T-shirt #55: Thunderbirds Are Go!
Back in the day--which one of my friends tells me was a Tuesday--we fans of the geeky genres (SF, fantasy, comic books, horror, etc.) were starved for material. I am not sure that people who were born since 1980 "grok" what it was really like to be a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, anymore than I "grok" what being a kid in the 1940s and 1950s was like. Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, there were a dearth of options for TV shows with science fiction or otherwise fantastic themes, especially in the live-action arena. Granted, there are many notable examples: Star Trek, Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, Planet of the Apes, Dark Shadows among many others. Later, we enjoyed shows I already mentioned like The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man, and shows I have yet to mention but will soon, such as Battlestar Galactica. And yes, these are abbreviated lists. I am omitting several good examples (Green Hornet and Batman, for instance). Still, I think it's a well-established fact that compared to today (even compared to the 2000s or 1990s), there are so many more options to satisfy the geek urge to see live-action depictions of SF, fantasy, horror, super-hero, or similar genre types TV shows (and I have not even touched on the animated world as that's another can of worms) that my statement stands: people born since 1980 do not truly understand what it was like back in the day, how starved we felt.
What's my point? We would pretty much watch anything no matter how bad it was. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think any of the shows I listed on my list were "bad." Or maybe it's just that I have a fondness for them all born of nostalgia. And, to some extent, the classic shows of the '60s and '70s have enjoyed resurgent fame due to the more sophisticated kids of today who have an appreciation for the cheesy '70s shows. These shows have become legends, touted by media of today (YouTube, the Internet, various TV shows) and their parents. Yesterday, my step son, when learning that Marvel is working on a new Hulk TV show, said: "if it doesn't have Lou Ferrigno, I am not interested." You would expect that would be something that I would say having grown up watching Ferrigno in my formative years. But my step son is cool (so is my step-daughter but that's a story for another time).
Today, many of these iconic TV shows of the past just do not measure up according to most of today's media consumers. How many parents have tried to share a beloved artifact of the 1960s or 1970s with a child of today (or a child of the recent yesterdays) and have it gone unappreciated or have it outright insulted with invective like "stupid" or "this is crap." Not everyone born since 1980 has an appreciation for what has gone before, which is not criticism. I am not trying to take some moral high ground that anyone "should" appreciate these artifacts of another era gone by. It is what it is. Not everyone is like my step-son. But this issue of appreciation for the past and adoration of the past based on nostalgia relates to the subject of my shirt today.
Thunderbirds is one such relic that may not stand the test of time and be appreciated by the media-savvy consumers of today. My love for it may be inseparable from my nostalgic adoration for it. Do I love it because it is truly a wonderful program for the time period, or do I love it because it came out in the late 1960s and was syndicated thereafter, and it was part of my formative years, and there was not much else on TV to watch at the time. After all, I owned a Thunderbirds coloring book. I am deeply invested. The images stir fond memories of childhood games and imagining what it would be like to have a hanger with my own spaceship in it.
Despite a 2004 film directed by STNG's Jonathan Frakes, Thunderbirds is not one of the most well-known or most loved relics of 1960s SF television, and it's not even arguably live action as it used puppets. Thunderbirds is well described in the Wikipedia page for anyone interested in really investigating it further. Simply, it was a British SF program, later syndicated in America and the subject of two films, produced from 1965-1966. It depicted the adventures of an International Rescue squad, who operated in secret from its hidden island headquarters. Set 100 years in the future, the Thunderbirds piloted sleek spacecraft and wore cool, color-coded uniforms. Special effects were well executed for the time period, and the characters were all depicted by marionette puppets with a "new" method called "Supermarionation."
The shirt brings back fond memories of watching Thunderbirds in black and white, unable to see the color as we did not yet own a color TV. It's also a yellow shirt, continuing my theme of yellow shirts for spring, though this theme will soon end as I only have so many such shirts. This shirt is my favorite among the small set of yellow shirts I own.
I hope the questions I have posed today provokes some interesting thoughts about the power of nostalgia, appreciation for media of another era, and how starved we were for any SF TV back then.
"Thunderbirds are GO!"
- chris tower - 1305.15 - 8:14
365 T-shirts - the reasoning
This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.
I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.
I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.
When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.
The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.
I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.
Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)