Hey guys! How’s it going? I’m doing okay. I’m super excited for tomorrow. I can’t say why right now, but I’m really excited for tomorrow. But that’s not what I came on here to talk about today. I’ve been thinking about Fandom a lot lately and how it’s changed from when I was a kid. And it really has changed. So that’s what I wanted to talk about here. What Fandom was like when I was a kid, growing up here in Canada in the ’90s and 2000’s and what Fandom is like now, not just for kids who are growing up in the 2010’s and soon to be the 2020’s, but for people like me who are adults now in 2019. And I’m going to go through each of the categories that I like to talk about here on the blog: video games, movies, TV shows, and comic books. So let’s get into it.
Video Games: Then and Now
So as you know I was born in December of 1986 and my first memories were of my parents bringing my younger sister home from the hospital after she was born, and the same day, me getting Teddy Ruxpin in January 1990. So every game that I played, movie or TV show that I watched, and comic book that I read all happened in the ’90s. I don’t have any memories from December 1986 to January 1990, or if I do they’re very vague or of stuff that happened to me in the hospital. So even though my first real memory didn’t happen until 1990, video game playing was pretty much the same until the mid-2000’s for me and I played games from as early as Super Mario Bros. (1985).
Back then we didn’t have the internet. Especially my family. And in the early to mid ’90s I didn’t have friends that came over and played with me or that I’d go over to their place and play with them. I didn’t get my first issue of Nintendo Power magazine until like 1998 or 1999, around the time that Pokemon Yellow came out here in North America and The Legends of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was about to come out in Japan. So I played these games with my family. And the only way I found out about games was either in ads in comic books, or someone at school owned it and told me about it, or someone bought it for me, or I saw it being played in the play room at the hospital.
And back then you didn’t see advertisements for video games on TV very often. I vaguely remember seeing the occasional commercial for the Sega Genesis or for a particular Nintendo 64 game. But it wasn’t until the Playstation came out in the late ’90s that there were commercials on TV for video games and video game consoles. It’s not like today where you have events like E3, video game trailers, entire YouTube channels devoted to video games, or Facebook groups where you can talk to other gamers. And because of the widening of the video game community, the hobby has stopped being about just playing the games and become about competition, collecting, and competition between the video game developers. I think I’ll talk about comic books next.
Comic Books: Then and Now
Comic books are another thing that has changed so much since I was a kid. Back in the ’90s when I was reading Batman, The Batman Adventures, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, Star Trek, and Star Trek: The Next Generation there weren’t a lot of kids who had comic books at my school. In fact, it wasn’t until high school that I actually met people who were into comic books and didn’t just know the characters because of the movies and TV shows based on the comics. And because I got the few comics I had from a general hobby store or the hospital gift shop, rather than an actual comic book store, I was limited to what was available in those places, what my parents decided was safe for me to read (no excessive violence, no gore or nudity etc), and when they felt they could afford to buy me a comic or not. I also didn’t have access to the writers and artists who created the books that I loved (the five titles above) and as I mentioned, no knowledge of the comic book Fandom. I didn’t even know about Wizard magazine at the time.
And just like video games you didn’t have advertisements for comic books on TV. Comic book companies put print ads for their books in all of their comics. That’s how you knew if a landmark issue was coming out or a brand new series was starting. Being from Canada and living in Canada, when the Death of Superman issue, Superman (1987) #75, came out, I don’t remember hearing about it on TV or on the radio even though it hit the American media hard. I didn’t know Superman had died until the late 2000’s when I got on the internet, got on YouTube, and heard people talking about it. Or read about it on Wikipedia.
But now, if something big happens in the comic book realm, people know about it right away. When Stan Lee passed away back in November, it spread across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and YouTube within minutes. I didn’t even know that Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, had died in 1998, even though I was reading comic books at the time, because I didn’t read Wizard magazine, wasn’t connected to the early internet, didn’t hear about it on the news, and didn’t have any friends who talked about it. I learned about it ten years after the fact. So let’s move on to movies.
Movies: Then and Now
Most of what I knew about movies growing up came from the movies I watched on VHS, the previews that were on at the beginning of those tapes, the movies I remember seeing commercials for on TV (I don’t remember a lot of them), and whatever trailers I saw at the theatres the few times I got to go to the movies in the ’90s. I get that in the U.S. they had billboards with movie posters on them, buildings with posters plastered on them and other ways movie studios advertised their movies. Here in Canada though, you didn’t have that. If a movie was going to be on TV, the channel airing the movie would advertise it with a commercial/TV spot. If a movie was coming out in theatres the theatres would have a movie poster and a couple of trailers playing before other movies. If a movie was coming out on home video you might see a commercial for it on TV, but for the most part you saw the preview for it on other VHS tapes. Or they might talk about it on Entertainment Tonight. And even then it wasn’t a guarantee.
There were so many movies that I didn’t know existed because I never saw a commercial for them on TV, didn’t see an ad for them in my comic books, and didn’t see any previews for them on a VHS I owned.
