Have you seen The Avengers yet? Oh you have. Well that’s okay, but have you seen the new trailer for Spiderman? And what was up with that last episode of 30 Rock? It was good, but not as good as The Arctic Monkeys’ latest album. Which, in turn, really isn’t a patch on that YouTube video of that kid dancing to a Salman Khan song in his underwear. But honestly, the best of the lot is the latest episode of season twelve of House MD. Most of you are thinking “What on earth is he talking about?”, others are thinking “Wait, there’s no season twelve of House MD”, and some of you are thinking “I wish Katrina Kaif came to my house and ate mangoes” but that’s another story for another day.
The problem is those of you who are thinking “there’s no season twelve of House”. You are the problem. And I’m here to say that you’re no longer my problem. I’m laying down my weapons. I quit. I can no longer keep pace with the arms-race that is pop-culture consumption. We lived in a simpler time once, where we had just one channel that showed He-Man, the Mahabharata and Ashok Saraf-Laxmikant Berde movies. You parked yourself in front of that, and the next day, you were ready for pretty much any conversation anyone threw at you. Except for when your teachers asked you things, but they wanted you to be educated and all that unimportant rubbish, so never mind them. I turned out fine without that, Me grammar are just fined.
But these days we live in the world of the internet. In the world of broadband and hard-drives, in a land of computers that can run TV shows, movies, scanned comic-books, pirated e-books, ripped music and cracked video games. And most importantly, we live in a land where everyone has at least one smug friend who has consumed more of each of those than you. By smug, I mean a****le, and by friend, I mean a****le. This is how a typical conversation with him goes; You: “So, I saw Breaking Bad season one. It’s pretty good!”Smug: “Season one? HA! Dude, I’m on season four.”
You: “Haan, what I mean is I saw season one again, after finishing season four, because it’s just that good.”Smug: “Yeah but did you watch the little web-series they did to bridge season one and two? And surely you saw the movie they came out with to show you what happens between episode three and four? And please tell me you’ve bought the t-shirt that has the poem on it that tells you what happens to them in the two minutes of the second ad-break of episode six.” You: “I hope you buy a dog and love it very much, and I hope one day a bus hits it.”
I blame piracy, though I use the term blame loosely. Let me rephrase. I berate-for-the-purpose-of-this-column-but-still-largely-applaud-and-swear-to-forever-be-a-servant-of piracy. Piracy is the McDonalds of pop-culture. It makes otherwise-foreign material available to you, at a marginal cost, anywhere in the world, often at a rate faster than you can consume it. It’s turned pop-culture into a pissing contest. The difference being, you can’t pee at 720p.
It’s created a world of pop-culture junkies, where everything is a reference, and being able to understand that reference gets you a seat at the cool kids’ table. If you can’t, then remember, sleep is for wusses, and you’re better off staying up and, well, studying. Or resign yourself to the lower rungs, where nobody knows what the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 are, and Game of Thrones is when your friends and you all run to get to the loo first. I once tried an experiment on the smug friend’s hard-drive. I went through every single TV show/movie/game/comic-book he had and checked it against its retail value. He had roughly $30,000 worth of pop-culture on him, an amount he would never have been able to legally afford in his lifetime. But consume it he did. And talk about it we did. It was a great conversation. Did you not hear it? It happened in the audio-book/graphic-novel crossover we released between seasons three and four.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi