Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Whatever happened to 'It's not cool if your dad does it'?-Part 2 of 37

faceOkay so I am obsessed with the Hot Topic robot hoodie model guy because I think he's a reflection of who Hot Topic thinks their market is. But when it comes to old Transformers t-shirts I think the target demographic skews a bit older than this person, who looks to be early to mid twenties. I know a ton of Transformer fans in their twenties and from experience I can tell you that generation of fan mocks and ridicules the '84-'86 characters to no end. I question the nostalgic bond that Hot Topic thinks exists between Generation Y and robot characters who stopped appearing in cartoons well before they were even born. Yet Hot Topic is selling more and more of these G1 themed shirts as evidenced by the waves of new product coming out. So who is buying them if not the twentysomething Transformer fans (who actually like Beast Wars instead of first gen TFs)?

I'll tell you who-it's emo kids who were born well after the point when Optimus Prime died the first time or when Megatron as a grey robot with a Walther P-38 alt mode ceased to exist. But why? At first it seems there's no logical explanation for why teens who grew up playing with Pokemons are wearing their dad's robot nostalgia. So why would emo Hot Topic guy with his crooked eyeball and his black eyeliner (or others of his generation) wear this stuff? There is a reason for this insanity and it's a theory I call "age depression".

Have you heard of age compression? It's a trend where children stop playing with toys at younger ages than the generations of children before them. Essentially it's little kids growing up quicker. I have a theory that there's a flip side to the age compression phenomena where these kids who missed out on playing with toys regress in their twenties to a childlike state where they wear shirts with toys on them. They're depressed that they missed out on Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles but since fuckin' Hot Topic doesn't have shirts of those toys in adult small the emotionals with age depression just buy up the next best thing. A sign of age COMpression is an eight year old who would rather play video games. A sign of age DEpression is a twenty eight year old wearing a shirt that makes his chest look like Soundwave. Age depression is Gen Y kids hijacking the nostalgia of their grandfathers and wearing it on their hoodies. To which I say, 'Screw you, Gen Y! Get your own childhoods!'

dumbbabyWhile age depression has me rolling my eyes and cursing my younger cousins, age compression is also a source of angst and agony for me. What really pisses me off is how Hot Topic also sells Transformer clothes to babies. These kids are not 'true fans' of Transformers and shouldn't be allowed to wear G1 designs either! Nothing pisses me off more than nostalgic babies who don't even know how to SAY Optimus Prime because they can't talk! To which I say 'Screw you, babies! I'm tired of you jerks pissing all over my childhood!'

End of Part 2

Next time: Where are teh Orbots underwears.


Anonymous said...

What I think is funny is that I've now experienced this trend from both angles. When I was in high school and I kept seeing stuff like School House Rocks, H.R. Puff 'n' Stuff, and Speed Racer all over, and kids who didn't have the foggiest what the hell it was were buying all kinds of stuff because it was kitsch or what-have-you. The next thing you knew there were Rocky and Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle and Brady Bunch movies, and stuff.

Now it's the 80's turn, and as glad as I am to have a bunch of swag to waste my money on, I'd hate to think about all the kids who buy right into it when in reality they don't even like the stuff. I'm super psyched about the pudgy deformed G1 transformer pvcs that are coming out (like the star wars, and now marvel) but what kid who these are the target audience for even knows what the hell they are?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Whoa have I ever been there! Back in 1998 I was in Korea and the anime stores were all heavy into Evangelion. I remember the Bandai model kits were in all the stores along with all the other merchendising. There were video games , posters, wall scrolls, bootlegs VCDs and all sorts of stuff in all the shops. I hadn't gotten into the cartoon yet and based on the character designs alone I thought those were some really ugly looking robots. I was turned off by the look of the show and it wasn't until a friend had an Evangelion marathon in his room that I got hooked. It was funny because I remember thinking I would never be interested in robots that were so ugly. From my prematurely judgemental perspective the Eva craze made little sense.

I'm surprised I was that way at all because as a kid I was willing to give anything a try. Shows with robot lions that roared or plant people that turned into cars were all worth checking out. Somewhere along the way I became closed minded, which some might call developing a sense of taste or refining one's interests or whatever. It sucks and I wish I was more open to new ideas instead of being so locked into my mindset of what makes a good robot or science fiction show.

I feel a little bad for kids nowadays who have a ton of catching up to do if they want to jump in on an existing fandom. I think I understand why companies try to reinvent their characters to make them more accessible to new fans. It was a little overwhelming to see Thor had over 350 issues of comics when I was a kid. It gave me a sense of how much came before that I didn't know about. It also made the character seem old like it was my dad's era of comics and I could never catch up.

What Lucas did with the Star Wars prequels was pretty smart in that it gave new generations an entry point to jump in on. It made it easy for new fans to have a part of the saga that was their own. What Marvel does when they retcon their characters' stories is wrong because it undoes much of what makes them who they are.

My biggest problem with Marvel is when they mess with characters' deaths like Bucky or Gwen Stacy or even Peter Parker in that weird 'Other' story. Heck even in Star Wars they can't bring back dead people all the way. Why Marvel does it is beyond me. I guess they want new fans to feel like ther are fresh starting points in the comics but all it does is make the long term fans' heads spin.

Anonymous said...

Comics are sort of between a rock and a hard place with new fans. I definitely felt the same way when I started collecting back in '88. There were like 250 issues of the Uncanny X-Men to catch up on, and in the 80's there were no trades.

At least with movies, there are only so many in a series and they are easier to come by, though I agree that (as much as I can't get into them) the prequels are great for younger fans.

I also dug the new version of the He-Man cartoon if only because at the end of the day it was pretty faithful to the original show and toy line, just with a no attention span format.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.