s, there were always a certain "group" of movies that seemed to always be on television. Gremlins. Back to the Future. Tremors. All those James Bond marathons. But once in a while they'd pluck out an Indiana Jones movie. Usually it was The Last Crusade, because The Last Crusade didn't have any heart-extractions or face-meltings, and it was also the lightest and most "fun" of the films. I had to have seen Last Crusade a dozen times at least, edited and not commercial free.
At some point, I saw the others. Probably on TV but really not until I got my own VCR in my bedroom and started to buy movies did I see them in full. I bought the entire VHS trilogy and, like the Star Wars movies, watched them extensively. On occasion, I still do. I just bought the Blu-Rays and felt like a kid again as I marathoned them. They never get old. Outside of the movies, I also enjoyed the comic books with one of the first things I owned that was Indiana Jones related being a comic adaptation of Raiders. Spear of Destiny was the biggie, though, and that absolutely should have been a fourth movie. Another non-movie adventure was the PC game Fate of Atlantis, every bit as fun, witty and as the films. The expansion wasn't as broad as, say, Star Wars in terms of universe, but it still was an expansion and going beyond just the movies and other adventures were still out there and still pretty good.
Though I could take or leave the Young Indiana Jones Adventures.
Oh, and as for the fourth movie, it's about as good/bad as The Temple of Doom, which was the "bad" one before Crystal came out I guess. But honestly, it's still fun. It still has the right tone and sense of adventure. It has problems, but all of them have problems. Well, except Raiders of the Lost Ark. That one is about as perfect as you can get of a movie.
Favorite Indy Things: Indiana. If he's in a scene, and he's in about every one, it's gold. Also Connery. The "swordfight" gag in Raiders, then the callback of that same gag in Temple of Doom. The opening of Raiders. The Tank-battle in The Last Crusade. And sue me...Nuke the Fridge was awesome and pretty much in line with the craziness that Indy always finds himself in (I had far more issues with tree swinging and forgettable supporting characters). Sorry...also Spear of Destiny
It seemed you couldn't get away from a James Bond marathon on cable during the 90s. TNT or TBS or whatever that old Chicago station that had national exposure for some reason...but they were always on the air it seemed. As I mentioned above, cable networks bought the hell out of some movies and just played them non-stop. James Bond was the big one, because once you get one, you have to get them all, and once you watch one, you have to watch them all. They're the Lays potato chips of film franchises.
Yet, I really didn't sit down and watch them all from beginning to end until I was in college. I was working at a rental/book/music store thing and got a ton of discounts and it happened that these nifty things called DVDs were pretty firmly established, and along with those nifty DVDs was the release of the James Bond collection. It's simple: start from Dr. No and work your way up, and I spent an entire summer doing nothing but doing just that.
I always get a little excited over the next Bond, one of few things I get excited for anymore. Where will he go? What will he say and do and fight? Who will he sleep with? Skyfall last year skyrocketed to my third or maybe forth favorite James Bond movie, up there with the best of them easily. Why? Because, and this is one of the reason I love the Bond movies, it's still all old-school. There's not a lot of computer effects in the Bond movies, it's just awesome practical stunt work with people doing some amazing things. The only one that went crazy with the computer effects was Die Another Day, and obviously that's why a lot of people didn't like it. That and it was a bad story and as awesome as Brosnan was, nobody else stepped up in that one.
That's another thing: I liked all the actors that played Bond, some of them just had better material than others. Right now Craig is crushing it and really came in to this own in the last film, I'm happy we get two more with him.
Favorite Bond Things: Goldfinger, From Russia With Love are still the two most solid flicks made. Connery's movies and his performance, Brosnan's performance (wish he had better films). Skyfall.
I'm one of those newcomers. You know: the big surge that started a few years ago where, suddenly, Doctor Who in America was a "thing." Ask any longtime fan and they never would have imagined that happening. They would probably also tell you "told you."
Doctor Who is fun. Plain and simple, it's a lot of fun. It's not the best written or acted material or something that will move you, but it's, without question, the most enthusiastic and unpredictable thing on television today. More importantly is that it's inventive and creative, which ties in to the unpredictability I guess. What other show is going to have a city on the back of a Star Whale or have something as simple as a pocket watch be an entire consciousness? Not a lot. Not even Star Trek, and that's kind of how people view Doctor Who, I think. Star Trek was huge in the US in the 60s and Doctor Who came up in the UK. It just took much longer to hop the pond...or Pond...I'm trying to cram in a Who joke here.
