TV Shows, Video Games, and Movies, Oh My! Real Life Follows Culture

We are here because an avalanche of inspiration hit me all at once.

One of the very large boulders in that rock slide was A Geeky Gal’s 30-Day Video Game Challenge. In it, Megan challenged herself to spend every day in a month writing brief posts based on answers to a series of 30 questions. “I wanna do it,” I remember thinking, causing a swarm of blogging nostalgia to come rushing back.

So, on my old blog I starting answering the very first prompt:
What was your very first video game?

I won’t reveal the game yet, but it started as a standard short review. A few compliments and critiques. But then I started telling the story of how I started playing it, revealing dim memories of where and when I was. Some of those memories I hadn’t thought about in decades. I was in very literal tears.

The post was expanding into a full-blown retrospective, taking me days to write. And I discovered I was crafting something truly unique, because not many people tell the personal stories behind the video games. How, for example, they bonded with their best friend over Mario Kart or got beat time and again in Halo until they ‘got good.’

Each and every one of those questions is a potential gold mine of dialogue about the relationship between video games and real life. And so they will! I’ll be lucky if I finish two a month – more like 30-month video game challenge – but I think I’ll have the first one ready on Friday.

Furthermore, I realized a very similar concept of exploration applies to films, TV shows, and books.

Many of you may know that my favorite genre of media is science fiction. I am fascinated by concepts like Dyson Swarms, faster than light travel, and terraforming. But science fiction is a meta-genre, meaning there must be a sub-genre the story fits into.

And it’s time I admitted to both myself and the world three of my favorite sub-genres:

  • The slow-paced character drama (such as This Is Us)
  • The romantic comedy (such as The Vow)
  • The high-concept situational drama (such as Black Mirror)

Pure science fiction isn’t enough without a real person to share souls with for a while. It explains a lot, like why I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the best show ever made, and why I fall head-over-heels in love with characters. It also reveals why shows like This Is Us, Parenthood, and Gilmore Girls resonate with me, despite their demographic skewing mostly female, while shows aimed at men like Family Guy and The Office are difficult for me to get into. There’s nothing I love more than characterization, and so of course I’ll gravitate towards character-heavy genres.

Though, frankly, it’s a bit hard to find shows aimed exclusively at guys. Maybe there’s some truth to the stereotype that most men just like sports.

One thing people need to realize is that popular culture and real life are far more indistinguishable than you would initially believe. “Space may be the final frontier, but it’s filmed in a Hollywood basement” (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication), may technically be true, but people nonetheless invented flip phones and iPads, and perhaps one day transporters and holodecks. In the same way, characters guide culture in however small a manner, and I want to explore the ones who seem the most real.

So, next week I’m going to be looking at characters in three films from the romantic comedy genre. That’s right, next week is Rom-Com Week!

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I want to look at the main couples from three of my favorite romantic comedies.

While they each take some steps towards the unrealistic regarding plot, these three films are nonetheless masterpieces of relationship characterization, and I can’t wait to discuss them in detail.

I’ll probably make week-long themes a trend on Normal Happenings. I’d be open to recommendations in the comments on what topics you’d like hearing about. That will help me get to know each of you a little better. I’d also like to know what your favorite romantic comedy/tragedy is. Come on, even the most masculine guy has a soft spot for The Notebook or Titanic, right?

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Matthew // Normal Happenings

Matthew Estes. STL-based Blogger. Graphic Designer. Happily Married. One day I'll actually complete a book I'm happy with. I love pizza, video games, and using way too many ellipses...

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