5 July 2015

Others People's Icons

I've never considered myself to have been born at the wrong time (I like history but I'm not big on idealising other time periods), but it does sometimes occur to me that my age and the circumstances of my childhood left me in a bit of a gap as far as pop culture (especially geek culture) is concerned.

I don't remember the 80s, I grew up mostly in the 90s and there was very little geekiness in my family (my dad reads SFF, but is not involved in fan stuff - in my experience there are a lot of people like that and I don't know that they get talked about much).  I didn't realise I was a geek until my late teens and didn't really explore what was out there until university. What this means is that a lot of my friends, acquaintances and people I follow on twitter have these cultural touchstones that they are very invested in. I have picked up a lot of the lingo and references, I have often seen the stuff in retrospect, but not really experienced the feels that others have.

I grew up in the Doctor Who gap. As a child I remember we had some knowledge of Doctor Who, we could identify a Dalek or the TARDIS. I remember when I was 6(ish) a group of kids running around holding rulers and saying "Exterminate" in robot voices. Scarves were also important somehow and hiding behind the sofa. I never saw Doctor Who on TV, I wasn't aware of any of the fan-made stuff, the novels, the audiobooks. To me, as a child, Doctor Who was something that used to be on TV. I enjoy Doctor Who now, to a variable extent, but it's not part of my childhood. My Doctor was the guy from the Knock-Knock joke.*

Also I've never seen E.T. all the way through, but I do mostly remember that alien from the BT adverts (it really was the perfect campaign for them when you think about it). It's probably a little sad that a lot of other people's icons are my marketing devices.

Nowhere is my growing up in the gap more evident than Star Wars and this year I've really noticed it. I first saw the original trilogy all the way through on telly when I was 17. I already knew the basics just from consuming pop culture, the references are all over the place. I seem to recall thinking it was OK, but I had no real sense of wonder or excitement. I had always lived in a world where all this already existed. I was not bothered about The Phantom Menace, I expect I saw adverts but I wasn't involved in geek culture of any kind so the whole thing passed me by. The only Star Wars film I have seen in the cinema is Episode III, because my then-boyfriend (now-husband) had a traditional of seeing the midnight screenings (I agree with my friend Greg that George Lucas was clearly trying to blind us all with that film, an effect heightened by having been awake hours longer than usual) and my Dad also wanted to see it. 
I've been trying to stay away from all the Star Wars hype this year, just gleaning bits of info from social media and podcasts. If I hear too much about it all I will be sick of it before it even comes out. Though I did hear it mentioned months ago on the store radio when I was in ASDA, the hype has escaped geek spaces and there's no real way to entirely avoid it. I don't want to seem curmudgeonly, I appreciate that others like Star Wars on a level that I'm unlikely to ever feel myself and that's fine. If anything I guess I have an advantage in that I'm not so invested as to feel anger or betrayal if it is done wrong - whatever "wrong" is. 

I don't think I have an equivalent of Star Wars or Doctor Who, something from my youth I feel that deeply about. I have things I really enjoy of course, many of them seen or read after the fact. I'm not so ignorant as I once was, and my husband has ensured that I've seen the Alien and Matrix films I missed before. I've never considered myself part of a specific fandom, but that may be because for all that I am a geek I don't think my personality leans towards that so much. Also I can be a little standoffish, wary of giving myself to people or groups. Perhaps that's something I should change? For now though it's nice to see others enjoying things so much, and even if I don't feel it myself I like to see my friends' joy and enthusiasm.

* If anyone is unfamiliar with the knock-knock joke feel free to ask.

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