I've marathoned the "reboot" twice, now heading in to its final episodes with Matt Smith as I write this. At some point, I want to watch the older stuff, particularly Tom Baker who everbody loves and as do I from the few that I've seen, though everybody has a reason to like/dislike any Doctor I suppose. One day. When I have time.
Favorite Doctor Things: David Tennent. Still my favorite Doctor. Love Smith too, who has benefited from really good storylines and "mysteries." The Master. The Ponds. Blink.
Batman is an interesting story. You see, I never read the comics as a kid. I read more Green Lantern and Superman comics than anything, I suppose I liked the fantasy aspect of those (and those which I barely remember). Not until much later when I was in college when I felt more "grounded" did I actually pick up a Batman comic and read it from cover to cover. (and especially anything written by Jeff Loeb). My fandom of Batman began outside of comic books and much earlier when I would watch the classic 60s television show in syndication, every day after school along with Scooby-Doo and Looney Toons reruns. The 60s show was a great introduction for me, I was only about eight or nine at the time, and that's the perfect style and humor and lightness to just have a good time for kids - or adults even as the show holds up pretty well if you just understand it's meant to be comedic.
Around that same time, a ltitle later, the Tim Burton Batman movie came out, and it was all history. Batman was everywhere and I don't know a lot of people from my generation that didn't become a Batman fan at that moment even if they never even heard of Batman before. A few later years after that, I started to really, really get in to Batman with the Timm/Dini animated series, which is a great way for anyone to really cut their teeth on Batman for the first time and was probably the biggest influence in both my appreciation for the dark knight and my understanding and education of him as it stayed pretty true to what the comics had established. The movies spiraled downward, and were all but forgotten until I started reading the comics. Hush and The Long Halloween were the first couple, then a few things like Black and White and major arcs. Then the likes of Year One, Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. Then the Nolan films started to come out and I had my Batman fandom rekindled. It's still there, though I've been slowly veering back towards The Green Lantern as of late as my favorite superhero, only because the badness of the movie made me realize how awesome the comic was from my childhood.
If you never read my Batman Animated Series three part retrospective, or the movie reviews, or my look back at 1989 Batman...well they're on this site somewhere.
Favorite Batman Things: The Animated Series. Batman 1989. The Dark Knight. The Long Halloween comic. The Dark Knight Returns. Batman: Hush. Batman NES game. The sense of "fun" the 60s show had. Mark Hamill's Joker voice.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
After two big articles covering this already (again, check out the Liquid Nostalgia section) I can't profess my fondness to this show any more than I already have. I still watch episodes weekly. Sometimes nightly if nothing else is on. I already did two articles on this puppy, and my love of it really hasn't changed. It's smart, fun, very well written with the riffs ageless. I still am trying to find a cool MST3k T-shirt which is surprisingly harder than you might think it to be.
But really, it's just a great show. It's timeless too. Outside of some occasional 90s pop references, it hasn't aged a day. What's more is, after Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax, the two post-MST3k Riff shows by the creators and writers, I realized it really is MST3k I like. Those shows are fine and enjoyable, very funny, but the way MST3k works just clicks so much better. It's probably because of the characters and small bits and on-screen chemistry they all have.
I don't know if it'll get old to me. It's 13 years or so past it and I still watch it - really re-discovering it a few years ago when DVDs started to become easier to find (and the internet making it easier to watch online too). It was a show that is both a cult hit, yet not a cult hit because it was on the air for a decade.
Favorite MST3k things: There's not one specific thing. It's just the overall idea, weirdness and cleverness of it all that draws me in.
Well here's a big one. The one thing out of this list that I can say, without question, was the very first thing I was a "fan" of is this, and it still carries to this day. Growing up in the 1980s, you have a lot of options. Sure there were GI Joes and Transformers and He-Man and, a bit later, Ninja Turtles. But
I have a lot of specific memories rolling around Ghostbusters. I remember being five or six and opening TV Guide and seeing the black and white ad for it airing on Channel 4 (one of three whopping channels back then), I remember reading the comics in the 5th grade and hiding them in my desk, I remember the disappointment of playing the NES game (and another version on a computer at someone's house. I remember that, I don't remember who the person was though), I remember wearing specific T-shirts on specific days, I remember getting certain toys on Birthdays and Christmas, I remember taking Ghostbusters glow in the dark play-dough and lining my Ghostbusters toy Ghosttrap so when you pushed the button at night it glowed when it opened. I have a zillion memories like this. I remember the "thing" but I can't always remember the context - such as "Why did I think putting that stuff in the ghost trap would work considering play-dough dries out after about 20 minutes?"
