Another Curious Gap That Pop Culture Science Tells Us Should Be Filled


You know this phenomenon about things that have big enough fandoms. There’s some group that champions whatever the least important, least-loved part of it was. They’ll explain why everybody’s assessments are clouded by faulty expectations or big stereotypes or peer pressure. And they’re not being contrary hipsters. They really do think Zager and Evans deserve to be remembered for whatever song they did that wasn’t In The Year 2525.

So here’s what I’m getting at. There must be Beatles fans who figure the best, most purest expression of what was great about The Beatles was in their Saturday morning cartoon. Not the movie Yellow Submarine, understand, but the cartoon churned out in the mid-60s where Paul Frees and that guy who wasn’t Paul Frees did all the voices. The one you can get from the guy selling “totally legal” DVDs with the names written on the case in marker.

And the idiosyncratic fans are not being snarky, is the thing. They see themselves as advocates for an overlooked gem where, like, the Beatles are rehearsing in a haunted house but there’s a vampire and a ghost and a werewolf out to get them. Reason tells us they must exist.

But you don’t see them. They’re not out there raising squabbles and telling us how A Hard Day’s Night is not good, actually. There are very silly flame wars that are missing. So where are they? They must be massing their forces, gathering energy and organizing and getting ready to intrude on the public consciousness at some point. What are they waiting for and when will the invasion start? If you should know please give me a tip so I can avoid the Internet that day. Or make sure I don’t miss it because … like, I haven’t seen the cartoon but I’m guessing there’s probably an episode where, like, the Beatles swap bodies with a set of singing dogs, the Beagles, and I don’t want to miss that.

March Pairwise Brackety Contest Thing: Conventions vs Pop Philosophy


Conventions

The Case For: Allow fans to live the dream of spending several days happy surrounded by people whose names are printed clearly on badges they can glance at quickly so they always know who they’re talking to.

The Case Against: Might also be for work.

Pop Philosophy

The Case For: Helps the lay public discover what’s hard about questions like “how do we know a thing is true” or “what does it mean to say something is a good action” or “is this a well-defined question”.

The Case Against: Which nerds plunder for source material to make tabletop roleplaying games about trolley-based murder engines.

I Assume He’s A Duck Fan


You know, out there must be fans of The Plucky Duck Show. This was a short-lived spinoff of Tiny Toon Adventures made up of Tiny Toons segments featuring Plucky Duck. And among them? I bet there’s at least one person who loves The Plucky Duck Show and can’t stand Tiny Toons, even though there’s nothing in Plucky Duck that wasn’t in Tiny Toons except parts of the credits sequences. Well, I salute you and hope you have fun sticking to your weird guns.

At least we know there’s no strange holdout fan of Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain.

I Will Say The Bus Looks Neat Though


I’m running late on stuff this week. I always am, which raises questions about the use of “late” as a concept. Never mind. For this week I blame that I got to reading an article about the 70s Disaster Movie genre. And that lead me to the 1976 spoof of the 70s Disaster Movie genre, The Big Bus. There’s many shocking things about this, starting with the idea that 70s Disaster Movies were somehow not already their parodies. The difference between The Towering Inferno and SCTV’s spoof of The Towering Inferno is mostly that the SCTV version opens with fewer scenes of the violently 1970s lobby of the doomed building. I mean, the Towering Inferno lobby looks great in a 1974 way. It’s only hard to watch because of thinking how it would look if it were a real building. I can’t see it without imaginaing what soul-destroying monstrosity it would have decayed by 1988, before its mid-90s renovation into something too lacking in personality even to be ugly.

Also startling: I remember nothing of this movie (The Big Bus) even though it seems like it should have been filling space whenever channels needed to have a movie throughout the early 80s. Yes, yes, Airplane! seems to have been as much spoof as the whole 70s Disaster Movie genre ever needed, in case we were taking it seriously, but between Airplane! and Airplane II! that’s only like four hours of programming. Even the rudimentary cable channels of the 80s needed as much as six hours before going over to “weird foreign cartoons” and “public domain Three Stooges shorts”.

Wikipedia describes the movie in fascinating detail. The plot summary makes it sound like the movie was trying about three times too hard and on all the wrong subjects. It comes out sounding whimsical in the way a gigantic iron woolly mammoth in a potato sack race across a field strewn with creme pies is: my metaphor is trying way too hard to cram in funny-flavored stuff.

Also, per Wikipedia: look at that movie poster. That’s your classic style, the kind of poster they don’t make anymore. Back then, movies were still mysterious things and we audiences just wouldn’t go to it if we didn’t have some proof that there were actors in the movie, as demonstrated by passport photos or, better, caricatured illustrations of the principal actors. Today movie poster style has moved on to showing abstract patterns of shadow and light, possibly featuring ruins where the villain blew up the plot. And that’s fine and stylish as far as it goes, but then you get surprises like last year where Star Trek Beyond turned out to be 105 minutes of kaleidoscope patterns and then a four-minute scene of Spock and McCoy trash-talking each other. Not saying it wasn’t good. I’m saying, back in the day, we’d get a big old grid of Actor Face staring out at us.

Then where I get permanently hung up by the Wikipedia article is in the sections about the movie’s production. Specifically this:

According to articles in 1976 issues of both Motor Trend magazine and the now defunct Bus World magazine

I’m sorry, I can’t finish that sentence or anything else, really. I’m assuming that Bus World was a trade publication for the large-person-road-transport industry. But it would be only eight percent stranger if it weren’t. What if it was a fan magazine? Don’t tell me there aren’t bus fans. There are fans of everything, including fandoms. What kind of journal was Bus World, though?

The difference between a trade journal and a fan magazine is in how they spin the articles. The point of a fan magazine is to follow up every bit of news with the question, “Will the industry ever manage to be more awesome than this?” The answer is, “No way, but we’re looking forward to them trying”. The point of a trade journal is to follow up every bit of news with the question, “Will the industry be able to recover from this?”. The answer is, “Conceivably, but likely not”. I don’t know that there are fan magazines for trade journals, but I hope there are. Also I hope there are trade journals for the fan magazine business, because the politics involved in everything would be awesome.

What do I hope the reality of the now-defunct Bus World was? I don’t know, and I’m too busy pondering that.

In short: Bus World.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped another five points today which we’re willing to blame on that Access World/London Metals Exchange/zinc warehousing scandal. It’s probably good for another couple of points off the Another Blog, Meanwhile index. Just you wait and see.

116

Percentages of Things Ruined by its Fans


For Statistics Saturday (really Sunday) I’d like to offer a useful little guide regarding things to be fannish of.

Thing Percent Ruined
Monty Python 73
Star Trek 78 or 79, whatever
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 60
Football 22.5
The United States of America 37.5
Flowers 8
Typography Conventions 50
Firefly 84
Saying It’s “Sinister” Whenever Someone Mentions Left-Handedness 98
Dvorak Keyboards 22
Douglas Adams 45
Silver-Age Comic Books 38
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