Archives for posts with tag: pop culture

Movies are a truly unique art form and form of entertainment. At their best they’re entertaining, immersive, and just plain fun. Those of us who love them gobble them up like the scrummiest of snacks, often the same one over and over, until we can yell our favorite lines at the screen like a freelancing Rocky Horror fan.

And it shows. I’m not sure how long ago I really started noticing how familiar so many movies have become, but now that I’m aware of that glaringly obvious little fact it’s become almost annoyingly glaringly obvious. The concept caught my attention because of what an unrepentant channel flipper I am. What “they” say about men being the worst about it doesn’t mean they’re the only ones.  Many a beautifully manicured (not mine…I can’t type with long nails, so mine look like they’ve been ravaged by runaway clippers!) feminine hand belongs to a channel flipping virtuoso.

If I don’t have a regularly DVRed program lined up, or while said program is recording, I flip channels like a demographically enhanced automaton, landing on random stuff that catches my interest. My brain comes to rest on anything from Buffy to Twilight Zone to Everybody Loves Frasier. When those last two combined are on at the same time, I watch bits of both, only becoming confused if Hot in Cleveland is on too…since it has Daphne and sometimes Robert’s chain smoking mother-in-law, or to really make my head explode, Frasier’s dad appears in the mix. All I’m lacking is Eddie running through chasing Pumpernickel and George Clooney. And I don’t even normally watch Hot in Cleveland!

It’s surprising that, between the commercial skipping DVRed stuff and the wildly flipped across stuff, I ever even notice random movie landings. I do, though. I’m sure I’ve always done it, but it suddenly came to my attention one channel flippy night that I recognize a lot of movies almost instantly. Not just movies I’ve seen a zillion times either. Often it’s something I haven’t seen at all. That’s extremely telling about the movie industry’s deeply entrenched place in the collective consciousness.

Sure, you see a flash of a white T-shirt flaunting alarming blood spatter and catch a snatch of classical music, you know you’ve hit The Silence of the Lambs, without even a glimpse of those piercingly mad baby blues. Hear Judi Dench’s unmistakable accent/voice combo say the single letter “M” and you recognize a Bond movie with no Bond, James Bond in sight. Glimpse a golden ring engraved with Elvish words you can’t read yet know by heart, and you may not instantly know which individual movie it is, but you certainly nail the franchise it belongs to.

Somehow, though, so many movies creep or blast or FX their way into pop culture that mere snippets are familiar, even when you have never seen them. A lilting song, a maniacal laugh, such an iconic image that it practically reaches out of the screen and grabs your eyeballs. For instance, I’ve never seen The Shining, but I recognize those two girls when I see them. Even a simple looking corridor that “belongs” to that movie unmistakably. I haven’t seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (I have got to catch up on Nicholson movies!), yet the words Nurse Ratched, with or without a visual of the amazing Louise Fletcher (big fan from other things from Deep Space Nine to myriad movie roles spanning her stellar career) scream the title of that movie.

How is this possible? Because movies have a different influence over us than books or music or paintings. They engage multiple senses at once. They’re designed to pull us in and stay with us. They have a hold on us, whether it’s through multiple exposures to engaging, beloved stories or catch phrases and iconic images that command and demand their place in our gray matter.

We used to be limited to however many times we could manage to see a movie in a theater, but now technology has gifted us with limitless possibilities. Rent, stream, buy, YouTube, Netflix, even the public library…movies are everywhere, any time, all the time. It’s a gift. It’s a treasure. And, in the wee small channel flipping hours of the darkest night, a single cry from the speakers reminds me of yet another movie I’ve never seen, but want to:

“Stella!”

Futurama has been, for me, one of those weird things that happens sometimes. I wasn’t crazy about it at first. Stranger yet, I did not like Bender. At all. I thought he was a little too bizarre and I didn’t like his voice. Well, now the announcement that it’s been canceled–again–is sinking in and I am not happy. Not happy at all. It didn’t take long for it to become a must see…and Bender my favorite sometimes rusty curmudgeon.

So here are some of the things I love most about it and why I’m gearing up to start to miss it while it’s still here.

1. The aforementioned sometimes rusty curmudgeon, with a well hidden heart of gold. Why, don’t you know? Bender Bending Rodriguez is fill-in-the-number % any metal that leads to a wellworn punchline. His heart may actually be gold…nah, he’d have hocked it by now. Besides…robots don’t have hearts. Or do they?

2. All things Nibbler. From the moment he ate the entire contents of the would be Ark in the guise of Planet Express Ship, then burped somewhat apologetically, he was one of my Futurama things to look forward to. Cuddly, adorable, poops space ship fuel…what’s not to love? His big eventual reveal as a highly intelligent space commander was as exciting as finding out who would end up as keeper of the Island on Lost. Too bad there wasn’t a crossover. I can just see Hurley careening through the rain forest on Scooty Puff Sr..

3. Zoidberg. The sad sack crustacean medic, with the iffy credentials, relative of Harold Zoid, forgotten silent moviestar. One of the best parody eps they did was when Zoidberg’s intended took a shine to Fry and they engaged in a sight gag riddled fight to the death a la Original Star Trek’s classic Amok Time. Zoidberg is so altogether ookie he could fit right in between Uncle Fester and Cousin It at an Adams Family dinner, but he can still make you want to give him a hug. As long as you don’t startle him. Ink is so hard to get out of clothes.

4. All those in jokes on pop culture. My favorites: The actual Star Trek episode, with all the original characters including most of the real actor’s voices, and the addition of…”Welshie!” Plus the robot asylum, with Nurse Ratchett in charge, and robot Mad Hatter screaming “Change places!” constantly and making poor, misdiagnosed not a robot Fry spill his oil-for-lunch. Priceless!

5. They took on serious social issues sometimes too. Things like prejudice against cyclops Leela and her sewer dwelling parents, and greedy land development when Amy’s dad wanted to decimate a planet for a golf course.

6. My singlemost favorite thing about Futurama has been the clever oneliners. Like the old lady land lady “You young whatchacallit…idiot!”. Fry’s adamant “Oh, no, I won’t’nt!”. Even the Professor’s befuddled “Wha–?” makes me smile. And the brain twisters that can make me laugh long after I first hear them. The best one ever was the game title “World of World War II 3”.

7. Tinny Tim, the robot street urchin straight out of a Dickens Christmas…if Dickens had envisioned a robot London. Complete with crutch and pitiful, starving sigh.

7. The very concept of Robot Santa just slays me. Pun intended. A jolly old metal elf run amuck, weapons blazing…with a missle launcher that fires toys in projectile form at terrified children. Hmm. Wonder if Tinny Tim’s leg injury was from a well aimed bicycle launch.

8. Calculon and All My Circuits.

9. The Robot Mafia. Clamps!

10. Kiff and Amy.

And much, much more.

I hope they do a proper series finale, if it’s really canceled this time. Will Bender come down with roberculosis for real? Will Zoidy get a life? Can Fry get, and keep, the cyclops of his dreams? Or will they all hold in place, waiting like I will be for it to get uncancelled again?

Will I ever not miss new episodes of Futurama? Oh, no. I won’t’nt!