Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Grand Time to be a Geek, a retrospective

     The twelve year old me (circa 1990....something) would be amazed with today.  When I was twelve,  the only cable channels of note were ESPN, CNN(Bo-ring), and HBO (which seemed to be a non-stop run of The Karate Kid part III, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Driving Miss Daisy). If you told me there are whole channels solely devoted to such things as Science Fiction (correction....was), Kung-Fu Movies/the Martial Arts, or Gaming/Geek Culture ,   I would call you a liar.  If I wanted to buy an Anime video or rare book that I couldn't find at my local mall's Sam Goody or Waldenbooks (respectively),  I would either have to travel all the way to New York City to a Tower Records (RIP) or Kim's Video.  If you told me that there is something called the internet and that I can get all of these just by sitting on my ass with one click of a mouse, I wouldn't believe you.  Finally, if you told me the twelve year old me that there was a massive event called Comic Con, which brings in the big industry leaders and personalites of comics, graphic novels, anime, video games, television, and movies all into one place, (a place where some companies will launch their new product lines) I would call you full of shit.  An event like this would be few and far between.   Now, it seems like every city has a Comic Con variant of some sort.  Before Comic Con would have been attended by the die hard fanboy( or girl) that could recite every origin story in their respective universe.  Now, it is attended by the casual fan that probably discovered a favorite superhero character from a summer blockbuster.  It is great to be finally accepted.  With what will be a recurring theme to this blog (then vs. now), I will first explore movies.


       CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) has been a Godsend to the geek.  I know I'm in the minority, but I can almost forgive George Lucas for the many distracting tweaks that he makes to every new Star Wars compilation released.  His company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) drove the CGI movement.   ILM's computer graphics division was sold to Steve Jobs and became Pixar (which is repsonsible for such movies as Toy Story and Finding Nemo).  ILM's first notable project,  was Terminator II: Judgement Day and the innovative, amazing special effects.

This started a domino effect with the quality of special effects in movies. But before this, special effects looked something like this:

(note: no matter how bad the special effects are in Big Trouble in Little China, it's still a great movie).

By comparison, Captain America circa 1990

......and Captain America (2011)

Looking back, a so-so movie filled with out-of-date special effects can be almost unbearable to watch.  But with classics like, Big Trouble in Little China or Ghostbusters, I forget how bad the special effects are.

 This trickled down into television, where we now can get quality special effects in television shows, which gave us more comic book and science fiction based TV shows.  Nowadays, professional camera equipment and movie production software are now accessible to any aspiring movie making enthusiast.  The result, some kick ass fan-made movies, like this fan-made Star Wars Movie:

which brings me to....

'Cyberspace' aka... The World Wide Web..

        No need to go on a rant about the obvious (i.e. changes in the way we communicate, changes in the way we get our information, etc.).  From the early days  of dial-up when people posted their fan-fiction on bulletin boards to today gamers from around the world play on World of Warcraft, the internet was a haven that gave geeks a haven where they can can share ideas or.....beat the crap out of each other as gamers. 

         There was no TMZ or Twitter.  The only way you heard about a movie in development or see any cool production pictures was through monthly publications such as Fangoria or Starlog.  Teaser trailers, like this or production videos like so would be hard to come by, unless you lived in Hollywood or lucky enough to be in a location where a major movie is being filmed.  Speaking of trailers, I remember having to sneak into the movies just to watch this trailer the summer before it came out

       Finally, as I mentioned before, if you wanted to get a  cassette tape (RIP) , book, comic book, or VHS not available at your local bookstore or mall, you would have to do one of two things:  (1) order it out of a catalog (2) go to the nearest store like Virgin Megastore or specialty shop.  With the internet, you can get everything off of Amazon or  (illegally or legally) download it, right from the convenience of your own home.  Of course this did come with some consequences.

     Looking back on what we had, I can certainly appreciate what we have now.  From the plethora of  kick ass science fiction/comic book based movies to television shows.  The accessibility to our once secretive/closed off culture has spread to the masses, for better or worse.  I do miss the anticipation before a huge movie/record came out or the naivete versus the information overload we have nowadays (for instance, many of us who had to wait 16 years for the Star Wars prequel have probably concocted a story much cooler than what George Lucas actually put on film).  But with such accessibility to the culture, whether it's a casual fan to a die-hard Trekkie, its a grand time to be a geek.

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