When you get to my age you are in the position that you will be over halfway through your life and you have those moments when you sit and reminisce because, as your memory gets worse and worse, you know that you will soon forget most things from your past. Writing my weird life series of blogs I have started to relive many events and occurrences from when I was younger, especially in my teenage life. Last night on my radio show, I mentioned that the first time I watched the Disney film – Hercules it was stood in a school library watching it from a VHS video tape. I think Hercules, the Disney version, is probably one of my favourite Disney films and it got me thinking about my three favourite films when I was a teenager – from the title of this blog can you guess what they were?
Do you remember VHS tapes? If you are reading this and below the age of twenty then you probably have no idea what I am talking about. One of the great purchases any house could have was a video player/recorder. Although the top loading ones which popped up and then you had to press down were my favourite, they soon evolved into the front feeding ones, which always looked like they were eating the tapes and, if the tape was faulty or the ‘heads’ dirty – they frequently did! One of the most important times of the year for me and my VHS tapes was Christmas. Why? Well this was the time that you sat down with the Christmas Edition of the Radio Times and planned out which films you wanted to ‘record’ and how many tapes you would need in order to achieve this. If the film was on ITV (don’t think there was any other channel with adverts on when I was growing up) you might be completely committed to the recording process, pressing pause when the adverts came on to avoid recording them! There was that moment of fantastic realisation when you knew you could actually watch one channel and record a different one! Now that was technology for you!
Anyway, back to Indie, Marty and Daniel – With my three favourite films recorded it meant that I could watch these as often as I wanted. Some days, I would sit painting warhammer type figures, or typing up my dungeons and dragon fanzine (Animated Dead – typed through several layers of carbon paper in order to provide the copies for my five subscribers) or just thinking about the future while watching these three films. Each of the films had a main character which I aspired to be like for a range of reasons and provided motivation for the future. Who were those characters – well that’s where the title of this blog originates from.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – Possibly one of the greatest films of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first film in the series starring the character Indiana Jones. Indie, as he was known to his friends, was an archaeologist/adventurer who travelled the world seeking out rare and mythical artefacts, going head to head with the opposing forces of humanity who wanted to use the artefacts for pure evil. Now, don’t get confused at this point. I’m not the travelling sort of person at all, and I’m certainly not built for battling evil forces. What I aspired to as a teenager was Indie’s intellect and knowledge. His character appeared to know everything about myths and legends, something which has, since being a teenager, intrigued me. He had the knowledge, he worked in academia and he was….yes….a PROFESSOR! I used to hope that one day I would have his knowledge and understanding of a subject and that I would be recognised as an expert in an area. If you wanted to know something about archaeology you went to Indie… I used to dream of that phrase with my name and subject inserted in to the correct places. I’m not one of those naturally intelligent people of the world. I’m one of those people that Einstein would class, as they journey towards genius, as the 99% perspiration. I have to work hard, very hard and even then the outcome is not guaranteed. As I was studying for A levels and degrees, Indie kept me motivated and working towards a goal which I frequently didn’t think was possible. Even now, I still wish I had Indie’s knowledge, expertise and even professorship, but I guess I am still somewhat a rather inept sidekick that will probably meet an unfortunate end as the film comes to a close.
The Karate Kid – As well as having this film on VHS tape, I actually bought the soundtrack on cassette – mainly for the final song – You’re the best around! You have probably seen or heard of these three films – films which, in my opinion gradually go down hill before the remake of the the original with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. The first one is the best, with Daniel moving to a new house, struggling finding new friends, falling in love, getting beaten up and taught karate by an old karate master, Mr Miyagi. You are probably wondering which of the previously mentioned aspects of this film I aspired to as a teenager. Well, actually it was probably the determination and perseverance of the main character Daniel San. As you can imagine, growing up with NHS glasses, a geeky personality and often a face of spots, I was a prime target for a range of comments from the more popular people in the school. I never wanted to learn karate and beat everyone up, although I did frequently wonder if it would actually provide me with some sort of respect from the other guys. What I did want to gain from the character was the ability to keep going and never give up. I mentioned at the start of this section the song “You’re the best around” from the soundtrack. Although I accept that I will never be the best at anything, for me it is more about that commitment and motivation to drive towards being the best rather than the actually reaching the pinnacle of achievement. I knew that I will never be lifting the trophy, but I might be the person who works really hard in order to get there and have the accolade of receiving that comment of – “as long as you tried your best then that is all you can do.”
Back to the Furture – This film was probably one of the only films which I actually saw ‘live’ at the Odeon Cinema. I remember going to watch it with my sister…not sure if she wanted to see it or me. It might have been that she was going to see it with a boyfriend and mum made her take me along with her…how embarrassing – for her, not me. If that was the case, I probably had to sit somewhere different in the cinema. The main character in these films is, of course, Marty McFly. He is cool, trendy, popular and a bit of a rebel as well as being able to skateboard. I never had a skateboard when I was younger. I remember having a bike which I shared with my younger brother (we didn’t have a lot of money growing up) which was a ‘mini sprint’ bike. Apart from that, skateboards and go carts were non-existent. Even if I was lucky enough to have one, I know it wouldn’t have ended well – I was never good with anything which requires balance and movement – come to thing of it, I’m still not! What did I aspire to in Marty McFly. Well most definitely his coolness. I actually remember starting to use the layered look after watching the film, wearing a Tshirt with a shirt over the stop. He was also responsible for me reducing the amount of sugar I drank in tea etc. There is a line in the movie when he says – ‘Just give me something without sugar’. Maybe in my desperateness to be accepted and trendy, I actually thought this was the answer to my quest! Of course, the film had that perfect ending which I often used to dream of achieving – waking up one morning with a fantastic car, money and the popularity of football. Looking back on the film now, there was something quite ironic about the song – ‘Its hip to be square!’.
It’s been really interesting reliving those films and the aspirations the main characters provided me when I was growing up. I remember them fondly, as well as the activities that I was doing while I was watching them. Were they inspirational? Well I’m not super cool, trendy or popular like Marty McFly and I’ve definitely not reached the accolade of being a professor like Indiana Jones. Although I’ve still hopefully got the determination and motivation of Daniel San, I have yet to lift that final trophy and be acknowledged as the best…around. However, I do think that these films and characters have influenced me just like similar characters influence each and everyone of us and, you never know, I might one day end up being a karate chopping, trendy professor who blogs and streams on Twitch…well … maybe.
So what films/characters inspired you as a teenager or even now? Have you reached your aspirations? If you have the answer to any of these questions or just comment about what I have written today then please let me know by adding them below. You can keep up to date with my content by following me on Twitch, Twitter and Facebook. If you are interested in joining or playing Minecraft, then you can join the server and website here. Of course any subscribers to my YouTube channel are always appreciated.
Have fun and I’ll catch you all later but until then – consider yourself waffled.