Are they premature classics, or am I just getting old?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/02/10 06:46 -05:00, original URI:

Warning: amazingly, astoundingly off-topic by any definition of topicality!

Growing up, I never had a sense of what my parents really liked in the way of music and movies and such.

We had movie channels and watched what went by and we owned The Jazz Singer on VHS but then every freaking Jewish family did that, but beyond that it was a mystery to me.

In fact, when Mike once complained about my snubbing some particular hip-hop music that I was "becoming my father", I pointed out that I honestly wasn't since I had no sense of musical tastes from him, so perhaps I was becoming Mike's father, but not necessarily my own? :-)

Movies are what I really wanted to talk about, though. It seems like the definition of classic movies used to seem more like "movies from before you were born" but now, with the help of TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has morphed even past "movies you grew up with" into "movies almost two decades old" or something.

Like a bunch of yesterday's picks, in a row from 5pm to 1am:

Now these were all interesting movies, in their own individual ways.

I personally put The Sandlot (1993) ahead of Stand By Me (1986) from the genre standpoint, and not just because I found the quest to be more palatable as a 15-16 year old (death would not fascinate me until the first time I was mugged at gunpoint almost two years later), but also the whole lard-ass sequence was just kind of disgusting and actually soured me on Wil Wheaton (the one who told the story) even before the Star Trek fanbase landed on him years later, despite the positive influence of the whole That's weird, what the hell is Goofy? sequence that served as foreshadowing for Gonzo from The Muppet Show since although it came after Gonzo it was set before him.... 

But in my mind are they classics?

I guess I think of the music definition, where the classics were things I listened to even though they were technically music from before I was born, or at worst before I was listening to music. Maybe movies work under different rules.

Or perhaps that means I really am getting old -- that any movie that I remember when it first came out in the theater can be called a classic now.

Some of my younger readers don't have this problem -- these movies came out either before they were born or when they were too young to see movies (or in some case to even know English!). So for them the definition is pretty much intact. And they don't mind if movies like Starman (1984) end up on TCM because of it.

But I am left wondering whether they have been kind of shifting the definition and thus making me a bit further along the whole "old man" trail than I thought I was otherwise, or whether the definition has not changed and I am basically old.

My parents were born in 1939 and 1943 (I only know this because I can literally picture their ages on my birth certificate, I can never remember their ages directly), and since they were in their late 20s and early 30s when I was born they confound the generational bit a tad by not being in that group that had kids at or around becoming 20, so perhaps they ended up with the same definition -- it is easy to include one's childhood if one is a few years older by the time the next generation gets started.

And my sister did not start having kids until her mid 30s, so she is in same boat.

I myself am (with no current serious prospects) unlikely to reproduce, and have actually had a vasectomy, a reversal, and then another vasectomy (the former targeted as a post MS diagnosis scare foreshadowing this issue, the latter two targeted at relationships and my partner at the time's view on the matter of children -- this is likely a topic for a future blog) -- the net effect making progeny incredibly unlikely (even the reversal was only partially successful, though the technical term for people who rely on that sort if thing for birth control is daddy).

So I'll have to rely on Meredith and Zachary for the next generation. Good luck on that... :-)

But back to classics -- maybe what I am rebelling against is the notion that I was able to be alive for them -- don't they seem like they should really be the thing that came before me?

This could all be crap anyway, since I have no idea what the target demographic of TCM is -- do they aim at people younger than me, making my concern irrelevant? Or am I really getting old?

My younger friends who think I may as well by 100 respond by saying Hell yes, Michael! and my older friends who themselves re feeling like they are getting old respond by saying Shut the hell up, Michael which might mean that I have some kind of hellfire scenario to look forward to either way. Good time be more agnostic, huh? :-)

According to Wikipedia, TCM is defined as follows:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a cable television channel featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. film libraries, which include many MGM, United Artists, RKO and Warner Bros. titles.

Maybe I would feel differently if I ever look at AMC for movies, but it is probably about the same.

These days I take the Emo approach. You know, that "Sometimes, people come up to me concerned.... that I'll reproduce." but figuring they don't need to worry. Though I have worked in schools and afterschool programs and day care centers, as a babysitter and even as a nanny for one year, I don't have a whole lot of contact with kids these days (th sole exception being my nieces, who I do not see nearly as often as I probably ought).

And I guess I do feel old more often than not -- and not just because I don't quite keep up with the young ones these days....

This blog post may not actually be about anything. But it was written on a quiet Saturday for posting on an even quieter Sunday morning. What better time to not be about anything?


This post brought to you by (U+1375, aka ETHIOPIC NUMBER FORTY)

# Doug on 10 Feb 2008 11:37 AM:

Classic and famous  used to be words with specific meaning along the lines of classic was the ancient Greeks and famous was limited to the ten or twelve people that acedemic historians wrote the most about.

Now classic is more than a minute old and famous is someone known by more than two people.

# tonyso on 11 Feb 2008 4:32 PM:

You point out another way in which the world has forever changed because of technology. Because of netflix, my kids know my taste in movies to the Nth degree. If I wanted to pull their lists/history - I could learn things untold about the images/stories that have shaped their lives. I have no clue about what my parents watched, other than an story that my mom named me after she saw Friendly Persuasion (some say Psycho...)

# Mitali on 13 Feb 2008 1:22 PM:

I wouldn't call most of TCM's offerings this month "classic", especially since the movies from the '70s, '80s and '90s that they are showing are for "31 Days of Oscar".

Every year when February rolls around and they do "31 Days of Oscar", I find myself not watching TCM as much as I usually do. I know other people who turn off TCM every February.

Thank God normal programming on TCM resumes in March.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 13 Feb 2008 1:24 PM:

Aha, so perhaps I was not crazy/old/senile!

Or at least if I was, it was for other stuff, not for this! :-)

# Igor Levicki on 14 Feb 2008 11:06 PM:

When it was the last time you watched the movie "Electric Dreams"?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 15 Feb 2008 9:23 AM:

I enjoyed it, but it definitely ain't a classic!

# Meredith on 18 Feb 2008 10:00 AM:

Just to correct you...I started having kids right after I turned 32 - which is early 30s not mid 30s so please do not make me older than I am.  I am now 35 and in my mid 30s and after July will be finished having kids!

# Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Feb 2008 1:12 PM:

Fair enough Meredith. :-)

I think I mentally just thought -- my sister, she is 35, and went from there. Though technically what I was trying to mention still holds (mom started at 27 and was done by the time she was 29, you started at 32 and plan to be done before you hit 36).

But sorry to make you sound older than you were, it was definitely unintentional....

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