On this day back in 1966, Bobby Fuller of the Bobby Fuller Four, known for his iconic tune “I Fought the Law”, was found dead in his car in LA at the young age of 23. Leaving this world so young like his idol and fellow Texan, Buddy Holly, Fuller’s death was declared a suicide, but rumors abound as to possible other causes. That aforementioned classic tune was later remade with a harder edge famously by the Clash.
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On July 1st, 1941, viewers seen the world’s first TV commercial, a 20-second spot for Bulova watches. It isn’t on YouTube yet, but you’re not missing much: just a clock superimposed on a US map while an announcer says, “America runs on Bulova time.” Thankfully, commercials got a lot more interesting throughout the years, so here’s a look at some of the most unforgettable.
According to Wikipedia, punk rock bands “created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, embracing a DIY (do it yourself) ethic”.
This sounds familiar to me. It sounds like the greatest band of all time circa 1963 knocking out their first masterpiece in a marathon single day session. The Beatles had more edge than the Sex Pistols, rocked harder than the Clash, and had a revolutionary attitude that would make Black Flag blush. Simply put, the Beatles embodied all of the major punk rock ideals a decade and a half prior to the invention of the genre. Paul McCartney’s “1, 2, 3, 4” was not only the count in to the first punk rock song, but also the count in to the greatest revolutionary force of the 20th century. Vladimir Lenin, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong eat your heart out.
Never mind the bollocks, here’s the Beatles…
For those of us who don’t have cable or satellite television, good old-fashioned cartoons are hard to come by. When I was growing up, Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny, and Winnie-the-Pooh were Saturday morning staples, but things have changed in recent years. The best Warner Brothers and Disney shorts have been saved for DVD releases, while the airwaves are clogged up with cheap-looking anime knock-offs, family-friendly sitcoms, and bland “educational” programs that would bore anyone over the age of ten to tears.
But if you have Antenna TV, the retro-themed TV network that airs in at least 26 states, you can watch Totally Tooned In. Usually airing in three hour blocks early Saturday morning, it’s the place to see characters like Mr. Magoo, Fox and Crow, Gerald McBoing-Boing, Scrappy, and Lil’ Abner.
One sometimes wonders whether we need a new film category: the “Blockbuster Cult Classsic”. Of course, Cult Classics in the more conventional sense are films that were critically and popularly panned upon release but went on to make inroads to the collective consciousness, either through appreciation of their awfulness or critical re-assessment. But the question is, do films create “cults” only when initially unpopular? Or is “cultishness” defined by certain kinds of popularity?
One should immediately distinguish between “fanboyism” and “cultishness”. The kind of cult meant here is that of film buffs whose guiding criteria is quality, not nerd enclaves more concerned with esoterica for its own sake. Tricorder-bearing Trekkers and bow-slinging LOTR enthusiasts can definitely be described as “cultish,” but that’s another question for another day.
No, “Blockbuster Cult Classic” would signify a film that sold big at the box office but was not received to its fullest critical or popular potential until well after it had left theaters, a film that was always popular but achieved new heights only after the passage of time. Of course, films are constantly rising and falling in the estimations of the taste-makers. But some experience this roller coaster ride more than others, and many among them were huge ticket sellers and critical darlings.
Films like Ghostbusters, Casablanca, or The Godfather were extremely popular and well-received upon their releases but arguably didn’t achieve “cult” status until way later. Anyway, just a thought. Any other suggestions out there for “Blockbuster Cult Classics”?