Category Archives: Movies

Posts about movies. There aren’t many of these because I don’t watch that many movies.

1914: I Wish I Liked Star Wars More

Recently, there were a couple of big bits of Star Wars-related excitement: the release of a new trailer for the upcoming movie, and some “not gameplay footage” footage of the upcoming new Star Wars Battlefront game.

And… I don’t really care.

This post isn’t, however, a tirade where I get angry at people who are into Star Wars — certainly I don’t begrudge anyone their excitement over the new stuff, and it’s nice to see something people can get enthusiastic rather than angry about for once. No; rather, it’s a contemplation of why I’m no longer into Star Wars now, in 2015, when many of my peers are.

In theory Star Wars should be right up my alley. I like sci-fi and I like fantasy, and Star Wars combines elements of both, being, essentially, a tale of heroic fantasy, mysterious magic and dastardly villains… and a tale that just happens to be set among spacefaring civilisations rather than the more conventional quasi-medieval setting of most fantasy.

And yet I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for it any more.

I don’t think it’s the fault of the films themselves. A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are all still solid films, albeit somewhat cheesy at times; The Phantom Menace is a bit poo but inoffensively so, and Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are both perfectly competent, exciting movies. I recall a couple of years back I watched them all through in sequential order — The Phantom Menace first, Return of the Jedi last — and found it to be an enjoyable experience that actually made the prequels seem a bit better than I had previously thought.

I’ve not felt any sort of urge to watch them again, though; I don’t think I even own a copy of them any more, having ditched most of my DVD collection the last time we moved house. I’m kind of done with Star Wars; I got all that I wanted to out of it, and moved on.

Except Star Wars didn’t want to move on, and I think this is why my excitement and interest in it has completely faded over the years. Over the years since the prequel movies, we’ve had TV shows, animated shorts, websites, video games, toys, novels, comics, fan movies, endless speculation, memes, and the Great Unwritten Rule of Geekdom: that if you don’t like Star Wars you’re not a proper nerd. (I don’t actually believe this last one, of course, but I have had a few looks of surprise when fellow nerds have asked me what I think of something Star Wars related and I’ve responded that I’m not really into it.)

In other words, Star Wars was inescapable and being used more as a gigantic marketing juggernaut than anything else. I’ve become very aware of this sort of thing over the last few years — I think working in the press and seeing long-running PR campaigns for various blockbusters “from the inside” jaded me somewhat — and I was just getting a little fed up of seeing it seemingly everywhere. That manifested itself in the realisation that I didn’t really care for Star Wars any more, and a response to the announcement of the new movies and games best described as “meh”.

I’m kind of sad about this in a way, and I do stand by my title for this post; I do wish I liked Star Wars more, because it would be nice to share in some of this excitement, and it’s nice to reminisce about classic games like Super Star Wars, X-Wing and TIE Fighter. But, for me, at least, I think that ship has sailed (or done the Kessel run in however-many-parsecs-it-was, insert your own tortured metaphor here) and I’ve moved on to my own things that people give me blank looks about when I express my own excitement and enthusiasm. It all balances out, I guess.

So for those of you into Star Wars, I hope the recent reveals were everything you hoped they’d be. And for those of you not… well, I’ve got a nice quiet little corner of the Internet here. Pull up a chair and I’ll put the kettle on.

1904: 21st Century TV

The Internet has brought with it many things both good and bad, but by far my favourite thing about it is to do with video.

No, I’m not talking about YouTube generally — the whole “anyone with a webcam can make videos!” culture it promotes feeds into modern youth’s unhealthy obsession with “being famous” — but rather the fact that, between the various streaming services out there, both legitimate and… less legitimate, there is probably some way of watching all those programmes/adverts/movies you wish you still had 1) the VHS tapes for and 2) something to play them with.

This last week, for example, Andie and I have watched Police Squad!, the TV-based precursor to the Naked Gun movies. Only six episodes were made, and back at university, when I “discovered” the show for the first time, I had a VHS cassette with two of them on it, so I had only ever seen those two episodes. Now, however, some helpful Polish person has kindly uploaded the whole lot onto YouTube for anyone to enjoy at their leisure. No waiting for TV networks to license them and show them again. No tracking down video tapes and VCRs. Just click and go.

The ability to rediscover old favourites is one of the best things about streaming video, then, as my rewatch of Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time in about ten years will attest. But the fact that streaming services makes new favourites easier than ever to discover, too, is rather wonderful. I doubt I’d have become so interested in anime without my Crunchyroll subscription, for example; prior to widespread streaming video, the only real way to get into anime was to buy VHS tapes or DVDs, and with anime being niche-interest and somewhat “exotic”, particularly when it first hit these shores in the mid-90s, it was a rather expensive hobby. Anime DVDs and Blu-Rays still cost up to twice as much as a regular ol’ Western film even today, making online services like Crunchyroll much better value.

This is the TV of the 21st century, then; it really is the vision of the future we had twenty, thirty years ago: decide what you want to watch, then just watch it. In most cases, that’s possible to do, even if you have strange, bizarre and peculiar tastes. And even if you’re more fucked up than most, I can almost guarantee that there’s some dark corner of the Internet out there somewhere more than willing to cater to your particular interests, whatever they might be… for better or worse.

In these days of people seemingly constantly yelling at one another on social media and comments sections on large sites being widely (and, sometimes, justifiably) regarded as fetid cesspits, it’s easy to forget the great and wonderful things that the Internet has brought to modern life. I’m a strong believer that its ability to “archive” — for future generations to be able to enjoy movies, TV shows, animations and other videos from years ago — is one of the best things about it. And as technology improves and we find more and more ways to interact with this world-wide network, I hope we never lose sight of these simple pleasures that it’s allowed us to enjoy like never before.

1482: Lego, not LEGO

Andie and I went to see The Lego Movie today (or, if you work in PR, The LEGO Movie™) — it’s the first time we’ve been to the cinema for ages since neither of us really like going all that much, but given Andie’s admirable obsession with Lego (we have three awesome display cabinets with City stuff in at our place, and I’m sure our new home will have considerably more) there was never a time where we weren’t going to see it.

I shall refrain from spoiling the movie too much, save to say that it’s an excellent kids’ movie of the type designed to appeal in numerous ways to grown-ups as well. The concept of Lego being an all-ages toy (whatever it might say about upper age limits on the boxes) is specifically lampshaded, and there are numerous cameos from characters who have been immortalised through various Lego sets over the years — ranging from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings via the DC universe.

What I did want to talk about is how Lego has done a great job of positioning itself to a ridiculously broad market in 2014, and how that’s changed significantly over the years I’ve been alive. Or, at least, the way I’ve come to look at Lego has changed significantly over the years, anyhow.

I never really got hugely into Lego as a kid. I’m not sure why, really, since you’d think it would appeal to my inherent creative sensibilities. But no; my brother was the big Lego person in our family, though I certainly delved into the big brown plastic box full of it that was a fixture in the playroom when I was growing up. I liked the idea of Lego — something which you could use to build anything you wanted — but always felt a little intimidated by it, too.

Part of the reason for this was that in the big brown plastic box was an extremely well put-together house, complete with doors, windows and a slopey roof. I liked looking at this house because I was impressed with the craftsmanship — I assume it was originally the work of my brother, though I don’t know if it was assembled from instructions or not — but I also didn’t want to take it apart, because it was “complete”, and taking something apart that is “complete” didn’t quite feel right to me. Unfortunately, it consisted of all the “best” pieces, which made building other coherent structures a little more difficult, so ultimately I never really became much of a builder.

That was how I thought of Lego; it was something you built things with. I didn’t really think of it as having much of a “personality” as such, despite the presence of minifigs. (Incidentally, I was very happy to see that the “spaceman” minifigs, which appeared to be all we had in the big brown box, were specifically brought up in the movie.) It was just sort of… there, and given that I didn’t end up building all that much stuff with it, it drifted out of my consciousness for many years, never to return until I met Andie, really.

Today, however, Lego very much has a personality, demonstrated aptly by the movie. But I think the slightly irreverent attitude that Lego is infused with today started somewhat earlier. I can’t say for certain exactly when it began, but I have a feeling the computer games made by Traveller’s Tales have a lot to do with it. Again, I haven’t played all that many of these, but they have developed somewhat over time, too — they began with “silent movie” recreations of Star Wars that ended up being hilarious because of their lack of dialogue, and gradually moved into movie adaptations that used actual lines and sounds from the movie, and subsequently on to original titles such as Lego City Undercover.

The personality of the latter in particular was very evident in the movie, and it’s one of the things that made it so enjoyable — it was silly, highly quotable nonsense for children, but at the same time the references and sly winks throughout were clearly aimed at those of us who are old enough to have kids of our own (whether or not we actually do).

In short, it was a lot of fun that I highly recommend you go and see. I’m glad to see something as cool as Lego endures so well in the modern world, and solid adaptations like The Lego Movie will undoubtedly help it continue to do so.

1277: Failing to Resist the Urge to Call This Post ‘Rim Job’

I’M SORRY. (I’m not sorry.)

I went to see Pacific Rim this evening with my similarly-named friends Tim and Tom. This, along with Akira the other night, means that I’ve officially been to the cinema more times in the past week than I have in the last year.

As for Pacific Rim, it was enjoyable, if cheesy. Good, dumb fun on the surface, but a movie clearly designed with an appreciation — possibly even reverence — for Japanese giant robot anime. Throughout the whole thing, I couldn’t help thinking that the movie might have been better just as a straight-up anime. In fact, partway through the movie, I found myself making mental comparisons with the visual novel Deus Machina Demonbane, with which Pacific Rim actually shares a significant number of similarities.

Lest you’re unfamiliar with Deus Machina Demonbane but have seen Pacific Rim, the former is a visual novel about giant robots battling monsters loosely inspired by the work of HP Lovecraft; the latter is a movie about giant robots battling monsters with too many mouths. Already quite similar, albeit the Lovecraftian twist on Demonbane is a pleasant break from the norm.

Then we have the whole “you need two people to pilot a giant robot” thing, which is present in both Demonbane and Pacific Rim; in the former, the pilot is paired up with a “tome” (in the case of the protagonist, an absolutely adorable personification of the Necronimicon), while in the latter, two people have to “drift” together and share their consciousness, or memories, or something.

Then there’s the fact that the main “hero” robot gets the crap kicked out of it repeatedly, yet somehow always gets repaired to immaculate condition every time, which is present in both works.

And the fact that the giant robots fighting do just as much damage — if not more so — to the places they’re trying to protect than the monsters they’re fighting, which is, again, present in both works.

Demonbane does have a bit of a twist in that the antagonists are given personalities and stories of their own, rather than just being “GRRR ARRGH MONSTERS”. There’s an overall “bad guy” in Demonbane, who is responsible for the Lovecraftian beasts invading our dimension, and there are some truly loathsome “lieutenants” who give the protagonist and the other characters in the story a lot of grief, to say the least.

Also, there is more fucking in Demonbane, while there is none in Pacific Rim, what with it being a 12A and all while Demonbane is an adults-only title. For the most part, the sexual scenes in Demonbane are more horrific than titillating, though; it’s one of those “I can’t fap to this!” games, unless you have some seriously weird tastes. Likewise, you cannot fap to Pacific Rimbut for different reasons.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that if you enjoyed Pacific Rim and you’re open to the idea of playing sexually explicit visual novels, then you should give Deus Machina Demonbane a look. It’s one of the more memorable, well-written visual novels I’ve played in my time, and it’s satisfyingly hefty in length, too, particularly if you go for all the endings.

I am hot and sweaty. I am going to drink something cold and go to bed. Good night.

1009: Some Favourite Characters

One of the things I always find most memorable about any story I experience, be it a book, TV show, movie, anime or game, is the characters. If the characters aren’t interesting, chances are I’m not going to get hooked in. It’s the reason I usually cite as to why I loved the open-world adventuring of Xenoblade Chronicles but find Bethesda role-playing games and most MMOs rather tiresome after a while, but it applies to pretty much any medium.

As such, I would like to present to you a randomly-chosen selection of five of my favourite characters that have popped into my head immediately upon attempting to think of my favourite characters. If that makes sense. I make no apologies for the fact that some or all of these are likely to be big-eyed anime or computer game people.

Grace (Gabriel Knight)

Most people cite Tim Curry’s memorable portrayal of the lewd, womanising bookshop owner in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers as the highlight of that game, but the unsung heroine of the piece is most definitely Grace Nakamura, his long-suffering assistant.

Grace is a realistic female character in that she’s not there to be eye candy, she’s not there to be a useless sidekick hanging on everything the hero does and she actually has a personality. She doesn’t take any shit from Gabriel, and you’d better believe that he regularly gives her shit — his always-rejected advances are a highlight of their interactions, and yet it’s clear that the pair of them do, in fact, care deeply for one another, otherwise Grace would have been out the door long ago.

