Nostalgia and the Fanboy

I am a child of the 80’s. I can’t help it. From Cabbage Patch Dolls to Michael Jackson and parachute pants (thankfully I never owned those), from Bon Jovi and hair metal to Smurfs, it all resonates with me. Some is more dissonance, but I digress.

The marketers are smart. I have been amazed how so much from my childhood has been recycled now that *I* have kids. First it was the resurgence of Star Wars: Revenge of the Merchandising (I sound like the all-powerful Yogurt. Fear the Schwartz!!!). Now other childhood favorites are being brought back, first Transformers and soon G.I. Joe.

It has worked in many respects. I kept all my Joes and a few Star Wars items, and since I have 3 boys, it has been very easy to continue in that vein (my poor baby girl is already getting cast as Princess Leia). The boys think Star Wars is The Clone Wars, but I blame George Lucas for that. Overall, we have a very boyish household, with hordes of Clone Troopers and a veritable platoon of Joes.

Toys are one thing. The big screen debuts of these childhood icons is quite another. I know there has been plenty of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by rabid fanboys who were afraid their childhood would be ruined if Transformers or G.I. Joe is mishandled on celluloid.

I don’t think I’m rabid (checks mirror, no foam, good sign…). I would love to see an epic production of these worlds. But I also look at things now from a Biblical worldview, and from someone who watches pop culture. I’m grown up (somewhat), so I do view these things differently.

I was massively disappointed in Transformers 1. The movie is marketed to kids, but it has some highly inappropriate content for the under 12 set, and the movie supposedly wasn’t for its “target” audience, as it had a PG-13 label. Even on a technical, quality level it is a let down. The special effects are cool when visible, but so much of the action is rolling together, you can’t tell which giant robot to root for.
After reading reviews for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, I didn’t even bother seeing it. My understanding is that the director took the sexualization and inappropriate content to an even higher level, and that there is little plot. Now, you won’t get Shakespeare with a yellow Camaro that turns into a robot, but it sounds like there wasn’t much to recommend it. Again, it is so marketed to kids that I get really frustrated when the producers make it so unfriendly for kids. Of course, it is the blockbuster of the summer and I know kids who have seen it, so I am likely in the minority. As usual.

This makes me dread G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra coming out in August. There’s been bad vibes for the movie all along, and in watching the trailers some aspects make me cring (accelerator suit – I’m lookin’ at you). My concern is more in items that often go unnoticed – what’s the prevailing worldview, what type of humor do they go for, language. As far as language and humor, I would be quite upset if they played like Transformers did, with a lot of coarse talk and jokes, since G.I. Joe is also being marketed to kids under 13 (so far there’s no rating for it). I’ve heard that it wasn’t made like that, but we’ll see in a few weeks.

The worldview has already been challenged too. G.I. Joe is quintessentially American, but even though it was fairly multicultural even in the 80’s, it didn’t seem to stand the test of pluralism in the 21 century. Initially it was said that G.I. Joe was centered in Brussels, Belgium, which had the fanboys up in arms (apparantly this is gone). Some characters have been changed to different races. But how will the patriotic, positive vibe from G.I. Joe hold up in these times of America being less popular internationally, and our cynical post-modern viewpoints? How much do values of courage, honor, and self-sacrifice hold up? These are just some of the questions I will be asking when watching the movie.

I realize it is summer popcorn entertainment. A movie based off of 80’s war toys isn’t the best vehicle for philosophising, but worldview is everywhere. So maybe I rant a little here (maybe???), but I will not shut off my brain just because Snake Eyes is finally on the big screen (though he does look awesome!).

Yo Joe!

Nostalgia and the Fanboy

I am a child of the 80’s. I can’t help it. From Cabbage Patch Dolls to Michael Jackson and parachute pants (thankfully I never owned those), from Bon Jovi and hair metal to Smurfs, it all resonates with me. Some is more dissonance, but I digress.

The marketers are smart. I have been amazed how so much from my childhood has been recycled now that *I* have kids. First it was the resurgence of Star Wars: Revenge of the Merchandising (I sound like the all-powerful Yogurt. Fear the Schwartz!!!). Now other childhood favorites are being brought back, first Transformers and soon G.I. Joe.

