}

Friday, December 30, 2016

Arthur Answers, Part 5: Pop culture

Today’s questions from Roger Green are all related to pop culture. First up:

Your favorite TV shows, movies, albums – however many you want.

I’ve thought about this over the week and a half since the most recent post in this series, and I had a LOT of trouble with it: At any given time, I may only have a couple “favourites”, and the list changes constantly. Also, my list of favourites is entirely dependent on the mood I’m in at the time, how tired I am, all sorts of things like that. And if that wasn’t complicating enough, if I don’t hear a song (for example) for a long time, I tend to forget about it until it pops up somewhere and I suddenly remember how much I once loved it.

So, these are really just sort of random lists in no particular order other than the order; ranking them would be too difficult, and, anyway, pointless since it will change sooner rather than later.

TV shows: I don’t have any true favourites at the moment, however, my favourite programmes tend to be ones about home improvement/renovation. This began way back in 1979 when This Old House debuted on PBS. Over the years, I’ve learned a LOT of useful things from those shows that helped me when we were renovating our previous house, and with routine projects ever since.

So, shows I currently enjoy are Homes Under the Hammer, a BBC programme about people who buys British houses at auction and do them up; various Grand Designs programmes, various programmes from Mike Holmes, among others. I’ve enjoyed all of the Star Trek TV series over the years, and still watch re-runs sometimes. In the past, I’ve enjoyed public affairs programmes, but there aren’t any decent New Zealand ones at the moment, and we don’t get American ones (assuming there are any these days—how would I know?), and I also enjoy documentaries. But the truth is, apart from the evening news, I really don’t watch much TV anymore.

Movies: We hardly ever go to the movies any more—maybe once or twice a year. Most recently it was Rogue One, which we both enjoyed. My favourite movies have been Star Wars (the original three and the most recent; I didn’t care for the episodes one through three), many of the Star Trek movies (though I have mixed feeling about the reboot films). I enjoy films that are a bit quirky, like the New Zealand film, What We Do In The Shadows. I like some blockbusters, others less so (I didn’t like Avatar, for example). Among old movies, I enjoyed High Noon, Citizen Kane, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s A Wonderful Life, Wizard of Oz, various old movie musicals, cheesy horror and science fiction films of the 1950s, and more. In general, movies don’t need to be anything more than entertaining for me to enjoy them—they don’t have to be great art or whatever.

Albums: This is much easier for me because I listen to music all the time. In fact, it was TOO easy, so I limited it to full albums (no EPs or singles released as such), and also only albums I now have in digital format; I’ve lost and not replaced many vinyl LPs, and a few CDs that I ripped to digital files aren’t included because they’re not in my iTunes (most likely due to computer changes over the years). This is a mixed bag, but they’re all things I’d sit and listen two from start to finish.

First, some greatest hits albums I played constantly, and that led me to like the artists and buy more of their music: BowieChangesOne and BowieChangesTwo by David Bowie; Pop! The First 20 Hits by erasure; Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975; Greatest Hits by Linda Ronstadt, Hot Rocks 1964-1971 by The Rolling Stones, and others.

Among other albums I liked: Boston Boston: My Life In The Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne; Boys In The Trees by Carly Simon; Horzon Carpenters, Let It Flow by Dave Mason; Scary Monsters by David Bowie; Violator by Depeche Mode; Dusty in Memphis by Dusty Springfield; Hotel California and The Long Run by The Eagles; A New World Record and Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra; The Innocents, i say i say i say and Loveboat by erasure; At Last! By Eta James; Savage by Eurythmics; Einzelhaft by Falco; Fleetwood Mac and Rumours by Fleetwood Mac; Penthouse and Pavement and The Luxury Gap by Heaven 17; Earth by Jefferson Starship; Escape and Infinity by Journey; Autobahn and Computer World by Kraftwerk; Hasten Down The Wind, Prisoner In Disguise, and Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt, also What’s New; Thriller by Michael Jackson; With Sympathy by Ministry; This is the Moody Blues and Long Distance Voyager by The Moody Blues; Polysaturated by Nesian Mystik; Substance by New Order; History of Modern by OMD; Very by Pet Shop Boys; Automatic For The People and Out Of Time by R.E.M.; Cornerstone, Pieces of Eight, and Paradise Theatre by Styx; Even In The Quietest Moments and Breakfast in America by Supertramp; Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears.

See? That was too easy.

Roger also asked in a later question:

OK, your reaction to the death of George Michael. The Boston Globe wrote George Michael’s work had a unique, profound effect on LGBTQ people: "This year has not just been a year in which our beloved celebrities have died, but it’s been a year in which LGBTQ people of a certain age have lost those who helped us come out and live authentic lives."

I answered this in a special post that I was already working on when Roger posted his question. But I’d I wanted to add some specific comments on role models and icons for young LGBT people: They are vital in TV shows, movies, and pop music so young LGBT people will experience them. That’s because we need to see the reality of our lives reflected, and because we need to see people like us succeeding and being visible. This is especially important in places where being openly gay, whether in rural areas or in the Southern USA, or in some country that puts people to death for being gay. To change the world, people first have to be happy within their own skin. Role models in pop culture are an important, even vital, part of that, and they matter.

There’s one more post in this series.

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