The exact nature of Grace and Gabriel’s relationship, at least in the first game, is kept deliberately rather ambiguous. Grace often acts as something of a mother figure towards Gabriel, though it’s never quite clear if she actually wants to “tame” him or simply sand down a few of his rough edges. Gabriel is certainly receptive to the things she says and appreciates the hard work she puts in for him — and yet the clear sexual tension between the two of them goes unresolved. Proof that you can have two characters of the opposite sex to one another without them ending up in a predictable love scene.

Angel (Buffy, Angel)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series Angel remain two of my favourite TV shows of all time. David Boreanaz’s brooding vampire Angel appears in both, but really comes into his own when he gets his own series.

It would have been easy for Whedon and the gang to leave Angel as your stereotypical brooding vampire, haunted by his past and trying to make amends for deeds that can never be forgiven. And indeed for many of his appearances early in Buffy, he’s little more than that, providing a convenient “forbidden love” interest for Buffy while allowing the show to explore some traditional vampire themes.

In Angel, however, he cuts loose and we get to see him for who he really is. Sure, he broods and spends a lot of time sitting in the dark — something that is regularly commented upon by his companions — but he also does a fine line in completely deadpan one-liners.

Also, this.

Incidentally, a comment on that YouTube video reads thus: “I always thought Angel was a ponce in the first three season of Buffy…then He moved to L.A. L.A. changes people.”

Damn right.

Toshino Kyouko (Yuru Yuri)

If there’s one reason to watch Yuru Yuri, which I believe I have already extolled the virtues of on several occasions, it is Toshino Kyoko.

Kyoko, as you can probably tell from the image above, does not give a shit what people think of her, and she’s immensely entertaining as a result. She’s often the instigator of the various scrapes the group gets into, and her hyperactivity is a big part of what gives the show so much energy. Part of her appeal comes from the fact that her blonde-haired, blue-eyed appearance sets her up to be “the pretty one” and she then subverts stereotypical expectations completely with her wild and crazy behaviour.

At the same time, though, she’s a dedicated friend and companion, and the whole “possibly unrequited love” thing going on between her and the huggably tsundere student council vice president Ayano (whom I also considered including on this list, but settled on making her my Facebook avatar instead) is another big draw for those who enjoy seeing blushing anime girls simpering at one another and then denying their feelings vehemently. I-It’s not like Ayano wants to spend every waking moment with Kyoko or anything, after all! Idiot!

Seiko (Corpse Party)

Seiko was one of my favourite characters from Corpse Party, a game with an incredibly well-defined and interesting cast all round. The best thing about Seiko, though, was how self-consciously “not girly” she was. She’s open, honest, brash, crass and, a bit like Kyoko, does not give a damn what people think of her. At the same time, she’s cheerful and does her best to keep the people around her in high spirits, even as they are trapped in a horrifying, terrifying situation from which there appears to be no escape.

It becomes clear after only spending a short amount of time with her in the game that she has a number of deep bonds with her friends — particularly with the character Naomi, for whom it’s rather strongly implied that she’s harbouring romantic and/or sexual feelings.

To say too much more about Seiko would probably be to spoil Corpse Party more than I’m willing to, but suffice to say that she’s a definite highlight of the game. And, oh look! Corpse Party is half-price on the PlayStation Store (PSP and Vita) right now. You should go and buy it if you have a Sony handheld, otherwise I’m not sure we can be friends any more.

Polgara (Belgariad, Malloreon)

David Eddings’ Belgariad and Malloreon series are rather traditional pulp fantasy novels in many ways, but a few aspects of them cause me to remember them fondly — and I’ve even re-read the whole set of books several times, which is not something I normally do.

One of these aspects is Polgara the sorceress. For those unfamiliar with Eddings’ epics, they follow a relatively traditional pattern in which an unassuming young farmhand named Garion gradually gathers a party of various ne’er-do-wells and, through various combinations of circumstances — spoiler! — becomes incredibly powerful, battles against an evil god and wins.

One of Garion’s constant companions throughout the entire series is his “Aunt Pol,” who has been a constant presence in his life since childhood. It transpires that “Pol” is actually Polgara, a four thousand year old sorceress and daughter of Belgarath, sorcerer of legend and he who recovered the mystical artifact The Orb of Aldur from — look, let’s just say he’s Kind of a Big Deal, all right?

