AVGN the Movie: The Film Event of Our Generation

No. That was not hyperbole.

James Rolfe, aka, the Angry Video Game Nerd, encompasses two of the biggest influences of my generation of 20-30 somethings: video games and the internet. (with hip-hop culture rounding out the triumvirate of my generation’s biggest cultural influences).  And for the last eight years, he and his friend and writing partner Kevin Finn have been working on a full-length feature film for Rolfe’s online persona and, yes, I truly believe it to be the movie event of my generation.

Don’t believe me? Here is a short list of the reasons why!

  • Video Games & Gaming Culture: Video games have, since the beginning, had many myths and legends associated with them. The movie discusses all the little secrets that used to appear in Atari games (initials and easter eggs), but even later games like Mortal Kombat, Doom, Tomb Raider, and Killer Instinct all had their own lore associated with them . These little mysteries entered into gaming culture so much that secrets in games are commonplace and expected now. Myths about how games are created and their back stories are just as compelling; from how Pac-Man got his name (anyone believe Scott Pilgrim’s explanation?) how Rock-Man became Mega-Man, we just eat these legends up. The AVGN movie explores a real game legend with a fantastical explanation. It’s the kind of stuff the internet would run with in this day and age! And on that topic…
  • Internet & YouTube Culture: The only cultural aspect that has impacted my generation more than video gaming would be the internet. People make their entire careers as internet personalities (James Rolfe being one of the best and most successful) and legions of fans follow them, often doing just what they are begged not to do. The Angry Video Game Nerd even points out in “Nintendo Classics Re-Revisited” that people bought and played Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after he expressly told them not to. The whole premise of the film is that negative press from the right personality can bring positive results. Both from a slightly sleazy game publisher and from an altruistic scientist. It’s an interesting parallel and sums up how the internet community can have profound impact on course of popular culture.
  • The Movies of Our Youth: For those in my generation, the happy-go-lucky 20-30 somethings out there, we grew up with cheesy horror movies, giant monster movies, goofy cartoons, and practical effects (guys in suits, miniature sets, puppets, blue screen effects, etc.) James Rolfe is a filmmaker first and he makes movies the way he likes them. With…guys in suits, miniature sets, puppets, and blue screen effects… I think even if he’d managed to raise 10 million dollars we’d still see a model van explode in a spark-filled firecracker explosion and not a real van flip and burn before bursting into a gasoline bomb. Death Mwauthzyx would always be a home-made suit…never a CGI model. It’s just like the movies and afternoon cartoons we all grew up with; summed up in one brilliant two hour spectacle.

I don’t think it’s necessary to go into the plot or characters. I won’t spoil it and it’s actually got too much going on to sum up in a few sentences. But suffice it to say I think James Rolfe captured the entire culture of 25-35 year olds in a compelling and incredibly hilarious movie, made with love and affection for that culture AND love and affection for his fans. Furthermore it still feels like an AVGN episode. Yes it’s bigger, more characters, expanded world…but it is still his world and has his tone.

James Rolfe has declared a sequel isn’t likely. While I’d love to see another expanded look at the AVGN’s life I can see why and I’m looking forward to seeing what other, new creative ideas he has. Until then I know I’ll enjoy revisiting all things AVGN for a while to come. It truly takes me back to the past and exemplifies what’s great (and delightfully bad) about the cultural impacts of my generation in the best way possible.

Cinemassacre website

Buy the movie!

Weird Al and the Cycle of Pop Culture

Off The Top of My Head

With the release of a brand new Weird Al album this week, I got to thinking about my personal history with the Great Yankovic’s music and noticed an alarming trend….

When I was a kid I listened to a lot of Disney albums and dinosaur-centered kids’ records. The first album from a specific musical artist I ever received was literally a WEIRD one. An older kid whose mom was friends with my mom gave me my first Weird Al album. And it was a doozy. Dare to Be Stupid.

As a six year old I did know some popular music. I of course knew Michael Jackson, some Madonna, the Bangles “Walk like an Egyptian,” for some reason “Cruel Summer” by Bannanrama sticks in my memory from this era. But I didn’t know much beyond that. The only song I recognized at all from the Dare to be Stupid was the Madonna cover “Like a Surgeon.” I knew “Like a Virgin” from the radio, however to be honest I listened to the Weird Al album so often I still can’t hear the intro to Madonna’s original without singing the lyrics to Yankovic’s parody.

Of the rest of the songs on the album I only vaguely knew “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” so I knew the tune, but I couldn’t even define “parody” well enough to realize Weird Al was lampooning a popular song. The rest might as well have ALL be Al-originals. I didn’t know Huey Lewis beyond Back to the Future and “Lola” was unknown to me but I sure knew Star Wars well enough for Al’s “Yoda” to resonate.

I was an instant fan, whether I knew the original artists or their songs or not.

A couple years later I received Polka Party and the self-titled album. Off this album I knew NONE of the original popular songs but I still know every word to the Al parody, even though I still don’t know what some of the originals ARE. Off of the self-titled, I only recognized the Joan Jett cover of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” well enough to know “I Love Rocky Road” was indeed a parody of it. Though these albums cover artist from James Brown, and Tom Petty, to Queen, and Mick Jagger I only knew Al.

