Mr. Charlton’s Pop Culture Woes

I recently purchased a bunch of games for the Xbox recently, and I’ve having a ball playing them. I made the switch over to PC gaming a while ago, but I’m in possession of an Xbox console right now and sometimes sitting on the couch with a glass of wine beats the dusty office where my computer sits. One of the games I’m playing has me especially hooked. It’s a Role Playing Game set in the future with space as it’s backdrop. You’re the captain of a spy vessel, working as a clandestine operative for the galaxies highest authority. You uncover a plot by a rogue spy, who has aligned themselves with an evil artificial intelligence. Not only are you tasked with eliminating the threat, there’s a multitude of worlds to explore and missions from various people to complete. To top it off, there’s a steamy sex scene, that certainly caused headlines. Nine years ago.

I’m talking about the game Mass Effect, and yes, it’s a great game that’s aged well. Yes, I’ve sunk over twenty hours into it over the last month and a half. Yes, it totally feature a sex scene between your character and another character. And yes, it was a big deal years ago, earning both critical acclaim and journalistic scorn for showing naked bodies. Games at the time still carried more of the stigma of ‘Children’s toys’, but the people who believe that, well, they’re not in high of numbers as they used to be.

Now, you might be asking yourself why is Mr. Charlton talking about a game that’s almost a decade old. And that would be very astute of you. The reason I’m bringing it up here is that I’ve got nowhere else to bring it up. Over the last decade, I’ve been barraged by new media in the form of books, movies, games, music, you name it. Because of the burst of creativity from all sectors, I haven’t been able to keep up. That leaves me in a position where I’m no longer in the pop culture loop.

Pop culture is the culture that’s popular right now. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to have a meaning (in fact it rarely does), it needs to be hot. Without using Google, can you name some of the hit songs of 1996? What were the hot new games coming out? What movie was breaking the box office? What books were on the bestsellers list? There’s a couple of things that come to mind, but nothing concrete. When I think about 1996, I have a hard time remembering how old I was.

Getting back to my game, Mass Effect still holds up. It has an intriguing story, the graphics still look pretty good, the gameplay is solid. It was a good game then, and it’s a good game now. But because I’ve chosen to play the game at a much later date, the only thing that’s missing is the water cooler talk. I can’t bring this up with any of my friends or co-workers, people on the internet haven’t posted about it in several years. The only thing the game is lacking now is the ability to dissect it with other people. It’d be like trying to talk about a baseball game that happened five years ago. It may have been a great game, but it certainly isn’t fresh in the minds of the masses. That’s the downside.

Mr. Charlton tend to consume his media years later, when it’s lukewarm and you can tell if it’s aged well, and that’s the plus side. Something that was hot and tasty yesterday might still be great after a couple seconds in the microwave. Other media might be great when it’s piping hot and fresh, but when you take a look or listen a number of years later, you might come to the conclusion that it was made for consumption then, and now it’s stale and tasteless.

I usually have a lot to say, and I usually have a lot to say about what’s trending at the moment. Most of my posts deal with what’s going on at the moment, because it’s easy to write about something when opinions are everywhere. Consuming media years after it’s been created makes it tough to talk about what I’m reading or what I’m consuming. So should I get back in the game and start keeping up with a Game of Thrones? Or should I put my Netflix account to good use and re-watch Escape from New York?


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Let’s be honest people, everyone knows I have Escape from New York on DVD and watch it at least once a month.

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