Meet Mr. J.

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I refuse to give my opinion on the new image of Jared Leto as the Joker because at this very moment, my opinion has no basis. I have grown a bit leery of reactionary behaviors, and therefore will reserve judgment until I have seen the whole performance in action. What I will say is that I have faith in Jared Leto. I have never seen the man turn in sub-par work. His commitment to shaving off his epic beard, cutting his long hair and removing his eyebrows must have some bearing on the level of work he is doing to play this character. A man does not simply sacrifice that amount of hair without having a damn good reason.

The Joker has always been one of DC’s most compelling characters. More a force of nature than a man, even the slightest hint of his presence can bring fans to their knees. I think  what is interesting about this reaction is, I find it a bit reminiscent of the backlash we got when Heath Ledger was announced for The Dark Knight. I remember very clearly people losing their minds, yelling and screaming about how that pretty boy would never be able to cut it as Mr. J. Then the movie came out and what we were treated to was an Oscar-winning performance. People claimed there would never be an actor who would be able to fill Ledger’s shoes. That after his run, it would be decades before someone could play The Joker again. Strange that a mere seven years later, we are looking at a new actor playing the same role.

The thing about it though is, it isn’t actually the same role. The Joker, like all comic book characters is more conceptual than anything else. He represents a series of tropes and thoughts which are translated through various media to the intended audience. In the case of The Joker, we are looking at chaos, madness incarnate, pure evil. The problem of course is that madness, chaos and evil are all completely subjective. What is madness to one person can be completely sane to another.

According to Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan, the best version of The Joker was an anarchist. He was a man who was driven by a philosophical standpoint. Jack Nicholson and Tim Burton had a completely different view of the same character. Their incarnation was…well…Jack Nicholson. Then, of course there is Cesar Romero, who played the crown prince of crime like an overgrown child who simply wanted to take what wasn’t his. It is also interesting to note that Romero refused to shave his mustache to play the iconic character, instead opting to put thick makeup over it. Doesn’t sound nearly as committed to the role as Leto. Then of course, there is the ever brilliant voice-over work of Mark Hamill and a plethora of other voice actors in the animated series. What about the great work Andrew Koenig did in the short Batman: Dead End? For me, Koenig’s work was sublime.

A multitude of different actors have all given different interpretations of the same character, and somehow all of them seem to have captured the essence of what it is to be The Joker. Which means that there is actually no truly definitive Joker at all. This of course is only appropriate; he is after all, a character who has seventy-five years of history. He is a part of the American zeitgeist just as is his counterpart, Batman. All of this means that the Joker like almost all comic characters is something very specific and at the same time completely amorphous.

So far, all we have seen of Jared Leto’s Joker is this simple picture and a possible video of him testing out his voice at a concert. 

With all of this in mind, who am I to say that Jared Leto and David Ayer have not created an accurate depiction of their Joker, tattoos and all.

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Interview or Clickbait?

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No doubt many of us have seen the now infamous interview between Robert Downey Jr. and Krishnan Guru-Murthy. It seems that the general consensus is that Robert Downey Jr. was totally right in walking out on Guru-Murthy, as the journalist would not take no for an answer. It is interesting though. I have now had the chance to watch the interview twice and another interview Guru-Murthy did with Quentin Tarantino and have noticed that the interviewer clearly knows what he is doing as he pushes creative people to the edge.

If you pay very close attention to the Downey Jr. Interview, you will notice Guru-Murthy’s word choice changes drastically as the conversation moves toward its end. Everything starts out cordial enough. The questions being asked pertain to the film being promoted. Downey Jr. has answered these questions about a million times in the past since this is his fifth outing as Iron-Man (sixth if you count his appearance in The Hulk) but that is part of the gig, and he seems happy to participate.

Then Guru-Murthy takes a strange turn. He asks the actor about the parallels between his life and that of his character, Iron-Man. We all know about Downey Jr.s past and how it oddly parallels the trajectory of his character. This was discussed at length in 2008 when the first film came out. So why ask the question? Simply to set up a follow-up which is obviously designed to insult Downey Jr. Notice that after the actor answers the question Guru-Murthy states “He’s become a much more likeable character isn’t he? A better man. In a way. That you are as well, I suppose.”

This is the key point. The tonal shift in the interview. Downey Jr. politely brushes off the not very subtle insult to his character with an impish smile and a, “Sure.” A very well done maneuver which indicates he is not without denying his past but has moved forward with his life. He deserves to not be harassed about his past indiscretions. Indiscretions which he has apologized for and spoken about on multiple occasions when the time was appropriate.

From this point forward Guru-Murthy begins to ambush Downey Jr. with a series of questions which have nothing at all do with the film he is promoting. Guru-Murthy even tells Downey Jr. that he doesn’t have to answer the questions if he doesn’t want to. The problem is that the interviewer isn’t telling the truth. When the actor refuses to answer the questions posed, Guru-Murthy either asks them again or rephrases to make it seem like he is moving on, when in reality he is just harassing a man who is attempting to sell a product.

There is even a point when Downey Jr. asks, “Are we promoting a movie?”…”What are we doing?” At this very moment, the camera pans in on Downey Jr.’s face as he prepares to leave. This was clearly designed as clickbait. From the moment that Guru-Murthy insults Downey Jr. to the moment he walks off set, everything is controlled. The interviewer intentionally pushes the actor to a breaking point and it is clear that he knows he is doing it.

Robert Downey Jr. was completely right in walking out. This type of interview is designed to be a commercial for a film. It is not, nor should it ever become, a personal tell all. Downey Jr.’s job, in this instance, is to sell the film and Guru-Murthy’s is to facilitate the selling of said film. Instead, it seems that the interviewer is much more interested in creating controversy and causing drama to drive up the ratings of his show. Let’s give the man credit, he did accomplish his task. Up until this week, I had no idea who Krishnan Guru-Murthy was. Now I have watched two videos of him making entertainers angry in interviews.

In the long run, that interview ended several minutes before Robert Downey Jr. walked out. Once the questions moved away from the movie and into personal territory, Guru-Murthy broke the tacit rules of the agreed upon format. A transgression which Robert Downey Jr. very calmly pointed out when he said, “It’s just getting a little Diane Sawyer.”

You are one cool cucumber Robert Downey Jr.

Downey Sawyer

I Didn’t Like this Weeks All New X-Men. You May Be Surprised Why.

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I love X-Men; always have, probably always will. I had a six-foot long poster of the four X-Men covers Jim Lee drew taking up an entire wall in my bedroom from elementary school all the way through college. I am also a huge fan of Brian Michael Bendis’s work. If I can get my hands on it, I will read it. This includes his run on All New X-Men. The story was a brilliant twist on the tried and true time travel tales we have seen so many times before in the X books. So, what is my problem?

JEAN GREY!!!!!!!!!

I have never been a huge fan of Jean Grey. She has always seemed a bit weak as a character to me. Her relationship with Cyclops became tiresome at best. Cyclops’s story got considerably better once he became involved with Emma Frost. Jean always seemed to hold him back, while Emma brought out the true leader in him. I could go on for days about why Emma is a better companion for Scott but this post isn’t about that.

If you haven’t read this weeks All New X-Men or don’t know the twist already, now is the time to turn away.  

 This most recent issue put the final nail in the why I don’t like Jean Grey coffin. There was absolutely, positively, no reason why she should have ever told Bobby “Iceman” Drake that he is gay. My problem is not about Bobby being gay. It is about Jean and the irresponsible and frankly intrusive way in which she used her powers.

So, Bobby is gay. Excellent! He is a great character, with an awesome power set and a fantastic personality. If Bobby Drake were a real person, I would try my damnedest to make him my friend, because Bobby is the shit.

Jean, on the other hand, had no right to do what she did. I understand that sometimes she has a hard time not hearing people’s thoughts. I get that human behavior can be confusing, but for her to turn to Bobby and simply declare, “Bobby…you’re gay.” was unfair to Iceman.

Human sexuality is a complex thing, and each person should be allowed to come to his or her own conclusions, about his or her personal sexual orientation, in his or her own time. That’s right, Jean crossed a very personal line and then proceeded to play it off like it was no big deal. She made Bobby’s struggle to come to terms with who he is all about her. Her reasoning for telling him about what she found while digging around in his head was that she didn’t understand why he said to Illyana, “You’re hot.” Perhaps she felt that she needed to come to Illyana’s aid, in which case pointing out to Bobby that he was being rude should have been her tack. Did she do that? No, she just decided to tell Bobby that he was gay. Not cool, Jean.

Jean doesn’t really know what Bobby’s personal feelings are. She doesn’t seem to care that he hasn’t come to this conclusion yet, and therefore there may be some reason why. If she were actually the good friend she claims to be, she would have supported him in his personal journey as he came to this conclusion himself. He was never given the opportunity to develop his own concept of what his sexual identity was, because she just pulled him out of the closet.

In my life, I have encountered a plethora of people I could swear are of any multitude of sexual orientations who were not a) aware or b)accepting their own orientations. The fact that I have assessed it for myself should have no bearing on their journey. Hell, I could even be wrong in my assessment. It happens all the time.

I myself have been inaccurately labeled. I had a girl at a party ask me if I was gay though I had only met her a couple of times before. I gave her an answer which was,”No.” In retrospect I wish I had told her, “That isn’t really any of your business.” Maybe she came to this conclusion because I told her about how much I like to cook. Maybe it was because I said I was in show choir. None-the-less, If I had chosen to reveal my orientation of my own volition, that is my business. To force someone out of the closet, or to demand to know, is unfair.

That is my problem with this weeks issue of X-Men. Jean Grey was completely unfair to Iceman. His orientation is his concern, and his concern only. If she were a true friend, she would have supported him as he found out who he was for himself.

Best Left Dead

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If I have learned anything from horror movies, it is that some things are best left dead. Just this week, it was announced that Full House would be revived on Netflix with a new series called Fuller House. To this I give a resounding NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Here is the deal, I don’t hate Full House, quite the contrary in fact. I liked the original show and have seen every episode at least once. I grew up watching it and even now, I will watch an episode or two if there is nothing else to see. I know that seems a bit surprising to people who know me. Most people would recognize it as a bit on the icky sweet side for my current tastes, and it is. Yet, it still gives me a bit of kick. It is a throw back to the time when all I really had to worry about was whether or not my parents were going to make something I liked for dinner. A time when the world was small and its worries were not mine.

The big problem with this idea is that Full House had its time. It was clearly a product of the ’90s. It focused on issues of that time period and the increasing number of unconventional familial unites. Instead of a mother and a father, the girls in the series were treated to three males who banded together to raise them. Each of these men struggled with their concepts of identity and masculinity, as they walked a fine line between father, friend and mother. The girls themselves were the center of stories which revolved around major concerns of the time including teen smoking, body image, and gender identity, but all in a very wholesome TGIF manner. My problem is that this show has served its purpose. I don’t need to see D.J. struggle to raise three sons (what a plot twist).

The same can be said of a plethora of shows which keep being dragged back from cancellation like Boy Meets World, Heroes, Twin Peaks and Arrested Development. So far two of these shows have already aired new seasons and both of them have been underwhelming at best. Girl Meets World is essentially unwatchable. Where its predecessor was filled with charm and characters the viewers actually gave a damn about, the current show is simply derivative and the characters are irritating. The new version of this show has done nothing to move the story forward. Corey and Topanga’s daughter is obnoxious and her best friend is a complete rip off of the Shawn Hunter (a character played much better by Rider Strong). Corey has been slid into the role of Mr. Feeny, but he is not nearly as commanding a presence. To cap it off, no public school would allow a teacher to teach his or her own daughter unless there was no other choice. To be honest, I didn’t even make it all the way to the end of the first episode.

Arrested Development on Netflix simply lost its charm. Once again, this is a situation of a show completely mired in its time. The original revolved around the economic downfall of a rich family due to corporate greed and malfeasance. It could not have been more timely. The show which aired in 2003 almost perfectly predicted the housing market crash and the negative behaviors of large companies and banks. Upon its resurrection, the Bluth family became mired in an insanely meta-fictive tale about attempts to get a movie made about them. It simply left a bad taste. Some of the once likable characters were forced to do horrible, unlikable things and the show kept throwing in references to when it was actually funny (wink wink). By the end of the Netflix season when George Michael punches his father in the face, I felt like I was on the receiving end of Michael Cera’s weak jab.

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So many shows are now attempting to recapture their glory days. For Heroes, that was season one of the series. The writer’s strike of 2007-08 caused almost irreparable damage to the second season, which was forced to wrap up loose ends in a frenzy for fear that it would never get another chance. By the time the series had finished, I think I was the only person left in the world who actually gave a damn. I know that I am going to give Heroes Reborn a look, but I am not holding my breath that it will be any good. Only a smattering of the original cast members are coming back. In the long run, with all of the superhero stuff out right now, is this show even going to matter at all?

So often, I turn on my computer or the television and hear about some group petitioning to bring back a show that they loved. A show that was wrongfully canceled or treated poorly by executives. These groups are all hoping for a brilliant coda akin to the Firefly film Serenity but that was an anomaly. Firefly was not actually a story of its time like so many others, it was a tale of the future. A tale of what could be. Yet even the die-hard Firefly fans can’t seem to accept that it is done. Wash and Book are dead. Deal with it and move on with your life.

The sad truth is that resurrections almost never go off correctly. In the end the fans are generally left with a hollow, soulless, husk of their former loved ones. A mass of characters and rehashed scenarios, shambling through their paces, looking to devour your brains.

I Am The Worst

I Knew It

It is sad but true, I am THE WORST. In the scheme of good and bad people, I am, overall good. Unfortunately, when it comes to entertainment, I AM THE WORST. I readily admit it. What makes me THE WORST is that I knew it. What is “it” exactly? “It” is everything. I know all of the plot twists, all of the reveals, everything before it ever even airs. This isn’t because I spend every second of the day seeking out spoilers. On many levels, I do my best to avoid spoilers. The real problem is everything that exists within my head, spoils everything I watch and read.

My girlfriend and I enjoy watching television and movies together. It is a nice way to unwind after a long hard day at work. When we first started dating, we developed a bit of a trade-off system. She showed me Parks and Rec. and I introduced her to King of the Hill. She loved Doctor Who and when my turn came, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The problem is, I knew it. Be warned, that from this point forward, there may be spoilers peppered through this piece.

As we sat one evening watching Doctor Who, I turned to Molly and immediately identified exactly what River Song’s true identity was. My revelation came more than an episode before the reveal. So far, while watching Downton Abbey, I have accurately predicted three character deaths and a plethora of other plot twists. I long ago took a vow of silence when it came to entertainment which is new to the person I am viewing it with, but I do feel like if the film or show is only new to me, I have the right to voice my prediction. I don’t want to be the guy who ruins films and t.v. for people but if they have already seen it, I feel it is a bit of a no harm, no foul situation.

To me, predicting the future of a television show or movie is more than just for bragging rights. It is a puzzle; an exercise I use to keep my own personal story telling skills up to par. I feel that if I can test myself against some of the most popular work currently in circulation, I must have a good grasp of the story telling techniques of the current time period.

I have long pondered how it is that I know the outcomes weeks, months or sometimes even years in advance and the only answer I have to give is that all fiction adheres to a series of patterns and tropes. Each and every genre has a specific set of rules which can be subverted but never completely removed. Once this concept is stacked on top of the fact that I have spent almost my entire adult life analyzing fiction, first as a student and then as a college instructor, no show or movie has a chance.

Almost all entertainment is either character or plot driven. With that in mind, it only takes a few mental questions to determine what would best move the plot or lead character forward. I the case of Downton Abbey, the show is heavily plot driven. Yes, there are interesting characters who certainly deserve their screen time but the overall story is about how the comings and goings of these people effect the estate itself. That means that not a single character is safe. Anyone can die at almost any time and if the character is no longer moving the plot forward, it is only a matter of episodes before he or she is written out of the show. The same can be said of Game of Thrones. 

As for Doctor Who, the entire show is completely character driven. Note the difference in title names. between these three shows. This in turn means that everything which takes place on Doctor Who, must have some sort of personal ramification that will eventually effect the Dr. and how he changes as a character.

Each of these shows will also follow the conventions of its genre. This means that there are certain plot twists which can be ruled out all along. For example, we will never find out that Lord Grantham is actually a serial killer who has been making tapestries for the estate out of the dyed flesh of his victims. This is obviously an extreme example but it is valid nonetheless. Therefore, familiarity with the conventions of genre are a must.

Then of course, there is character. Each character in every piece of fiction will always fit some sort of predetermined arch. In order to be true to the character, his or her actions and reactions are almost predetermined. A hero can fail or fall from grace but he or she must always maintain a level of self. A villain may become a hero, but the darker tendencies still exist which means that he or she can never be fully trusted.

Context clues are also a factor in guessing the eventual plot twist. Everything that every character does or says is key to making these logical leaps. Even the things that they don’t say matter. Last night I made two predictions.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A DOWNTON ABBEY SPOILER IF YOU ARE NOT PAST SEASON 3. While Molly and I watched Downton Abbey, I knew that Matthew was going to die. He had done everything in his power to right the family’s finances. He had produced a suitable male heir, and thus effectively outlived his usefulness to the success of the estate. This meant that he had to go. The only question was when. It had to be some sort of tragic accident, as Matthew was clearly in good health. My first prediction was that he would be trampled to death by a buck. It was set up in the show that he is not the world’s best shot and I thought he would hit the buck but not kill it. The buck would charge him in anger and that would be the end of him. My mistake was in making his death to early in the episode. Then he had to get to the hospital. There it was, a car accident, how perfectly mundane. A bland death for a likeable but overall bland character.

END SPOILER

This is the process. It is the same exact process that  allowed my friend Steve and me to predict the exact layout and movie titles of Marvel’s Phases 2 and 3 at the end of Phase 1. Does this mean that I don’t enjoy entertainment? Of course not. I love t.v. and movies. For me, it is about how well the product is made. It doesn’t really matter that I knew it. Rest assured however that if you haven’t seen it before, I promise I won’t tell you.

Daredevil: Why Violence Matters

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I will admit that I have not yet finished Daredevil on Netflix. As of this very moment I have watched the first six episodes. I am going to attempt to avoid major spoilers but I won’t make any promises so please read this at your own risk.

So many have spoken about the violence level in the new Marvel and Netflix show Daredevil. This violence is considerably higher than that in any other Marvel property as of the moment. The only films I can think of which may have matched Daredevil in the level of blood are perhaps Blade and the always awful Punisher: War Zone (a movie I had high hopes for, as I was a huge fan of Lexi Alexander’s Green Street Hooligan’s). Daredevil is the first time that we have ever been privy to the idea that real violence has real consequences

The brilliance of what Marvel and Disney have done in conjunction with Netflix is that they have taken the most adult content oriented material and placed it on a pay-for-view platform, allowing it to blossom. This is not the large blockbuster movie where the hero can be beaten up but at the end of the day goes home and shrugs it off. Here, in the land of streaming television, a punch leaves a bruise and a stabbing leaves a bleeding hole.

Time and time again, we have been treated to men and women of godlike powers and skills who never make mistakes in battle, who deal out one hundred hits for every single one they receive. Though these tales are fun, and I am happy to shell out my money every summer to watch the spectacle play out on-screen, this is not the real world. In the real world, a fight is a battle of attrition. A person only wins when his or her opponent is physically or mentally broken and can no longer continue forward.

Unlike Thor, Hulk, Iron-Man and the other Avengers, Matt Murdock is simply a man. He is not a highly trained government assassin or a super soldier. The only thing that makes Matt super is his will. Matt is not a world level savior, he patrols Hell’s Kitchen, a portion of New York which is not even one square mile in area.

So, why does the show have to be so violent? Quite simply, because this level of violence would be the truth of a real life street level vigilante. Murdock does not have the crazy gadgets of Batman, all he has is his fist, feet, and billy clubs. This means that the odds of him being able to restrain an assailant are slim, particularly if there is more than one assailant. He must beat them into submission. This is what has always made Daredevil one of the grittier Marvel heroes. Even his childhood before his fateful accident was steeped in violence. Matt was raised by a father who’s only true skill was fighting. His entire world has been built around fists. Violence is what put food on the table.

The key component in the brilliance of this series is how the violence is handled. As a third degree black belt, I have spent many years covered in the bruises of unblocked kicks and punches. Hell, sometimes even the blocked stuff leaves bruises. We watch Matt show up at Claire Temple’s place time and time again searching for true medical assistance. He winces and moves stiffly after his long nights of fighting crime. He takes a hit, and he stops to regain his bearings and asses if he can continue forward or must retreat to fight another day.

There has been much discussion of the now famous hallway fight in the second episode. The true greatness is not in the fight  however, it is the broken moments between the punches; the stops in action where Matt leans against the wall or stays prone on the floor gathering his breath. To the martial arts student, these silent moments are life. This is what is referred to as recovery time. It is the second or two in which the brain can asses the situation and the breathing and heart rate can be brought down just enough for one more push. A martial artist will always know how to maximize the amount of recovery time he or she gets and we see that with Matt. His moves are precise and not wasteful, everything has its purpose. The use of recovery time and the minimalistic approach to fighting is the difference between winning and losing.

Then there is Wilson Fisk, a man who to the point I am in at the show has only used his physical prowess once. He too is a violent man who to some level is disgusted by violence. Fisk has no desire to get his hands bloody often leaving the dirty work to underlings. He would much rather focus on the finer things in life. Art, food, love; these are the true passions of The Kingpin. Yet when push comes to shove, Fisk will shove hardest. He, like Murdock understands that violence is a necessary evil. This is incredibly funny when we consider how truly identical these two characters are. Both want to control the city in which they live and both will go to any lengths necessary to mold their home in his own personal image.

It is interesting to think that Matt’s crusade against Kingpin would break the city into warring criminal factions. While if Fisk were in control, the level of violence within the city would likely drop to all time lows. We root for the vigilante who claims to love the law while spending his nights assaulting the citizenry, yet the man who is carefully orchestrating the violence in the city making sure that it will eventually hit record low due to his strangle hold over the criminal element is the most derided character in the whole show.

Y: We Are Not Millennials

Rob-Zombie

Recently I have had several conversations which revolve around what used to be conceptually called Generation Y. In more recent years, anyone born much after 1982 has been lumped into a large group called the Millennial Generation. It is a funny thing though, many of my friends and I seem to be clinging to our roots as Generation Y. We see ourselves as a completely different entity which came between Generation X and the current generation. Over the past few days, I have been ruminating about why we are so insistent that we are our own entity.

I was born in 1983. I have an older sister, eight cousins on my father’s side of the family and two on my mother’s. On my father’s side, six of these cousins are older than I am. The other two are only slightly younger. My sister was born in 1980, leaving her on the razors edge which separates the generational gap. I spent my entire life surrounded by Gen X. They exposed me to their world, and though I was young, it had a profound effect on me. My identity was molded in many ways by these cousins and their friends.

There is so much more to being Generation Y than simple proximity to Gen X. I grew up in a world that was very different from that of the Millennial generation. I am not very good with computers. I learned to type on an Apple 2e, a beast of a machine which required I load the word processing program off of an eight inch floppy disk. Its only display color was a flickering green which haunted my dreams when I had a big project due. I had to feed the printer each individual sheet of paper, one at a time.The internet did not exist as we know it today. It wasn’t until junior high that I remember being told I had to type in “http://www.” before every single web address. Search engines were far off in the future.  I thought the net was a fad.

The world changed in a massive way in late 1991 when the USSR fell. I was eight years old and I remember feeling a sense of relief, knowing that the looming threat of war with the Soviets was over. Not long after its announcement on television, my family and I were in a Costco where they were selling bottles of Stolichnaya marked “Product of the USSR.” My parents purchased one. It sits in a cabinet still unopened to this day. Every time I look at that bottle, I flashback to the Cold War.

I grew up watching The Simpsons, which launched its first season in 1990. I remember the conservatives of the time attacking the show for being inappropriate for young viewers. I never really understood the controversy, as I didn’t understand the innuendo and euphemisms laced within the show. As an adult, I love going back and re-watching the first eight seasons and being amazed at what the FCC let them get away with.

We were alive for The Gulf War (which lasted less than a year). I watched the news in second grade when “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf led his forces in a war that lasted just a bit longer than a blink of the eye. So we watched Bush Sr. battle Saddam Hussein.

We lived in peace time, with a few small hiccups.

Generation Y listened to Korn, Slipknot and Eminem. Blink-182 and The Offspring were our punk. Nu Metal was our jam and as much as we hate to admit it, most of us have heard “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit more times than we should have. Some people think Rob Zombie is creepy, but for us, he is our Astro Creep and we will follow him with The Devil’s Rejects through the House of 1000 Corpses. Eve 6 and the New Radicals were easy listening. On my way to the comic shop on Wednesdays, “Dig” by Mudvayne and “The Way You Like It” by Adema blasted out of the stereo in my friends truck (which had a sticker on the back touting, “Life’s a Beach).

We were alive when Image Comics was formed. When nothing was cooler than Youngblood and Spawn. Generation Y watched Superman die at the hands of Doomsday (we were already jaded enough to know it was a publicity stunt). We even watched an industry almost die at the hands of speculators. I had cut an article out of the LA Times about Marvel filing for Chapter 11 and taped it to my bedroom door. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it meant for the world of comics, but I knew it was important. That article stayed taped to my door for a decade.

We know that the only good Star Wars films were episodes four through six. Episodes one through three sucked. We hope that “The Force Awakens” will be good, but we aren’t holding our breaths.

Generation Y has long been aware of the racial divide in this country. We witnessed the beating of Rodney King in 1992. This type of footage was rare at the time because it actually required a bystander to have a camcorder and not a cell phone (which were about the size of a brick at the time). We watched on the television as LA erupted into a week of riots. On the first day of rioting, Gen Y saw Reginald Denny pulled from his truck and beaten within an inch of his life by The LA Four.

We watched a white Ford Bronco prove that a slow speed chase is just as effective as a high speed one. If you don’t get this reference, you aren’t Gen Y

We saw Bush lose to Clinton. We watched Dole grip his pencil tightly in his hand and speak about himself in the third person. Ross Perot melted down right before our very eyes.  We saw Clinton muse about the definition of the word, “is”. On Saturday Night Live, Phil Hartman crammed his face full of McDonald’s, pointing out our President’s love for fast food (he is vegan now).

In 2000, some of us even got the chance to vote in a presidential election for the first time. I missed the cut off. What I didn’t miss was the first time since 1888 that a man became the president while losing the popular vote. I also learned about chads (and that doesn’t refer to the guy who sat behind me in English class).

I graduated high school in 2001. Just before I entered college, two planes flew into The World Trade Towers and one into the Pentagon. I was 18 years old. Some of the people in my graduating class went to college and some went to war. I lived through my undergraduate work while politicians talked about instituting the draft. I wondered, if it came to pass which of us would be the first to be chosen to go to war. Would it be me?

One day, I turned on the television to find that our troops had shifted gears from searching for Bin Laden to fighting Saddam Hussein (wait, Bush vs. Hussein, haven’t we lived this life before?).

I suppose what I am saying is that what separates Gen Y from the Millennials is the changes we have seen in the world. We have seen so much of what is going on right now happen before. Generation Y lives in a perpetual state of Deja Vu. We even stand to watch another presidential race between Bush and Clinton this year. The only difference is we don’t have to keep a quarter in our shoes to call home anymore.