Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are You Frustrated, Football Fans? Well, So Am I!

Probably everyone reading this knows that I've loved parodies for years.  I'm not just talking about music parodies, such as what "Weird Al" Yankovic does, although his work is included.  Movie parodies are also enjoyable; I remember having some Big Dogs shirts that spoofed popular movies such as Spider-Man ("Peter Barker is Spider-Dog!") or Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones ("Dog Wars: Attack of the Bones").  Even a clip I saw at MovieStop from Scary Movie 4 that poked fun at the Tom Cruise "jumping the couch" incident made me laugh.  However, one thing about parodies--at least, ones that are intended to be funny--is that, if someone is unfamiliar with the work being spoofed, he/she won't find it the least bit humorous.  I remember seeing Galaxy Quest and not liking it one bit.  When I found out from a movie-fanatic friend that it was full of Star Trek allusions, I understood why I didn't appreciate it: I knew next to nothing about Gene Roddenberry's space opera at the time.
Still, what happened last night was even worse. That was when the second season premiere of Victorious, "The Breakfast Bunch," aired on Nickelodeon.  Prior to its airing, I was quite excited; I absolutely loved last December's Christmas episode and the "You're the Reason" video.  However, "The Breakfast Bunch" ended up being a terrible disappointment.  As you probably guessed from its title, said episode was a spoof of the classic 80's film The Breakfast Club.  However, what I saw last night wasn't the least bit funny to me, because I've never seen that film and have no intention of doing so.  I'd imagine that the vast majority of the target audience--ages eight to fourteen--was just as clueless throughout the episode as I was. The implications were even worse; the characters used the word "vegan" Meet the Parents-style to suggest another "V" word, and a willingness (or lack thereof) to eat tacos implied whether or not they would do the according act. I may be somewhat naïve, but even I got what they were suggesting. "The Breakfast Bunch" may have been rated "TV-G," but the suggestiveness brought it very close to "PG-13" territory.
By now, you're probably wondering what on earth all that has to do with you football fans. Well, I'll tell you: I may be a layperson when it comes to football, but I do know that the Super Bowl is widely considered to be the biggest sporting event in the United States. Advertisers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their commercials to air during the game, and people who normally don't pay much attention to the NFL willingly plop down on their couches to watch it. Yet, many of my sports-loving friends feel totally indifferent about this year's "big game". Either they don't care for the New England Patriots nor the New York Giants, or they just want one team to win because they absolutely despise the other team and/or one of its players. For such a widely celebrated sporting event, it seems like most NFL fans won't be watching, simply because they're disappointed by which teams were this year's NFC and AFC champions.
I've mentioned before on here that I used to despise all sports and all sports fans. One thing I didn't get was why people were so devoted to their team(s), and got upset when the game didn't go as they'd hoped. Of course, I eventually realized (on my own, mind you) that I didn't have any right to bash others' irrational devotion, since I've been guilty of that my entire life. I later understood the concept of "wounded pride" after seeing Siobhan Magnus get unfairly eliminated from American Idol, not to mention that abysmal Love and Other Drugs preview featuring none other than my then-Hollywood sweetheart Anne Hathaway. Well, now, not only am I experiencing wounded pride again, but I'm also sharing most football fans' frustration. Entertainment is to me what sports is to most of you; while you have at least one favorite team whom you always want to win, I have favorite celebrities whom I always want to see succeed in whatever they do: acting, singing, writing, etc. So, when I see something such as "The Breakfast Bunch," it's as upsetting to me as that alleged epic fail of a field goal during the Forty-Niners/Giants game last Sunday is to you.
What's my point? At the risk of sounding like a certain former President, I feel your pain. You're frustrated with the current state of the NFL; I'm equally frustrated by the fact that my favorite show, which stars my favorite actress, potentially "jumped the shark" last night. That's why God gives us friends: to support us during trying times. My only hope is that these upsetting events (that is, the latest Victorious episode as well as who is playing in this year's Super Bowl) don't become a trend.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Why?" Well, Why Not?

