Everyone who reads this blog is a nerd to some degree, obviously. What kind of nerd and how nerdy is something for you to sort out with your family and your god, so I won’t presume! We’ve all been influenced by popular culture, so my Question this week is: Which piece of popular culture has had the biggest influence on you?
This is a tough question, because we’re so inundated with pop culture, and a lot of it influences us, I would imagine. Is a movie a bigger influence than a television show? Is a book a bigger influence than a game? How hard is it to pinpoint the biggest influence? But we’re here at the blog to answer the tough questions, and so we shall!
For me, coming to true “nerd culture” kind of late in life, it’s difficult. The first television show I watched with any regularity was The Dukes of Hazzard, and that had an influence on me, as I still dig action-adventure stuff with a fair amount of humor, and I still like women in tight, short, cut-off jeans (I mean, duh). In movies, the biggest early influence was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I saw when I was 10. I had seen movies in the theaters before that (including Star Wars, naturally), but Raiders had a bigger influence on the kinds of movies I liked. In music, the first album I bought with my own money was Genesis’s 1983 self-titled album, and that made me a big progressive rock fan. The album itself isn’t that “progressive,” as Genesis was more pop by then, but I liked the album so much that I went back and bought their 1970s work, which is definitely prog-rock. Being a fan of prog led me to Marillion, which remains my favorite band (I just got their new album, and it’s pretty keen), so that was a big influence. One of the early science fiction books I read was Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, and Michael Slade’s Headhunter was an early horror book I read, and while I never got into those two genres as much as some people did, those two books had a good-sized influence on the kind of stuff I like.
Obviously, my life has been more influenced by comics than almost any other form of popular culture, even though I didn’t come to comics until relatively late in life. The biggest pop culture influence in my life has to be Batman #426, the first comic I ever bought. As I’ve written before, I was 17 when I bought the issue, which is usually past the time when kids get into comics. I still don’t know why it hooked me, but it did, and I haven’t stopped buying comics ever since (which is a huge storage problem that gets worse all the time, believe you me!). Batman #426 isn’t a particularly excellent comic – it’s fine, and it’s the “Death of Robin” story, so it’s important, but it’s not especially brilliant – but it did it for me. I’ve not only read thousands of comics since the fall of 1988, but I’ve gone to many conventions, worked for the biggest comics website for a while, and met many excellent people involved in comics over the years. It’s pretty clear that of all the pieces of pop culture I’ve consumed in my life, comics are the biggest part, and Batman #426 started it all. Blame Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo!!!!
What’s the biggest pop culture influence in your life? Don’t be shy!