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Today on A.V. Club, my go to website for pop culture news and reviews, an article popped up in which A.V. Club writers answered the question, “what pop culture that you once loved became a chore”. As I read through the varied responses (from card games, to television to collectible figures) I found myself nodding in agreement. Although I have never collected cards for games like Magic, I did, as a youngster, collect baseball cards. I know, the irony of someone who has never liked baseball collecting baseball cards. I get it. But I used them to form my own team and laid them out on the carpet in positions and hit a piece of paper with a pencil and… well, the rules are complicated and drawn out and I have already said too much. And although I have never collected Simpson’s figurines like one of the reviewers did, it should come as no surprise that I have collected and abandoned many types of other figures. So while I understood at the core of my being, it was not until I got to the final entry that this article truly hit home.
The abandoned pop culture project: The mega large novel, I would agree with the word gargantuan, by David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest. I had forgotten that I abandoned this book ages ago until today. My first attempt to read this book began about fifteen years ago. I got to page 92. I normally love books that are non-traditional in format and style. I flew through an equally gargantuan book called House of Leaves, complete with appendices and footnotes and stuff written in the margin. But Infinite Jest, well, I have thrice gotten to page 92 and for three different reasons, I stopped. I gave the book to my dad to try after my second failure. He got a bit further than me but returned the book about a year later, not too pleased with me for trying to force him to do what I could not. So I tried again, if just to show him that I could do it. No. Eventually I moved out west and the book got left behind in a box, bookmark still in place. I have seen it over the years on bookshelves of friends and friends of friends and I always ask, “did you finish?” One day that answer will be yes, but not this day! The A.V. Club reviewer, Mark, got farther than anyone I have ever met but he admits he will likely never finish. One day, I hope to meet someone who has actually finished this, what is supposedly an essential novel of the 1990s, and I will cheer and hug that person and then have them tell me what I need to know so I never have to read it myself.
All of this got me thinking, what pop culture that I once loved has become a chore? This is easy, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series currently getting to ready to enter its third cycle (aka season 10). When the comics started up again after the series ended, I was fully on board. When Buffy ended its television run, we all felt that giant-sized hole. The Season 8 comics showed us what happened after the television series ended, showed us what Joss could do with an unlimited budget (because, in comics, you only have to write and draw it and it happens). Joss wrote many of the comics, as did recognizable names from the Buffyverse. It all felt like a continuation of the very thing I was not ready to leave behind.Every month, I raced to the comic store, snagged my copy and read it in the car. I can almost say that The Buffy comic was the impetus to get me collecting single issues again. I had not really spent the time or money since I moved to Los Angeles but Buffy brought me into the shop and that renewed my love for comics and comic shops, specifically my shop of choice, Golden Apple Comics. Fast forward to about three-quarters of the way through the two-year Season 8 run. Joss had stepped back from the writing (he’s kind of busy), the story got more and more silly and slightly out of hand and I became less enthusiastic. I stuck with the comic through the entire two-year Season 9 run (yes, it takes me awhile to commit to quitting) through all the Zompires and weird romances and character disappearances. Eventually the comic ended up in the bottom of my pile, sometimes abandoned until I had nothing else to read. I would begrudgingly pick it up and read words that seemed to be the right words but with the wrong tone or at the wrong time. And although I do get what the writers are trying to do, if a layman picked up the book, they would never know how far from the original voice we had come. This saddens me. When the final issue of Season 9 did nothing to convince me otherwise, I declared a full embargo on further Buffy comics. Now to decide what to do with my stack of 48 comics that I will likely never read again! The downside of being a nerdy collector rears its ugly head!
Read the original A.V. Club article here
What formerly great pop culture have you abandoned? I seriously want to know. @StephersRG