I didn't care. That's kind of what fandom is all about, I guess: you love it and don't care what others think. I used to have an encyclopedia knowledge of it all too, though it's grown a bit faint these days: stuff like "I know why they added 'Real' to the cartoon" and "Did you know John Candy was supposed to play the role of Louis because Reitman and Ramis loved working with him in Stripes" and so on. This was when I was eleven or twelve, thanks to the various Ghostbusters books I had.
Favorite 'Bustin Things: The movies (obviously), The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, action figures, that recent Ghostbusters videogame, Venkman, non-cartoon Slimer, Stay-Puft, all the characters really.
Retro Nintendo (Specifically Zelda)
This might be cheating, actually, because it's really retro gaming in general. I love classic videogames because a) they're fun and b) they're all a trip back in time for those that played them. Name a game and I can tell you when and where I (likely) first played it. But really, it comes down to Nintendo itself. It's easy to forget how absolutely dominant they were from the 1980s to the mid 1990s.
I just get a kick out of it all, but entirely because of Nostalgia. I can list a hundred things I've been a fan of in the past that I'm not as in to now, and the same goes for Nintendo. But the past I've had with Nintendo and tracing it all with my life (i.e. Nostalgia) is where my fandom resides. My first consoles, my first games, even that horrible Mario Bros movie I'm a fan of because all those take my back to an awesome time. I may not play the games as much as I used to, but I love going and seeing stuff at a convention. When I was at E3 last, I saw people wearing Luigi Hats. I wanted one, but you had to jump through hoops to get it which I wasn't willing to do.
Hmmm....maybe my fandom isn't THAT great afterall, but the fact I really, really wanted
Favorite Nintendo Things: Those awesome McDonald happy meal toys, Zelda...anything Zelda, Luigi > Mario, Super Mario 2 and 3, Super Metroid, the SNES controller, Mode-7, that moment you first turn on Mario 64.
It's a bittersweet feeling that I was able to enjoy the 1990s era of Squaresoft videogaming. Doing this made it all the more apparent that something that was a major, major part of my life has de-evolved into an unrecognizable catastrophe. The days of just telling a good story with memorable characters took the bitter "we gotta be more action-packed and anime like" pill and forcing it down our throats.
Well, that's not fully fair. There's a longer story there, and anime has always been an influence on the Final Fantasy franchise, but for all sakes and purposes, I loved all the Final Fantasy games from the first to probably Final Fantasy XII (some more than others, certainly) just soley based on their creative uniqueness. It's a combination of art, writing, music and world building that few other franchise could match back then, and some still struggle to even now. My first was the first, actually, but I didnt' start really getting in to it until Final Fantasy II on the SUper Nintendo, now properly named Final Fantasy IV seeing as how we missed out on a couple from Japan in the interim.
There was nothing else like them during their times. I wasn't a PC gamer so console was all I had and the "fantasy story-driven" game was pretty much Final Fantasy and nothing else. Many specific memories are still vivid to me: the opening credits to Final Fantasy III, the first time you leave Midgar in Final Fantasy VII, the opera scene in FFIII, The Black Mage village in Final Fantasy IX and so on...it's all thanks to the games creating a story and characters that surround you as you play. It gets you invested and makes you become attached. I still have a huge fondness for them, I'm still a huge fan, but the "old" Final Fantasy. This new stuff is full of things I no longer recognize. I suppose it ties a bit in to the Retro Nintendo portion.
Favorite Final Fantasy Things: Final Fantasy III/VI, Midgar, Cecil and Kain, Locke Cole, the art design of Final Fantasy IX, the dialogue of Final Fantasy XII, the inventiveness and ambition of Final Fantasy VII.
Still a fan, but not as much as I was. It was a time and a place...
Highlander the Series - This and the X-Files defined my TV watching in the 1990s. It's been dormant for so long, I still have all the DVD sets, but it's not like it was when I would tape it off of the Sci-fi channel.
Ninja Turtles - Just missed the list, because the 2013 reboot on Nickelodeon has certainly rekindled my enjoyment of this franchise. It just had some drop-offs in the 90s and early 2000s that worked against it.
The X-Files - See above, I also read a ton of the comics. I just don't have a desire to seek out things beyond those, though. It was one of the first fan things I really got in to but that's where it kind of stayed.
The Muppets - Grew up with them and love them. I had a lot of muppet figures growing up.
Sherlock Holmes - The books, all those Rathbone serials, the movies, the TV shows...I like me some deduction and wit and anything Holmes has that in spades.
The Big Lebowski - I've bought the movie three times, I have a Dude action figure, complete with white Russian. That's certainly more of a recent affection.
I think I should do a video or something of my horror movie collection. It's not qualified here, at least in the strict limits I'm putting myself, but I have a nice collection I'd love to share.