The reason Polgara is interesting is not because she’s a kick-ass sorceress, though, it’s the fact that she’s a very well fleshed-out character with a hell of a lot of hidden depth. Garion learning the truth behind her heritage in the Belgariad is just the tip of the iceberg — Eddings went on to publish two additional books known as Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress which explained the ancient magicians’ history in exhaustive detail, giving the entire world in which the two series were set an extremely strong feeling of being a “real” — or at least believable — place. Polgara and Belgarath’s constant presence throughout the world’s history give you something to latch on to as millenia tick by in the pages of the books — and yet both of them remain entertainingly “human” despite their obvious… non-humanness.

____

That was fun. I’ll do this again sometimes soon. I won’t ask what your favourite characters are, because no-one ever replies when I end a blog post with a question. I’ll just say good night and leave it at that!

 

 

1006: Far, Far Away

It may be shocking to some to hear this given how much of a massive nerd I am in almost every other respect, but I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never really cared for Star Wars.

I’m sorry. I just don’t. I’ve seen all of them several times — including the original trilogy in their original, un-messed-around-with incarnations — and I just struggle to get excited about it. I never wanted to be Luke Skywalker, I don’t give a shit whether Han shot first or not and I always preferred Wing Commander over X-Wing.

Of course, these days it’s not uncommon to not give a shit about Star Wars due to the massive oversaturation of the market perpetuated by the Lucas empire, but I’m pretty sure I’ve felt this way even since before the prequels came out. I’m not sure what it is — whether it’s just the fact that it’s so pervasive in geek culture that I’m just sick of it, or if I actively dislike it. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s the latter; I think it’s more a sense of indifference and not really feeling like it’s worth all the fuss.

Oh, I get why it was a big deal on its original release, of course. I can appreciate that the original trilogy are good films — they’re well-structured, reasonably well-paced (they are quite long, though) and stuffed with memorable characters — and I can see what an impact it’s had on modern sci-fi. I just can’t get excited about the prospect of anything Star Wars-related these days.

It doesn’t help, of course, that aspects of the franchise get continually co-opted for completely inappropriate purposes. I knew that I was completely over Star Wars when Yoda started advertising for Vodafone, though I had my suspicions when he appeared in one of the Soul Calibur games. The moment that the marketing people get hold of something that enjoys mainstream (or even niche) popularity, it dies a death. Whatever soul it once had is gone, replaced by that cold-hearted capitalist desire to make cash.

In fact, my only really fond memories of Star Wars include the amateur video production called Yoda’s Bar my school friends made with a bunch of Star Wars figures, and the drunken evening I spent after one of our school leaving days sleeping on the floor next to my friend Woody, who was doing what he called “Emperor Farts”, which consisted of him doing an impression of Emperor Palpatine and then letting rip with some of the most thunderous flatulence I’d ever heard. (He managed to keep this up for well over an hour; I am still surprised to this day that he didn’t shit himself.)

I digress.

I think it’s largely the oversaturation issue that gets to me in situations like this, because it’s not just Star Wars that I feel this way about. I find myself instinctively starting to dislike anything which I’m constantly bombarded with. It’s an automatic response now — I start to see so much of something that I just feel utterly sick of the sight of it, and thus want to take myself as far away as possible from it. Recent things I have felt this way about include Call Me Maybe, Gangnam Style, anything to do with Batman, and the video game Dishonored. The more I see of a thing, the less I want to see of it. Marketing through constant “brand visibility” evidently doesn’t work on me.

This instinctive behaviour that I have picked up from somewhere probably accounts for my changing tastes in media consumption — my present fascination with anime, Japanese games and related media falls firmly into the “niche interests” category and consequently is not prone to the “JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT FOR FIVE MINUTES!” problem that I’m describing here. Ironically, of course, I’m happy to talk about all of the above things with like-minded people for hours on end and never get sick of them.

I don’t particularly think that feeling this way is a problem per se — everyone should be free to pursue their own tastes and interests — but as I posted the other day, it can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. I occasionally think I should make more of an effort to try and engage with things that are otherwise popular, but then I just think to myself “no, why should I? I have plenty of things that I’m interested in to keep me busy and entertained; I don’t need the stuff that everyone else is talking about.”

I just end up with fewer people to talk about my interests with. But eh. ‘Twas ever thus for those mysterious creatures known as geeks, nerds, whatever you want to call us. And the fortunate side-effect of the smaller numbers of people who are into more “niche” things is that the people who are into those things are, more often than not, infinitely more passionate about their interests than those who are following the herd. I’ll take passion and enthusiasm over conformity any day.

#oneaday Day 995: Cultural Victory

Can you have too much culture? Can the sum of human creative endeavours add up to too much for someone to take in?

