An audience is a fickle creature. There is a fine line between giving an audience just enough of that certain something, leaving them wanting more and then completely overdoing it. Oh wait. No there isn’t. The line is about a mile wide. It’s the difference between Boba Fett’s sparse appearance in Return of the Jedi and his ham-fisted inclusion in Attack of the Clones. It is amazing to watch an audience turn from absolute adoration to abhorrence. Here is a list of subjects that have become so completely over-saturated, that they barely make sense any more.
Now, just to clear things up: I do not hate any of these. In fact, I like a few of these subjects! If your hobbies include these in any way, I do not hate you (maybe). I am merely suggesting that we just let them rest for a bit before you drain every last drop of blood from your favorite subject. Still don’t get it? Just sit at your desk. Now say the word “the” over and over. By the 50th or 60th time, it should have no meaning and just sound like gibberish. Just like the following.
Although I enjoy steampunk, it is probably not for the reasons most people do. I just love watching a bunch of nerds attach gears to themselves and awkwardly pose for photos. It’s hilarious. On occasion, there is a costume out there that even impresses me, so I am not entirely heartless. However, steampunk keeps appearing in the media as an excuse to mix subject A with subject B. Want to mix in cowboys and sci-fi? Steampunk Cowboys. Think Aristotle should fight vampires? Steampunk Philosophizers. This trend culminates to a horrid point with Steampunk Palin. Simply plugging in Steampunk SUBJECT X, demonstrates that you have little more creativity than a blender.
This one pains me to write, because I do love zombies. I have discussed potential zombie apocalypse plans with friends. One of my favorite movies is 28 Days Later. I love The Walking Dead, both the comic and the TV show. I am horrible, I know. As much as I enjoy the concept and genre, I am sick to death of seeing it crammed into places it doesn’t need to be. We don’t need a half-assed zombie mode in Call of Duty or “hey me too!” zombie game-types thrown in our adventure games. The world doesn’t need 3,000 B-movies a year with a shared plot that consists of “zombies are cool, what if they were pirates/Nazis/strippers?” No one needs 200 custom, silk screened T-shirts with some variation of “I [brain] zombies” on it. Back in the day, Romero used zombies as a metaphor for crushing consumer culture and now the situation is becoming almost literal (sans rotting flesh).
I don’t even know where to begin. Television shows, stop using Star Wars as a crutch for your dialog. Comedians, you have made every Star Wars joke ever. George Lucas, please don’t release the entire Star Wars series in 3D. Please. Oh, you’re going to anyway, aren’t you? We’ll touch on that later.
We have completely tapped out the stories, costumes, designs, concepts, and themes of Star Wars; between TV shows, movies, re-releases, re-edits, books, comics, references, jokes, and everything in between. We’re trying to make orange juice out of the rind now. Nothing is ever going to recapture the whimsical glory of the original movies, but everything can damage it. Rather than dumping more and more content on the public, Lucas should go into reclusion. There should be no official Star Wars products released. Not even a set of Episode IV marbles. Hell, no one should even talk about Star Wars for a few years. Then, maybe, we can finally have time to forget the crap Lucas has put out and begin pining for the series again.
Hey, Remember This?
If your only gimmick is that you make references to things other people have seen before, you need to stop. This seems to describe 90% of “geek culture” (and Family Guy jokes). We get it. You also know about a thing we know about too. That’s great. The problem with this is that now pop culture seems to just be a reflection of last decade’s pop culture. What will happen in a few years? Will next decade’s pop culture become like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a…
This doesn’t just apply to referencing something that happened, but also with adding your own little twist to it too. A gritty, real life Mario? That’s never been seen before. Abraham Lincoln is a vampire slayer now? Let’s mix in Cthulu and Sense and Sensibility! You did it, you simultaneously diluted Jane Austen and H.P. Lovecraft. This trend culminates to a horrid point with Steampunk Palin.
Much like my ex-girlfriend, this was yet another thing I loved, until I couldn’t escape it. When they started reintroducing 3D movies a few years ago, I loved them. Those neat little glasses, things flying at your face, it was such a neat novelty. Seems someone forgot to tell movie studio executives that once you make a novelty the norm, the luster wears off. Now it seems every other movie is in 3D, many being filmed and written specifically to be released in that format. Not only does this drive up the price of movie tickets, but it also fills our rivers and chokes our dolphins with discarded RealD 3D polarized plastic movie glasses.
The debate as to whether 3D is even worth the price of admission keeps bouncing back and forth, but here’s how I see it: We pay more for a gimmick that basically adds almost nothing of value to a movie. When you leave a 3D movie, do you even remember that it was 3D? If it weren’t for the uncomfortable plastic glasses resting over my eyes, making me sweat (yes, my eyes sweat), I usually stop noticing any 3D effects come the midway point of any movie. And maybe it’s just me, but the best I can say for the majority of 3D movies I have seen is “At least it was shiny.” Plus it distracts from the plot and stuff.
Just to reiterate, I don’t actually hate any of these ideas, subjects, or themes. In fact, I have a place in my stupid, nerd heart for all of them. I wear geeky, referential t-shirts. I own several volumes of Marvel Zombies. I have read a Star Wars book (I’m sorry, mom). I am just suggesting (demanding) that we let topics rest and regain strength before we beat them completely into the ground. These topics aside, they are just symptoms of a bigger disease. We need to contribute to a pop culture that does more than remixes and mash-ups.
In a similar vein, Patton Oswald wrote an article for Wired that says anything I could ever say and more. It’s tonight’s recommended reading and I expect either a 1,000 word reflective essay or a 500 word confession/suicide note on my desk by tomorrow morning.