By Marc Silvestri
“And on the first day, God created comics and video games and said: “F#&% the rest of the week, this s#@* rocks””!
- Face psalms 17:13
Let me start by just saying I think it’s hysterical that today being a geek is pretty damn close to being one of the cool kids. And considering that not too long ago being labeled a geek was an absolute guarantee of getting absolutely no play – even with your self – that being a geek and being “pretty close” to cool is f#@&ing heroic levels of progress in my book. In fact, one could argue that our embossed Mr. Spock 35th anniversary commemorative drinking cups have runneth over, flowed out across the globe, and drowned the whole of it in geek culture! So congrats to us for finally gettin’ some! Hell, if we were clothes, geek would be the new black!
There, now that we feel better about ourselves, to the point. This is a pop/geek culture blog with a difference because it’s the people’s blog, your blog (and when I say your blog I mean my blog because if you post something back that I don’t like I’ll just delete you – this is how powerful I have become). Here we’re all free to talk about stuff that back in the day would make even your parents too embarrassed to sit with you in the school lunchroom (But remember, things are different now, we are the cool table)!
In this, your/my blog we’re gonna talk about all kinds of stuff related to the things we’ve always loved that in many cases the rest of the world is just now catching on to. Sometimes I’ll just talk about crap that I feel like talking about, and sometimes crap that you guys want to talk about (just toss me some ideas). And for those of you out there that thought you were clicking onto a porn site and don’t know who I am, I’m a comic artist. A comic artist that in his spare time owns a comic publishing company and makes movies and TV shows and video games. The company is called Top Cow (don’t ask) and its filled with the best peeps in the biz. So…
My buddy Tom (who’s very life hangs in the balance on how well this site does) was at Top Cow filming God knows what for MTV GEEK! and we started talking about s#*t only God knows the answer to. S#*t like why the coffee at the gas station across the street tastes better than The Coffee Bean next door and why the coolest kid on your flat screen, MTV, is launching a new site to now cater to us geeks. We started getting deep as to why this was happening and quickly got bored so we started talking about movies and comics and music instead. Then the conversation drifted to the future of entertainment, what it would be, and how we were all going to experience it. And how through social networks we’re all going to continue to experience said entertainment together, at the same time, and on a massive scale. I know what you’re thinking: Oooo, these dudes are the smartest guys in the room (we were in fact the only guys in the room so you would be correct).
About a week later Tom and I talked about me doing a blog for the new site, which you are now enjoying. When I started thinking about what I was going to write I remembered our conversation from the week before about the future. Thinking about the future got me thinking about the past and about MTV and how I thought it was the first large scale experience in social networking. Allow me to explain (or don’t, but remember it’s my blog).
I was in the gooey center of the ideal demographic when MTV premiered on cable back in 1981. I was pretty young (I was born in 1959 and by my math that means I turned 37 this last March – my blog, remember?) and like my pals was looking for something to relate to and talk about while drinking cheap beer. It was edgy, parents hated it, it was creating juvenile delinquents out of former Catholic school kids, and it was primitive as all hell (which made it even cooler).
Like American bandstand before it, MTV became a touchstone for youthful rebellion. Only now it was a whole (cable) network and it was ours! We talked about it, we molded it, and we controlled it, almost as much as it controlled us. And even though we couldn’t interact with it directly it became a cultural hub that brought local groups of kids together, kids that were very aware of being part of a larger group of like-minded miscreants (meaning everybody our age). MTV was a social network, arguably the biggest connection for an increasingly detached generation since the invention of the telephone. We all could listen to different music on different radio stations but there was only one place for music videos. And that brought a common thread to a diverse music crowd. MTV and it’s audience became a pop culture snake that ate it’s own tail and everybody that mattered was happy about it… Well, almost everybody.
Like any new scary technology there was a lot of kicking and screaming by people both inside and outside of the music industry. Remember, “Video Killed The Radio Star”. But not so fast, to the rest of us, the music now had a face and not just a face in still photos staring back from record jackets and the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. We could now point at Billy Squire and how retarded he looked in those tight pants. The best videos made you feel something along with the music and made the experience that much more. The worst ones made you think of nothing but bad pants. Sadly, in the early days, the latter was easier to find in rotation. Though now that I think of it, even bad pants sometimes created a video star (take a bow Mr. Hammer)!
Like most things pop culture some thrived in the new medium and some failed. Wow your music sucks and your ugly? Bummer. Conversely, some artists needed videos. MTV of course also gave birth to an entirely new animal: The music video director. Some of these auteurs are amazing artists and their vision has changed the look of TV and film forever. Some of them of course should never have been introduced to a camera. But that holds true with all art (this will be the subject of a future blog btw). It was also weird to not be a fan of someone’s music but still wanting to see a kick-ass video they made. What a dichotomy! I can’t really think of any other art form other than music videos where this odd fusion happened. I guess if you were a groupie back in the 1700’s you could dig on Mozart’s music but still think he was a tool for having a bad powdered wig. I dunno.
Having no cosmic meaning whatsoever but important to me anyway, MTV premiered the same year I became a professional comic artist. My point being that the new visual art form MTV was threatening world peace with, had a huge impact on my growing desire to express the ideas that were in my head. Some of the stuff on the network was mind-shredding in its audacity to do something never seen before. That audacity still survives today btw – no I’m not talking about Jersey Shore (the show is pretty funny though). It was like the reverse-engineered version of when “talkies” hit the movie industry.
Look, despite what you might think, I’m not at the moment sucking on the nourishing teat that is MTV (trust me, they ain’t payin’ me here) it’s just that back then we didn’t have the options we do now to bond with others that share an interest in pop culture. Yeah, maybe it’s owned by peeps that have more money than God (God doesn’t need money, pysche!) but that’s irrelevant to be honest. What’s relevant is that as a guy who lives to be creative and loves art and music, 1981 was a pretty big deal.
I also want to suck the nourishing te…I mean give props to MTV for recognizing the need to service us geeks. Because the dirty little secret that has finally allowed us to eat lunch at the cool-kids table is that we are indeed tastemakers and the s#&% we like can move cultural mountains.
So anyway, thanks for clicking away from sites not safe for work and checking out the blog. Like I mentioned earlier, we’ll be talking all things pop/geek culture so in the near future grab a cheap beer (kids if you’re under age, grab one of your dads beers) and get on the boards. Hey it’s a social network, lets get buzzed and shoot some s#&%…together.
Make cookies not war.
Marc Silvestri was born in 1959 on Easter Sunday, coincidentally on the same day his mother gave birth to him. He’s been in the comic business his entire adult life and in 1993 started his own company, Top Cow Productions. Marc spends his days making crap up for comics, movies, TV, and video games. And is proud to now add professional blogger to his resume. He also likes you just the way you are.