by Beau Smith
Pop culture is a strange thing. It stands as a timeline for a lot of us that enjoy it; perhaps we enjoy it too much at times. It can tend to take away our attention from more important things such as family, work, and such. I guess moderation is the secret to controlling anything, we’ve just got to keep that in mind when diving into the pop culture pool.
As technology has grown so has pop culture. You can scan history and see that with the invention of radio and especially television, our interest in pop culture has exploded as well. Television was truly the master of pop culture for quite a while, and that grip still remains strong, but never have we seen a power change happen so quickly and continue to move at warp speed as we have with the internet and the devices that transport it.
It’s also increased our desire to have not only pop culture, but information in general get to us faster and faster. We can no longer wait years, we want it yesterday. I believe that’s why the space program has lost its allure, it takes too long for it to happen. When the science talks about it taking us decades to get to Mars, everyone loses interest. If it can’t happen now, they don’t care. They move on to something else.
I thought about the pop culture timeline the other day when reading another one of those “Greatest Songs Of All Times” lists. There always seems to be one of those lists for just about everything under the sun; sports, music, TV, movies, video games, etc. They used to be relevant, but aren’t anymore.
The reason being that the people who make up these lists usually don’t take them back any further than their own memory of 20 years. The 20 year mark seems to be the pop culture point where folks get nostalgic about their own life and “The Good Old Days.” I’ve been as guilty as anyone about it. As I mentioned before, pop culture and technology have grown, but the lists have not. Since these lists aren’t going to go away anytime soon, I figured we need to be smarter and control them to where they are more relevant. I suggest breaking them down to decades, EX: “Best Comic Books Of The 1950s”, “Greatest Quarterbacks Of The 1960s”, Greatest Television Shows Of The 1970s”; you see what I’m suggesting.
The reason for this is so truly deserving items won’t be overlooked and respect will be paid. That way if people want to put Lady Gaga on “The Greatest Singers Of This Decade” I can easily ignore it because she didn’t bump The Rolling Stones off the list because she’s current.
Rules, tastes, and the way pop culture is presented change with time, confining the list to decades can help and at the same time broaden the horizons of those with only 20 years worth of memories. In sports, you just cannot say Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Johnny Unitas because the rules of the game and the game itself have changed too much. It’s not fair for Brady or Unitas. The same pertains to comparing Jim Lee with Jack Kirby; tastes have changed.
I think the reasons why there aren’t many – if any – lists confined by decades is that writers are too lazy to do the leg work. I know I am, or that I just don’t care about lists that step out of my personal tastes. Then again, I’m a narrow-minded guy and perhaps will always be. That’s no reason for you to get cheated out of a good pop culture list.
Just so you’ll know, on my personal “Best Comic Books Of The 1960s”, the number 1 through number 3 spots would be held by Amazing Spider-Man #31, #32 and #33. I believe this storyline sums the character of Spider-Man/Peter Parker up perfectly. I still get goose bumps when I read this story. To be very honest with you, I think those three issues are the best comic book stories ever, but then I’d be stepping out of the proper decade.
Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy reading over these lists, just not as much as I once did. I feel that they need a little adjusting, that’s all. The reason I always enjoyed them is it was a great way for me to discover something that I may have missed that I would truly enjoy.
Something I like to see is when comic book creators, musicians, actors, artists, sports figures, make their lists. If it’s someone whose work I enjoy, it opens up a whole new path for me to walk down and maybe find something that will entertain me. After all, when it comes down to it, it IS all about me (At least in my twisted little brain.).
As a comic book creator, I’m always interested in what comic books are on reader’s “Best Of List”. I ask that question a lot when I’m doing a convention or store signing. Again, I personally discover all kinds of new comics and graphic novels to read that way. I’ve always been one to push older and more obscure comic books to younger readers so that they can possibly enjoy oddball comics as much as I have. By oddball I’m talking about such books as M.A.R.S. Patrol, Sky Pilot: The Fighting Missionary Of The Far North, The Adventures Of The Bee-Man In Double Dare Adventures and Butt Riley In Crime Does Not Pay Comics. These types of comics are fun and always a great way to spend convention or internet time hunting down.
So after reading this column, I hope you’re inspired to share with the rest of us your thoughts on “Best Of Lists” or if nothing else, list a few of your all-time favorite comics and pop culture items. You’ll give the rest of us something to hunt for or agree on.
Thanks for your time on this.
Your list making amigo,
The Flying Fist Ranch