It has worked in many respects. I kept all my Joes and a few Star Wars items, and since I have 3 boys, it has been very easy to continue in that vein (my poor baby girl is already getting cast as Princess Leia). The boys think Star Wars is The Clone Wars, but I blame George Lucas for that. Overall, we have a very boyish household, with hordes of Clone Troopers and a veritable platoon of Joes.

Toys are one thing. The big screen debuts of these childhood icons is quite another. I know there has been plenty of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by rabid fanboys who were afraid their childhood would be ruined if Transformers or G.I. Joe is mishandled on celluloid.

I don’t think I’m rabid (checks mirror, no foam, good sign…). I would love to see an epic production of these worlds. But I also look at things now from a Biblical worldview, and from someone who watches pop culture. I’m grown up (somewhat), so I do view these things differently.

I was massively disappointed in Transformers 1. The movie is marketed to kids, but it has some highly inappropriate content for the under 12 set, and the movie supposedly wasn’t for its “target” audience, as it had a PG-13 label. Even on a technical, quality level it is a let down. The special effects are cool when visible, but so much of the action is rolling together, you can’t tell which giant robot to root for.
After reading reviews for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, I didn’t even bother seeing it. My understanding is that the director took the sexualization and inappropriate content to an even higher level, and that there is little plot. Now, you won’t get Shakespeare with a yellow Camaro that turns into a robot, but it sounds like there wasn’t much to recommend it. Again, it is so marketed to kids that I get really frustrated when the producers make it so unfriendly for kids. Of course, it is the blockbuster of the summer and I know kids who have seen it, so I am likely in the minority. As usual.

This makes me dread G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra coming out in August. There’s been bad vibes for the movie all along, and in watching the trailers some aspects make me cring (accelerator suit – I’m lookin’ at you). My concern is more in items that often go unnoticed – what’s the prevailing worldview, what type of humor do they go for, language. As far as language and humor, I would be quite upset if they played like Transformers did, with a lot of coarse talk and jokes, since G.I. Joe is also being marketed to kids under 13 (so far there’s no rating for it). I’ve heard that it wasn’t made like that, but we’ll see in a few weeks.

The worldview has already been challenged too. G.I. Joe is quintessentially American, but even though it was fairly multicultural even in the 80’s, it didn’t seem to stand the test of pluralism in the 21 century. Initially it was said that G.I. Joe was centered in Brussels, Belgium, which had the fanboys up in arms (apparantly this is gone). Some characters have been changed to different races. But how will the patriotic, positive vibe from G.I. Joe hold up in these times of America being less popular internationally, and our cynical post-modern viewpoints? How much do values of courage, honor, and self-sacrifice hold up? These are just some of the questions I will be asking when watching the movie.

I realize it is summer popcorn entertainment. A movie based off of 80’s war toys isn’t the best vehicle for philosophising, but worldview is everywhere. So maybe I rant a little here (maybe???), but I will not shut off my brain just because Snake Eyes is finally on the big screen (though he does look awesome!).

Yo Joe!

Christian Pop Culture

I came across an article on Slate entitled “Pop Goes Christianity” discussing a book from Daniel Radosh entitled Rapture Ready! : Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. It is an interesting indictment on the subject of the sub-culture created by American Evangelicals. I think it raises some interesting issues on one hand, and dismisses or misunderstands other ideas mentioned.

How about an inflammatory quote taken out of context?

For faith, the results can be dangerous. A young Christian can get the idea that her religion is a tinny, desperate thing that can’t compete with the secular culture. A Christian friend who’d grown up totally sheltered once wrote to me that the first time he heard a Top 40 station he was horrified, and not because of the racy lyrics: “Suddenly, my lifelong suspicions became crystal clear,” he wrote. “Christian subculture was nothing but a commercialized rip-off of the mainstream, done with wretched quality and an apocryphal insistence on the sanitization of reality.”

I think this article touches on things that this blog and many other of my friends have addressed. There is a problem in how Christian culture is promoting itself, and if we look like a “parallel universe,” it is not to our credit. However, the article doesn’t understand some of the topics it is talking about either.