Throughout my life, I have been criticized by, well...pretty much everyone for the things that I do/don't do or have/haven't done.  "Why don't you watch [or play] sports? All the other guys do!" "Why do you listen to [or watch, or play] that stuff? No one else does!" "Why are you so vocal about your celebrity crushes? They're just silly, rootless fantasies!" "What do you need [insert item(s) I want or just obtained here] for?" "Why do you want to work at a library?" You know, I've been hearing it for so long that I've become used to it.  I get that most people aren't going to understand why I do or like the things I do, and why I rarely do/like the things the general public seems to thoroughly enjoy.
Many times, whether they realize it or not, people get too bogged down in tradition.  I'm not talking about religious traditions; I'm talking about society's unwritten rules for what each person should like and/or do, not just during everyday life, but also for special occasions: Christmas, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, engagements, Thanksgiving, etc.  I've seen that quite a bit over the years; between unnecessary holiday celebrations and things that no one really wanted to do during special occasions but were done anyway due to tradition, it seems like it happens way too much.
I've mentioned before on here that I enjoy bucking tradition; part of it is because my life has always been nontraditional.  Most people grow up with both a mother figure and a father figure; I essentially had two moms (my mom and my eleven-year-older sister) and no paternal figure to speak of.  Most oldest siblings look out for their younger brothers and/or sisters; my oldest sibling (that is, not the eleven-year-older one I just mentioned) was severely disabled and never really could do much of anything.  Most kids have to book a flight or take a long car trip to visit any of their grandparents, aunts, and/or uncles; my maternal grandmother, as well as all of my aunts and uncles and most of my first cousins on my mom's side of the family, lived (and, for the most part, still do live) no more than forty-five minutes from our house.
Sounds completely unlike what you're used to, doesn't it? Well, then, you can see why I don't mind defying tradition.  That may seem weird to you, but I'm reminded of a scene from the sitcom-based Disney movie My Favorite Martian. When Tim (the film's Earthling protagonist) says, "I don't believe in aliens," his "Uncle Martin" (who, in reality, is not his uncle, but a Martian visiting Earth) says, "To us, you are the alien."  I could make a similar statement: To me, you are the weird ones.  True, tradition works for some people; as long as it does, there's nothing wrong with sticking to it.  However, when doing things just because that's the way "everybody else" does them, you have to ask yourself Dr. Phil's question: "How's that working for you?" If the answer is, "Not very well," then maybe you should rethink what you're doing.  Frankly, I see no point in sticking to tradition when all it's doing is throwing a wrench into the works.
You may wonder: If I don't use tradition as my standard for why I do or like the things I do, then what do I use? First off, I use a moral standard: If anything goes against my morals, then I don't do it, and if I have been engaging in an activity, then realize such a thing is sinful, such as using illegally copied software, then I wash my hands of it as soon as possible.  Other than that, it's pretty much whatever I enjoy, whether it's popular or not.  My tastes don't completely go against popular opinion; most people (guys and girls) like Apple technology as well as superhero/science fiction/fantasy movies, and so do I.  Still, just because society says that I have to watch this and shouldn't have that doesn't mean I'll follow their rules.
I often think of Tim Taylor's classic line from Home Improvement: "Some tool men say, 'Why?'  This tool man says, 'Why not?'" I could make a similar statement: Everyone else asks, "Why?" Why do I need six calendars? Why do I listen to artists such as Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, or American Idol contestants? Why do I watch Nickelodeon shows and Disney Channel Original Movies? To all of them, I say, "Why not?" Seriously, as long as I'm not doing anything immoral or illegal, then what's the problem?  Similar statements have been expressed in songs by multiple artists/bands, from Hilary Duff ("Why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? If you lose the moment, you may lose a lot, so why not?") to Bon Jovi ("It's my life! It's now or never! I ain't gonna live forever! I just wanna live while I'm alive! It's my life!") to Smash Mouth ("So much to do, so much to see, so what's wrong with taking the back streets?") to even Frank Sinatra ("Regrets? I've had a few, but, then again, too few to mention! I did what I had to do, and saw it through without exemption! I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway, and more, much more than this: I did it my way!") Even the classic poet Robert Frost had something to say about it: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  I know that what I do probably doesn't fit your definition of normal.  However, I'm reminded of the quotation from the classic George Orwell novel Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." I have a similar feeling about people: Everyone is unique, but some people are more unique than others.  I should know; I fall into that latter category.  If you know me, can you honestly disagree with that statement? Didn't think so.
Any comments?