Well, first of all, those are two different questions. The answer to the second one, at least, is “yes”; the former? I’m not so sure.

We’re already at a point where there is so much Stuff in the world it’s impossible to keep on top of it all. Whatever media you’re into, be it books, movies, TV shows, music or games, there’s enough Stuff out there to keep you entertained probably for the rest of your life in just one of those formats, let alone if you, like most people, spread your time between several. Even if you spend your time focusing entirely on one genre within a single medium, you’ll never get to the bottom of the pile. You’ll never “finish” culture. You’ll never see everything there is to see.

Depending on your outlook, this is either a fantastic thing or incredibly depressing news. For many, there’s a degree of “shame” over not having caught up on things that are supposedly “canonical” or “essential” for everyone to have read/seen/played/whatever. The very term “pile of shame” (from which the Squadron of Shame takes its name) is used to refer to one’s backlog of entertainment that has been purchased but not consumed — or, in some cases, the definition is stretched a little to include Stuff that the owner of said pile intends to consume at some point in the future, but perhaps hasn’t quite got around to just yet.

With books, it’s fine. Books are passed down from generation to generation; republished and republished. Today, we can keep a book alive forever by converting it to a digital format and scattering it to the four corners of the Internet. Sure, you lose some of the joy of turning paper pages and that distinctive musty smell they have, but at least the important bit — that’s the work printed on those pages, lest you forget — is immortalised. You can read it on your computer; on your tablet device; on your e-reader; on your phone. You can annotate it and share your thoughts with other people around the world in an instant. Books are just fine.

Music, too, has proven itself to be pretty timeless over the years — for the most part, anyway. Throughout history there has been plenty of “disposable” music, but the true greats endure for years. Look how long the works of Bach and Mozart have lasted — people are still listening to, performing and studying these pieces hundreds of years after they were first composed. In more recent years, look at how the music of artists such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles is still interesting and relevant today. In very recent years… well, it remains to be seen which artists (if any) will leave a lasting legacy on culture, but there will almost certainly be some. (And if there’s any justice, it won’t be anyone who has ever won or been involved with The X-Factor.)

Movies, too, have become increasingly timeless with the improvements in technology over the years. While once a movie only lasted as long as the medium on which it was physically printed, now, like books, we can archive and keep movies forever. Sure, some moviemaking techniques now look antiquated and are unpalatable to modern audiences, but those truly interested in the full history of the medium can trawl back as far as they wish and see how it has developed.

Games, though, are arguably a bit more tricky, as they have an inherent “expiry date” due to the numerous proprietary technologies involved. While emulation technology is getting better all the time, it’s still not perfect, and the legal grey areas surrounding it make it something that some people prefer to shy away from altogether. When you consider “PC” games, too, there’s even titles that are ostensibly on the same platform that will no longer run on more modern technology. Fortunately, there are places like GOG.com who aim to keep these titles alive for modern audiences, but eventually even their remastered, tweaked versions will “expire” as technology makes the next big leap forward. What happens when computers become wearable and we don’t use TVs any more? Will we still be able to play classic titles designed for the flat screen?

With all this, it’s easy to wonder how you can possibly get through all those things that you’re “supposed” to watch/read/see. The answer is surprisingly simple: don’t. Accept the fact that you’re never going to read Great Expectations; you’re never going to see Citizen Kane; you’re never going to listen to anything by The Smiths; you’re never going to get caught up on the Assassin’s Creed series. Cherry-pick the stuff you’re interested in, finish what you start, and don’t feel obliged to jump in to things just because they’re brand new and everyone is talking about them right now. Get to them when you have time to appreciate them rather than rushing through them in the ultimately futile attempt to feel “relevant”.

Crucially, enjoy (or at least appreciate) the culture you consume, whatever medium it’s in. Your tastes are your own, and no-one has the right to try and change them. People can share their own opinions, sure, and these may help sway your thoughts one way or the other, but ultimately your feelings about the things you like and dislike are entirely up to you. There’s no “correct” opinion; no gold standard of cultural awareness you need to aspire to; no “checklist” to complete. The sooner you recognise this fact, the sooner you can get on with working your way through that “pile of shame” — because there’s some great stuff in there that you haven’t discovered yet. And the stuff that is shiny and new right now will still be here in a few years time.

Take your time. Enjoy it. It’s the least you can do for the people who have invested their time, money, blood, sweat and tears into entertaining you.