For a while I forgot Weird Al as a novelty of my youth until I rediscovered him in middle school. I was now more familiar with popular music so when I found old used tapes of Even Worse and In 3D I recognized the songs as older hits. “Bad” and “Fat” were both such big hits they transcended lack of knowledge of Al or Michael Jackson. I also knew the “I Think I’m a Clone Now” track from the cover of “I think We’re Alone Now.” From In 3d Eat it was the huge hit, another I recognized from Michael Jackson, and I recognized a lot of the oldies in “Polkas on 45.” It was nice to know a lot of the music Al was lampooning and it added to the parody as you could see how he changed the song and used the original artist’s music to create a whole new song.

As a teenager I knew the modern popular music of course so when I got Off the Deep End, Alapalooza, and Bad Hair Day, nearly every parodied song I heard I had heard the ORIGINAL first. Often over and over. It wasn’t until this era when I personally realized that, of course, Al parodied the BIGGEST hits of a few years of music. Nirvana, Coolio, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, very well known to me at the time, Al’s tracks were just as great (if not greater) and knowing the newer songs as well as I did made the Al-bums even more enjoyable.

Then something strange happened… Right around Running With Scissors I started to lose touch with popular music again. I knew the songs he was parodying but the original lyrics no longer fought for control in my brain when I heard the Al version. By the time Poodlehat and Straight out of Lynwood arrived I knew OF the songs but can honestly say I never heard “Confessions” or “Ridin” before the Al parodies. Though I did know American Idiot it was the only one I could have named the original title of off of Lynwood.

When Alpocalypse came out I was six years old again. Trying to figure out which of the tracks were parodies and which were Al originals. The additional fallout to this is while walking around whistling “Party in the CIA” to the rest of the world I was jamming to Miley Cyrus…

It’s a strange circle of pop culture life. From not knowing the originals and only know Al’s parodies, to knowing a bit of the originals but more of Al’s, to knowing the originals well AND Al’s, to knowing Al’s parodies better than the originals, and back to ONLY knowing the Weird Al tracks.

It speaks to Al’s longevity and versatility that he has had a successful music career that spans nearly my entire life thus far.

 

I’m eagerly awaiting Al’s latest offering, “Mandatory Fun” though to be honest, even if the track list HAD been leaked, it wouldn’t have mattered…I wouldn’t know the popular originals anyway!

5 Reasons You Should Subscribe to Entertainment Weekly

It’s one of my rituals. Every Friday night I sit in my recliner with a bottle of water and my Entertainment Weekly. I hate and love double issues because they postpone the next issue, and it’s the only magazine I have consistently subscribed to. So, why is it so great? In an age where people don’t have time to sit and read, it’s a perfect fit.

  1. It’s pop-culture news. EW is not a gossip magazine. Most times, you won’t see unappealing photos of someone in a bathing suit or read crap about baby daddies. There are real articles, interviews, and info on what happened that week.
  2. Quickly catch up on what you missed. In my work kitchen the news is on all day. I stay current on big events, but I want to know what movies did well and what’s coming up. It’s a fast read. I can read the entire magazine in 20-30 minutes. It’s like a crash course in entertainment.
  3. It’s funny. I love the Bullseye section and the Sound Bites. There are other columns and little boxes that spotlight the week’s funniest or most horrible moments. In some, they poke fun of or praise a celebrity in a tactful, fun way. It’s more than bashing; it’s clever, fun, and witty.
  4. Finding new stuff. I have to thank EW for The Hunger Games trilogy, Bates Motel, and calendars I use to plan by weekend and DVRd movies and shows. Without the magazine, I would have no idea these things existed, and when what was coming out.
  5. Learning things about your favorite people and things. I love reading interviews with my favorite celebs or skimming a review on something I’m uncertain about. The magazine is a great way to decide to purchase or watch.

As with everything, there are a few things they lack. They have failed to mention Psych recently and sometimes focus too heavily on certain subjects. That aside, it’s a wonderful edition to the weekend, and I hope you will find the time to check it out. If you love movies, TV, music, and books, it’s really the only magazine to have in the house.

15 Signs of a Horror Movie Fan



You know you’re a horror movie fan if…

  1. You conceal “weapons” throughout your home. I.e.: knitting needles, table lamps, hammers, screw drivers, vases, ball bats, kitchen knives, ink pens and hard-back books.
  2. You hear a strange noise so you grab a weapon and investigate.
  3. Once investigating, you never think to say, “Hello, is anyone there?”
  4. A strange noise isn’t an intruder, it’s a ghost.
  5. Nothing is weird or unexplained, it’s always a poltergeist.
  6. You have an evacuation plan for every building you enter in case of a zombie apocalypse.
  7. You have a plan and supplies, and you will survive the zombie apocalypse.
  8. When swimming in a lake or ocean, you can’t help but think something will grab your feet or legs at any moment.
  9. You feel compelled to howl at a full moon.
  10. Dolls creep you out, and you may be scared of clowns or leprechauns.
  11. Vampires are hot, and you secretly want to be one.
  12. More importantly, you felt that way before the Twilight series.
  13. You watch slasher movies to relax and boost your mood after a tough day at work or school.
  14. You were voted, “Final girl or guy” in class or at work.
  15. Last, but not least… Your child wakes up from sleep walking. The next morning there are scratches on his/her arm. Your first theory… demonic possession.

— From the mind and experiences of RP