We of the geek tribe all have those bits of media and creators that we love. And we mean really love. Sometimes, in polite conversations, we have to mitigate that love (if even just a tiny bit) so as not to be seen as total crazy people. Whether we are successful at this is perhaps best left to others to judge.
But for the moment, we’re going to throw our vanity to the metaphorical wind and gush a bit about those things we really really love.
I’m not ashamed to say that I adore Pacific Rim way more than it deserves. Unfortunately for me that defensible position is a symptom of a much more ridiculous obsession I have with all things giant robot. There’s a reason I will occasionally spend a whole weekend watching Gundam Wing episodes; why I secretly covet a horribly adapted anime called Teknoman; and why I occasionally watch episodes of Power Rangers unironically. This love oddly doesn’t extend to Transformers for some odd reason.
The dark secret of my giant robot addiction is that my absolute favorite version is probably the worst one. Voltron is an objectively bad show. It’s cut down from the original japanese version to the point that nearly none of the original plot remains, the ad breaks make it nearly unwatchable, and half of every episode is stock footage. By any reasonable metric I should despise this show but I love it so much you guys.
My very first fanfiction was Voltron fanfiction. I adore every overused trope, and I have the opening narration memorized. I even kind of like the terrible 90s CGI show Voltron: The Third Dimension in which every character looks like they were hastily assembled from Play-doh.
I literally do not care that every version of Voltron is objectively terrible. (Though Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender is actually passable, and I am so excited about that!)
That’s the really weird part about Voltron for me. I love this platonic ideal Voltron that only exists in my head. The version where the plot has nuance, and they don’t just form Voltron as soon as they fight the monster. The version that in my head would have not only sci-fi and fantasy elements, but even a little bit of horror and spy genres thrown in. I have a love for the potential of Voltron..and how nice my 23” Voltron collector figure set looks watching over my dresser:
(Full disclosure, this is the 3rd Voltron I’ve owned)
I am so very bad at this. I have a hard time hiding my love for bits of media and my filter for whether or not someone is actually interested in my plot summaries and long, long lists of book recommendations is pretty faulty. But. I can usually stop myself from talking too much about Robin Hood.
I love Robin Hood. I took a whole class on early Robin Hood stories and poems. I went to an academic conference all about Robin Hood stories. And I liked it. A lot.
The problem with Robin Hood is I don’t actually think I’ve encountered a modern retelling or movie that captures what’s so great about early Robin Hood. The Robin Hood most people are familiar with is the noble Robin Hood. The one who went to fight in the crusades, comes back to England and ends up in Sherwood Forest because his lands and titles have been taken from him. It’s a fine story. But it’s not the first one.
The oldest Robin Hood tales are about a yeoman (peasant) thief. Who makes problems for the nobility (not originally John) and is such trouble, so clever and sometimes so gallant, that the king eventually invites him to court. Robin accepts, spends some time at court, decides it’s not for him and returns to the forest. Where he belongs. He’s a folk hero, a trickster figure.
And what makes me sad about the modern Robin Hood is that he’s slumming it with Merry Men, instead of being one of them. The whole point of his adventures in the forest are to be able to leave the forest and be a noble again.
I love the Robin Hood who is actually one of the people.
And that was probably more information than you ever wanted about Robin Hood. See what I mean?
Totally Super 8. Yes, I mean that JJ Abrams film from about five(?) years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever pretended I don’t like it, but in general company I demure to a simplistic “I enjoyed it,”or some similar removed sentiment. For the sake of myself (and not bursting into tears in front of people) I will often protect just how dear and personal this one is to my heart.
Oh certainly I can pick a couple flaws here and there…
Is there only one young lady in the whole thing? Sure. But I think Alice (a mesmerizing Elle Fanning) is amazing, and is far far more than just a fancy for Joe (Joel Courtney). She’s her own real person with her own story and concerns beyond him, carrying her own young troubles he will never fully know.
And does it open with the loss of a wife and mother? It totally does. But wow do they at least lend that weight. I don’t think her death ever feels like a cast off. It’s not a weak, contrived plot motivation here. Her death matters because she mattered, and the entire film is partially about struggling with the sudden absence of her anchorage and the emotional bridge she provided.
And is the military the big, bad and evil for not much good reason? You betcha! But what else are you going to do with Noah Emmerich??
… but in spite of these small issues, I absolutely love nearly everything about the grander tapestry that is Super 8. And if given leeway to do so, I will gush about it.
I love the music, and the interspersed moments of stillness and solitude.
I love the gentle humor of it.
I love the relationship of Joe and his father. The gulf between them. The understated but no less painful fundamental misunderstandings that keep them apart. And I appreciate how distinct and fully formed an individual Jack (Kyle MacLachlan) is throughout, despite this not quite being his story.
I love that the children feel and behave like children. Not weirdly wise-and-knowing adult mouthpieces shunted into childrens’ bodies so they can outsmart and outfeel the tragically ignorant grown-ups.
I love that Joe and Alice in particular are never imbued with the profound wisdom to speak truth to their parents. By the end, they really are just hurting children, and the adults come to their own revelations and understandings, thank you very much.
And above all else I love that this film is absolutely never about the alien (which is what I expected when I saw this the first time in the theater.) Instead it’s an intimate portrait of being an introverted, creative child. It almost effortlessly captures the joy and friendships and pain and loneliness and simple, quiet dramas. It personifies that strange contradiction of being young and feeling alone, despite never really being alone.
I had a few different options for this one that were floating around and about in my brain. I had considered talking about anime but then realized that, while I do still love and cherish a handful of very specific anime series, my love for it as a whole has waned over the years.
I thought about Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. I know all the characters and ins and outs of the many plots by heart, and have since I was in elementary school. But I was not sure if that was the result of purposeful downplaying or a simple matter of that series is not one that comes up in conversation with any amount of frequency (even though I work in a book shop).
And then I realized the answer was rather obvious.
And that answer, is Star Wars.
Of course it was going to be Star Wars. Now, let’s be clear here, I make no secret AT ALL of my love for Star Wars. I really and truly do not. I wear that very clearly on my chest and my sleeve and any damn place I can, if I’m being perfectly honest.
While I make no secret of my love for of a galaxy far, far away I do tend to scale back at least a bit (though often more) on a full scale deluge of love and information when I’m outside my closest knot of friends. They are wonderful and have tolerated many a rant or long-winded explanation about the extended and canonical universes. (Let’s talk about the lycanthropic life cycle of the Codru-Ji, shall we? Or the beautifully tragic and heroic figure that is Gaeriel Captison?)
But no matter how much I love Star Wars I am also very much aware that not everyone wishes to know the specific details of Ithorian culture and why I love it and how the fact that most of it is no longer canon and packed off into the Legends file make me more than a little bit sad. Most people don’t want to hear my long and rather extended and mournful Anakin Solo ordeal (though if you are interested you can read it, right here) or discuss the finer points of why Mara Jade should absolutely be brought over into the new canon.
I tend to hold these things back. I don’t want to scare people. Especially people who are sharing a love of Star Wars with me! So I try to keep things low key.
At least at first.