I used to own CDs – I bought an iPod. I used to miss TV shows – I got Tivo. I used to think “Zoolander” was the greatest movie of all time – I saw “Once.” It seems like an eternity ago, but really, it was only four years.
Pop culture has defined rather than influenced my time at the University. Not only because it’s been my job here at the Daily to report on it, but because it really has pervaded every aspect of my life, and I think that’s true for many of us. I arrived as another freshman brought up on “One Tree Hill,” Playstation 2 and Blink 182. Four years later, you’d think my tastes would have matured. Have they?
I used to laugh hysterically at Ron Burgundy (“By the hammer of Thor!”) and Napoleon Dynamite (“Gosh!”). Thank God I’ve progressed to the intelligent humor of Judd Apatow, whether I’m watching a dilating vagina in “Knocked Up” or browsing through a hundred different pictures of cartoon dicks in “Superbad.” Much better.
It’s just that I don’t feel like I’ve really matured when, instead of doing calculus homework, I’m shredding a Tenacious D song on a toy guitar plugged into my Xbox or simulating a sporting event on Wii by waving a remote control around like I’m trying to catch butterflies. The past four years have been a constant battle between my desire to consume pop culture and my need to graduate with a GPA that won’t land me a job at the mall. And it’s been kind of a losing battle.
It seems that pop culture has been more of a hindrance than a help to my maturation in college. This is supposed to be the time where I’m learning life skills and making connections for my future. And, I mean, I suppose I have gained some skills – I’m a level 35 commander in “Halo 3,” and Lord knows I will destroy you in “Super Smash Brothers” with any character on any level. And as for connections? Those are with my friends as we piled into my car time and time again to go watch movies at good old Showcase Cinema (now with student rates!). We’ve come out shaking our heads after “Spiderman 3,” hopped up on bloodlust after “300” and nodding off after “Zodiac.”
I don’t regret leaving my econ exam 10 minutes early to make sure I got home in time for “The Office.” It doesn’t bother me that I stayed up until four in the morning on a weeknight because I was on the edge of my seat, blazing through a season of “Lost” on DVD. I’m happy that I learned that the best movie to watch drunk is “Michael Clayton” (drink every time George Clooney acts smug and you’ll be gone) and the worst game to play on a date is, well, any game – except Wii bowling. Girls love Wii bowling. Write that down.
The reason I’ve enjoyed all this is now I know it stops. I was never that sure what a highly stressful 9-to-5 job was like, but I’m sure it doesn’t involve watching eight episodes of “24” in one day. Gone are the days of massive sensory overload, as I don’t think I’ll be able to blast T.I. or M.I.A. for hours in my little cubicle. (Well, maybe once – if I have an office with a door.)
But I guess it’s really over. Real life has finally arrived. Pop culture will always be around us, but we’ll have to consume it in little, bite-sized morsels. Fortunate, as bite-sized has been the trend as of late. Writers striking for shows played streaming on your laptop, a thousand Sudoku puzzles at your fingertips on Nintendo DS, watching concert feeds on your cell phone – it’s all very . small.
In terms of maturity, I’m not so sure I have to grow up on April 27. I’m not deleting my Facebook or replacing everything on my iPod with smooth Jazz. I know I won’t quit my pop culture obsession cold turkey, nor should I have to. I’m only 20, and I’ve still got plenty of time to be young and immature. We all do.