Sunday, December 06, 2015

Pop Culture Through Identity

During my teen years, my family moved around a lot. I ended up going to four different high schools in four years. When asked about this by others, easiest thing for me to do is to say that my family moved around because we were following work. Most folks usually stop asking questions after that because it's a lot more complicated than just following work. As such, I was perpetually the new kid. Every time I got comfortable where I was and the friends I made, we moved. All that moving caused a kaleidoscope of issues growing up because things were always in flux, but the one constant that I had in those days was geek-culture. Whether it was watching syndicated episodes of the Simpsons, sitcoms, comic books, video games or movies, no matter where I moved to, they were always there in different shapes and forms. As such, I anchored my identity to said geek-culture for a lot of different reasons that go into escapism, entertainment, and fitting in at school.

Much like everyone else in their adolescent years, I would put out my flags by scribbling on my note books, putting band patches on my back pack, and carrying trading cards in my school binders. Yes, you read that right, trading cards. From Marvel to Pokemon, I kept them inside my binder so that when I was in class, those around me would casually notice them and strike up a conversation to the affect of, "ohh you collect cars too? Let's hang out." It never failed. This is what helped me break the ice every time I changed schools and had to make friends all over again. I relied on this crutch for years, even after graduating from high school, since geek-culture wasn't what it is today with movies and tv shows all over the place. Being a nerd, geek, dork whatever you wanna call it, it's normalized now.

My individual identity has grown and changed over the years, but the foundation has remained the same. As such, I've stopped using pop culture and interest like that as crutches for my identity. It's not that I don't like all those things anymore, rather I'm over using other peoples works to express my individualism. Maybe it's age, but the older the I get the more I catch myself obsessing over trivial things that are nothing more than entertainment. I've gone through a few different phases of this over the years, but now more than ever, I'm avoiding it altogether. I don't need to obsess over a tv show, movie franchise or anything else of the sort. I find it pathetic that folks look at me and think, 'ohh yeah. Erick is a huge Star Wars fan, Simpson fan, Comic Book fan etc. Most folks wouldn't even know who shot first, Han or Greedo.

It's all one giant played out inside joke in the end to get us to spend money on Darth Vader shower heads and Hello Kitty Vans. Still, I'll keep watching, reading, and buying because they're entertaining and that's where they'll stay for me. Sure, there's a whole bunch of other layers that touch on how entertainment like this influences society as a whole and how it plays out in our everyday lives, but that's neither here nor there. And don't even get me started on the issue of connecting the web of influences that go into movies, shows, and comics that I follow till I get to the root of it. Come on, Star Wars is nothing more than a mishmash of Buddhism set in outer space with Samurais, Cowboys, politics, war, romance, and white saviors. You're better off watching the Akira Kurosawa movies that "inspired" George Lucas, sans outer space and light sabers.

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