View Single Post
Old February 27 2012, 01:39 AM   #17
Location: Gig Harbor, Washington
Re: What franchise has had the closest cultural impact since Star Wars

The entertainment landscape is too cluttered today. Star Wars was alone at the top of the heap back in the day, if you grew up during those years and had any interest in that sort of entertainment you were a fan, and part of a generation that can use Star Wars as sort of a cultural touchstone.

Nowadays you have LotR, Harry Potter, Twilight, various other franchises. All of them have decent sized fan-bases but the end result is each getting just a slice of the pie, whereas Star Wars had the whole pie. Fandom is divided.

Patton Oswalt wrote a fantastic essay a year or two back that touches on this subject. The first couple paragraphs...

I’m not a nerd. I used to be one, back 30 years ago when nerd meant something. I entered the ’80s immersed, variously, in science fiction, Dungeons & Dragons, and Stephen King. Except for the multiple-player aspect of D&D, these pursuits were not “passions from a common spring,” to quote Poe.

I can’t say that I ever abided nerd stereotypes: I was never alone or felt outcast. I had a circle of friends who were similarly drawn to the exotica of pop culture (or, at least, what was considered pop culture at the time in northern Virginia)—Monty Python, post-punk music, comic books, slasher films, and videogames. We were a sizable clique. The terms nerd and geek were convenient shorthand used by other cliques to categorize us. But they were thin descriptors.

In Japan, the word otaku refers to people who have obsessive, minute interests—especially stuff like anime or videogames. It comes from a term for “someone else’s house”—otaku live in their own, enclosed worlds. Or, at least, their lives follow patterns that are well outside the norm. Looking back, we were American otakus. (Of course, now all America is otaku—which I’m going to get into shortly. But in order to do so, we’re going to hang out in the ’80s.)

I was too young to drive or hold a job. I was never going to play sports, and girls were an uncrackable code. So, yeah—I had time to collect every Star Wars action figure, learn the Three Laws of Robotics, memorize Roy Batty’s speech from the end of Blade Runner, and classify each monster’s abilities and weaknesses in TSR Hobbies’ Monster Manual. By 1987, my friends and I were waist-deep in the hot honey of adolescence. Money and cars and, hopefully, girls would follow, but not if we spent our free time learning the names of the bounty hunters’ ships in The Empire Strikes Back. So we each built our own otakuesque thought-palace, which we crammed with facts and nonsense—only now, the thought-palace was nicely appointed, decorated neatly, the information laid out on deep mahogany shelves or framed in gilt. What once set us apart, we hoped, would become a lovable quirk.

The full essay is a good read.
Caliburn24 is offline   Reply With Quote