I’ve noticed that it’s become de rigueur to over-criticize everything (other than personal politics, mandates, foreign governments, or presidents not named Trump), particularly when it comes to the Sopranos prequel. People are so desperate to appear savvy and informed that they will over-analyze things, thereby nullifying the joy of discovery. You talk yourself into hating, in the futile hopes of besting the haters. You’re afraid to love something that someone else might hate.
To prove my point, I’m going to stick thoughts into your head that will make you hate your favorite things. Let’s start with The Sopranos!
1990 trading card with original 1977 painting by Arnold Sawyer.
Our universe will never again see a personality like Stan Lee. For the most part, that’s not a good thing. But one must understand and accept that Stan’s career was very much of its time. What he became in his final years was a calculated maneuver, the bookend of a carefully managed and marketed existence. I say that not out of judgment, but out of respect, however begrudging that respect might occasionally be. More than perhaps anyone else, Stan Lee was comic books.
Imagine if you will, a world parallel to our own, identical in many ways, disparate in others. Long story short, in this mirror universe, Bands I Useta Like was optioned by a major independent film studio, and made into a hit movie. It combined animation and live action, and because the producers had deep pockets, licensing songs for a decent soundtrack wasn’t a problem.
Whether I allowed the film to be produced at all was contingent upon the quality of the music choices. If they balked at a crucial song, or refused to include it, I would walk off the project. Which I did, and they replaced me on-screen with a real actor. Like I said, the movie was a hit.
The 2-disc soundtrack sold out of stores overnight. Even though it came packed in that shitty double jewel-box, which just winds up broken, on the floor of a car.
I won’t touch it. I don’t respond well to condescension. I could contract full-blown AIDS, “Dear White People” could have the cure, and I’d die happily, blissfully ignorant, broth bowl in hand, tumbling to the linoleum with a smile.
Any white person who would willfully watch something titled “Dear White People” is fearful of people who aren’t white. Period.
Previously, I remarked upon how those of us who were children in the 1980s “knew disappointment by name”, thanks to the deluge of new toy lines leaping at us from store shelves, most of them doomed to two-year lifespans and discount-bin futures. Companies were just beginning to learn how the lack of a Saturday morning cartoon could put an ugly dent in their profits. The hunt was on for the next best gimmick, the hook that would bring in the kids and establish the next He-Man or GI Joe. Not coincidentally, those lines were also infusing gimmicks circa 1987 in a losing battle to stay on top.
Transformers, arguably the decade’s most popular toys, were expensive to produce. The supply of repainted robots that comprised the line’s first few years had run dry, leaving Hasbro no choice but to design the toys themselves, an extra step that was not only also very expensive, but resulted in the far simpler Pretenders and Firecons. Few, if any, will argue that either was a high point in quality. For the uninitiated: Firecons used the same sparking mechanism as Doc’s DeLorean from Back To The Future, and that was a Happy Meal toy. (It was recalled because “kids” could chew off a rear tire and choke on it, not because of the sparks as you might assume. I have two of the worthless things.)
So it was that in 1987 Hasbro began to try some new tricks. Here is but one example of something they threw at the wall with the greatest effort, and try as it might, it just didn’t stick. Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I give you Air Raiders.