Monday, May 18, 2009

Why My Generation Should Be a Lot More Screwed Up Than It Is.

Some friends of mine had a '90s-themed party last weekend that I couldn't attend because I was working. I did see some pictures, and while the costumes were painfully accurate, I can't say that I see all that many radical differences between the '90s and the '00s. Maybe that's the most surefire sign that I'm getting older in my relatively young adulthood, and, as you're reading this, you might be thinking about what a ridiculous, f$%&ed-up thing that is to say, considering all the massive cultural changes that have taken place. I have my reasons.

I was born in 1978, meaning that while my more socially formative years took place in the '90s, my early development took place in the '80s. Sure, maybe denim shirts and high-waisted shorts seem dated now, but come on. I grew up thinking everyone wore leotards and Hawaiian shirts to high school, and my biggest heroes were two rednecks with a confederate flag airbrushed on their car and Mr. T.

All things considered, I can't believe that my generation isn't more screwed up than it already is, just based on what we were watching when the logic centers of brains were developing. At this point, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop because we all simultaneously lose our minds, the delayed result of the mental conditioning we were subject to. Don't think my fears have any basis in reality? Well, here's this.


1. Spastic dancing will never make you look like a complete idiot.

I don't know what it was about dancing in the '80s, but flailing around wildly was so cool and deviant that it was banned in entire towns. What the hell happened in the '70s that dancing became so risqué? Apparently, everyone hanging out doing 8-balls at discos was Amish. I wasn't in high school in the '80s, but when I was in third grade, I heard that some freshman had a seizure, and they gave him a Trans Am and elected him senior class president based on it.

2. Technology evolves at breakneck speeds, and computers are capable of anything.

Sure, it's one thing when a scientist devotes his entire life to building a time machine out of an obscure hatchback sportscar, and in the event that you accidentally discover artificial intelligence, there's a 50/50 shot that it'll go rogue on you and kill your whole family. That's almost plausible. But Weird Science? Two high school kids created Kelly LeBrock out of thin air using an Apple IIe. Of course, this is also the same decade when MacGyver was on, and I'm pretty sure there was an episode where he built a particle collider out of a Pogo Ball® and a couple of ketchup packets.

3. Every hero needs a useless sidekick, who occasionally presents him/her/itself as a dangerous liability.

He-Man has Orko, and the Super-Friends have Marvin, Wendy, and a dog with a cape (or Zan, Jayna, and that blue monkey thing, depending on the episode). The Transformers hang out with a ten-year old kid with no discernible talents. The Thundercats...oh, sweet Jesus, the Thundercats.

Scenario: You and your friends are all anthropomorphic talking cat people. You already have two preadolescent talking cat children that do little else than fly around on hoverboards and get kidnapped. For the love of God, why would you keep Snarf around? Snarf isn't even a person-shaped cat. He's a cat-shaped cat. Not only that, he doesn't really talk, he just whines loudly and incessantly. I realize that sidekicks are good for merchandising, and that 80's cartoons were little more than 30 minute commercials for action figures. But really? Snarf?

Marketing Guy #1: "All right, we've got Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, and a couple of kids. Lemme double check the universal 1980's marketing formula male protagonist, check. Girl on the team, check. Couple of relatable kid sidekicks...wait, we need a minority."

Marketing Guy #2: "Panthro's black...well, kind of. He's grayish. But the voice actor is black."

Marketing Guy #1: "Awesome. We're all set. Let's make some money."

Ronnie the Intern: "Wait! Wait, I have an idea! What...what about...a cat who kind of looks a fat lizard?"

Marketing Guy #2: "Wh...what? Why?"

Marketing Guy #1: "Ronnie, come on. Why would we need--(sigh). Fine. What does he do?"

Ronnie the Intern: "Um...he...uh...he says his own name over and over!"

Marketing Guy #1: "..."

Marketing Guy #2: "Jesus."

Ronnie the Intern: "My dad owns LJN!"

Marketing Guy #1: "Yeah, we know, Ronnie. Your dad also said that you're not supposed to take your helmet off, even--check that, especially--during creative meetings. You know what? Fine. Ronnie's goddamn fat-ass whining lizard-cat-thing is in."

Ronnie the Intern: "Yaaaaaay!!!" (bangs head on table)

4. Antagonists are always blonde jocks with money.

5. Nerds are only a two-minute montage sequence away from complete social dominance.

Sorry, you're a nerd. BUT can immediately redeem yourself by taking your glasses off, blasting yourself with a can of hairspray, and ripping the sleeves off your shirt.* Don't worry, everyone will accept this newfound coolness immediately and unquestioningly, except for that blonde jock and his sycophant sidekick toadie bastard friend in the corner, who have, by now, rapidly tumbled all the way down the popularity ladder as a result of their inexplicable hatred of you.

* - Bonus cool points are awarded if you're wearing a headband, and/or are covered in glitter.

6. Analog strap-on keyboards are the music of the future.

Because nothing matches asymmetrical plastic sunglasses and red leather pants better than a piano stuck to your chest.

7. Doppelgangers of you, of alien, robot, or mystical origin, look, sound, and act exactly like you down to the finest detail, except that they're either evil or socially retarded.

8. Any altercation can be resolved quickly and peacefully with breakdancing.

This especially includes any situation involving gang fights, orphans, fundraisers, or gangs hosting orphanage fundraisers. You'll be able to tell the difference between each gang because their colors are always bright pastels.

9. Leg warmers are useful for...something.

And, last but not least...

10. The leading cause of social alienation and missing persons is post-traumatic global amnesia, a result of sustaining a massive head injury.

But not to worry. This is always invariably cured, with no side effects, as a result of another massive head injury.

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