Read the article, and I’ll talk about it more this weekend.

Christian Pop Culture

I came across an article on Slate entitled “Pop Goes Christianity” discussing a book from Daniel Radosh entitled Rapture Ready! : Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. It is an interesting indictment on the subject of the sub-culture created by American Evangelicals. I think it raises some interesting issues on one hand, and dismisses or misunderstands other ideas mentioned.

How about an inflammatory quote taken out of context?

For faith, the results can be dangerous. A young Christian can get the idea that her religion is a tinny, desperate thing that can’t compete with the secular culture. A Christian friend who’d grown up totally sheltered once wrote to me that the first time he heard a Top 40 station he was horrified, and not because of the racy lyrics: “Suddenly, my lifelong suspicions became crystal clear,” he wrote. “Christian subculture was nothing but a commercialized rip-off of the mainstream, done with wretched quality and an apocryphal insistence on the sanitization of reality.”

I think this article touches on things that this blog and many other of my friends have addressed. There is a problem in how Christian culture is promoting itself, and if we look like a “parallel universe,” it is not to our credit. However, the article doesn’t understand some of the topics it is talking about either.

Read the article, and I’ll talk about it more this weekend.

Culturally Savvy Christian

Dick Staub is on the forefront of dealing with Christianity and pop culture. He has a blog post that is so good in describing the “culturally savvy Christian” I wish I could steal it and post it here as mine. No such luck however. A quote from the article:

So what is a CSC?

A CSC is serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two.

Go check out the main article. His book of the same title is high on my wish list. Also, you can sign up for his update Culture Watch. Good stuff.

Culturally Savvy Christian

Dick Staub is on the forefront of dealing with Christianity and pop culture. He has a blog post that is so good in describing the “culturally savvy Christian” I wish I could steal it and post it here as mine. No such luck however. A quote from the article:

So what is a CSC?

A CSC is serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two.

Go check out the main article. His book of the same title is high on my wish list. Also, you can sign up for his update Culture Watch. Good stuff.

Culture and More Culture

I don’t intend for this blog to become a pop culture blog, but I do enjoy keeping up with things and seeing how it all plays out. I do think that the interaction between Christianity and pop culture is particularly interesting, and of course some of what I have done here deals with that. With that, I wanted to point out a couple of discussions or articles of interest.

Becky at A Christian Worldview of Fiction is tackling the ever-present topic of “What is Christian fiction?” See the post and comments that inspired it, then read her short story and dive into the debate.

Alex Wainer posts an insightful essay on Breakpoint talking about Christians and entertainment.

Those wishing to produce and market films to the large Christian audience looking for movies that aren’t hostile to their deepest beliefs should keep in mind several elements that set such stories on a promising path.

Read the full article to see the aspects he is espousing. He is speaking specifically about movies, but I think his ideas fully apply to all forms: music, fiction, comics, or whatever we strive to do.

From that article I discovered that Alex contributes to the Culture Beat, a blog that keeps track of pop culture and spiritual issues. Looks like a new one for my Bloglines feeds.

Check them out if you get a chance.

Culture and More Culture

I don’t intend for this blog to become a pop culture blog, but I do enjoy keeping up with things and seeing how it all plays out. I do think that the interaction between Christianity and pop culture is particularly interesting, and of course some of what I have done here deals with that. With that, I wanted to point out a couple of discussions or articles of interest.

Becky at A Christian Worldview of Fiction is tackling the ever-present topic of “What is Christian fiction?” See the post and comments that inspired it, then read her short story and dive into the debate.

Alex Wainer posts an insightful essay on Breakpoint talking about Christians and entertainment.

Those wishing to produce and market films to the large Christian audience looking for movies that aren’t hostile to their deepest beliefs should keep in mind several elements that set such stories on a promising path.

Read the full article to see the aspects he is espousing. He is speaking specifically about movies, but I think his ideas fully apply to all forms: music, fiction, comics, or whatever we strive to do.

From that article I discovered that Alex contributes to the Culture Beat, a blog that keeps track of pop culture and spiritual issues. Looks like a new one for my Bloglines feeds.

Check them out if you get a chance.