Nowadays it’s almost overwhelming. You have TV spots, six or seven trailers on YouTube and in theatres, five or ten different movie posters, interviews with the cast, directors and writers, and a flash advertisement on IMDB. It’s absolutely insane. And of course you have the filmmakers and/or movie studios spoonfeeding you information about the movie starting when the movie is announced, until the movie comes out two or three years later.
I get comments from friends who can’t believe how many movies I never heard of that came out when I was growing up, even though they were super popular at the time. But, the thing is, I was isolated a lot when I was growing up because of how often I had to be hospitalized and so paying attention to popular movies wasn’t always a priority for me. And like I said, we didn’t always get the same marketing campaigns here in Canada that those people in the U.S. got, so a movie that might’ve been everywhere there, might not have been everywhere here. Plus I was a kid back then too, so I wasn’t necessarily paying attention to movies like Spawn or Demolition Man or whatever when movies like Batman Returns, The Flintstones, and Star Trek Generations had McDonald’s tie-ins, cereal box tie-ins, and action figures, comic books, and video games. Now before I close this lengthy article, I’m going to talk about TV shows a little bit. Though TV hasn’t changed that much in the last 28 years. The only real difference is the addition of Netflix, Hulu, DC Universe, and other streaming services doing their own shows.
TV Shows: Then and Now
I said that TV shows haven’t changed that much in 28 years, but it actually has if you really think about it. With movies a movie comes and goes in the theatres and people can forget about it, even if it’s really popular when it comes out, wins tons of awards, and is talked about a lot. But depending on how many people are watching it according to the all powerful (now completely pointless) Nielsen ratings, a show can be on TV for years. Star Trek: The Next Generation was on for seven years, Smallville was on for ten years, and Supernatural will have been on for fifteen years by the time it’s over at the end of this season. Fifteen years! That’s a long time for a show to be on the air, still not as long as Doctor Who when you combine the original run from 1963 to 1989 and the current run that started in 2005 (56 years is a long time), but still a long time in comparison to other shows that have only been on the air for a fraction of that time. A TV show can build up a reputation with the audience because it can be around for a very long time, while movies come and go and can be forgotten even if they’re put out on home media platforms, because movies live and die in the theatres.
So TV for me, and for a lot of people, in the ’90s was limited to whether or not we had cable at home, what channels we could get in on the rabbit ear antenna when we didn’t have cable, what channels I could get on the tiny TV in my hospital rooms, what was on in reruns, and what my parents would allow me to watch. If you had cable or a satellite dish (those came about in the late ’90s as an alternate to cable) you were able to watch a lot more shows than you could if you just had the antenna like I did for a few years in the mid-’90s (around the time that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first aired). I also had certain episodes of TV shows on VHS. Mostly Star Trek: The Next Generation but I also owned or rented episode VHS tapes of other shows like The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, The Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Barney & Friends/Barney & the Backyard Gang, Zoobilee Zoo, Animorphs, Star Wars: Ewoks, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Not all of the tapes available, but some.
Now we’ve got TV shows on DVD, on Blu-ray, and on streaming services in addition to the regular network shows or cable shows. Older shows, newer shows, and everything in between. It’s crazy how much TV we actually have in 2019. Also it seems like TV networks advertise their shows a lot better these days too. At least they do here in Canada. I couldn’t tell you what it’s like in the U.S. since I’ve never lived there and the one time I visited we weren’t there to watch TV. I remember commercials for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, most of the cartoons that I watched, Who’s the Boss?, and Growing Pains, and then commercials for TGIF on ABC. I may have seen commercials for other shows that I watched, but those are the ones I remember. In fact the only commercials I ever remember seeing for Smallville were when the pilot was going to air, and when the show went into syndication and was going to start airing reruns on YTV.
Because of the introduction of the internet, specifically social media and YouTube, Fandom has become a global thing for all of the hobbies I talked about today, not just something personal. In a way I miss that because so many of the movies and TV shows I watched, the comic books I read, and the video games that I played were things that I experienced by myself because I didn’t necessarily have friends to share them with because I was in the hospital a lot or was too sick to have people over, or whatever the case was at the time. It changed a little bit at the end of elementary school because I met my friend Garrett at the time and he was always biking over so we could play GoldenEye 007 or Perfect Dark or Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. That was in 1998. In fact I have lots of stories of playing Nintendo 64 with people other than my brother and my sister. I might have to tell those stories some time. I don’t know if any of you would be interested, but that gives me a chance to talk more about video games on the blog. Even if I don’t end up reviewing the games, I can talk about my memories of the ones I played, and things like that.
Anyways I think I’ve rambled on enough for today. I just wanted to share my thoughts on Fandom and what it was like for me growing up in the ’90s versus what it’s like for me now. Especially with how much bigger Fandom is now that we’re connected by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Like I said I might share some video game memories with you because I have a lot more of those with other people than I do of watching TV shows or movies or reading comic books. Which is weird because I’m not much of a gamer now that I’m an adult. I’m rambling again, so I will go for now, but I will be back very very soon with more posts. Until next time have a great evening and I will talk to you later. Bye for now!