Alf, Nostalgia and Perverts
By Monte Williams
Our school library has both the 1963 and the 1990 adaptations of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies on DVD. This is convenient, because I just finished reading the novel with two of my classes, and it’s nice that I won’t have to watch the same film two days in a row.
Today, I posted a clip from the ‘80s sitcom Alf on my English 9 Moodle page, because I dimly remember that the 1990 version of Lord of the Flies—which I will watch this week for the first time since 1990—includes a scene wherein one of the boys, wishing he was safe at home and watching TV, wonders aloud what Alf’s up to.
Here are some of the YouTube user comments in response to the Alf clip:
I wish I can go back to the 1980″s the shows were the best back then. Shows like Jem and the Holograms, the A- team, Knight Rider, Alf, Punky brewster, Remington Steele, Gimme a Break, etc. And the world was a better place.
I watched a lot of tv as a kid in the 80′s and all these theme tunes bring back awesome memories of when life was just a bit simpler! No texting, no cell phones, people still did ancient things like write letters, gift certificates were made of paper instead of plastic like all those stupid re-loadable cards, etc etc.
(Truly, nothing stands as a more succinct and tragic symbol of our cultural degradation than reusable gift cards. Goddamn you, Obama.)
The 80s were a great time to grow up. No phones buzzing in the pocket or YouTube or Facebook for distraction, one could spend a couple of hours to themselves relaxing for an hour or two and watching shows like this.
they dont make things like this anymore, reality shows??? SHOVE THEM UP YOUR ASS,WHY WOULD I CARE ABOUT THE REALITY OF SOMEONE LIFE? SOMETIMES I DONT EVEN CARE WHAT HAPPENS WITH MY NEIGHBOORS LIFE
What has happened to tv? TV was the best in the 80′s and 90′s. The characters and stories were entertaining. Now and days on tv everything is about sex and violence. I miss the innocence of the 80′s and 90′s sitcoms, some shows may have been corny but they were still endearing. Thank goodness for dvd’s and YouTUBE.
My favorite comment:
The most baffling comment:
I didn’t even live in the 80s but still I feel like I knew them when hearing this opening cause the music was so much better and so were the TV shows.
Dammit, I miss the 80s/90s.
The video thumbnails in the sidebar include the opening themes from Airwolf and Growing Pains. This is sensible; anyone nostalgic enough to regard Alf with warm fuzzies will obviously delight in just about any damn television series from the ‘80s. For most people, the definition of “masterpiece” is “that which is fondly remembered”.
Meanwhile, I also posted a trailer for each of the Lord of the Flies films on our Moodle page. At this point, I discovered something strange.
If you watch an Alf clip on YouTube, the site helpfully offers you more shitty TV shows from what is currently the most overrated decade in the history of American popular culture: the 1980s. If you watch the trailer or a scene from the 1990 Lord of the Flies film, you get things like “10 Smiles of Jack Merridew”. Jack Merridew is the central antagonist of the Lord of the Flies novel and films. The actor who portrayed Merridew in the 1990 film is Chris Furrh, who was sixteen when the film premiered, and who looks to be approximately eleven years old in the film. User comments include “Gosh Hes Frikkin Hot” and “Love you no matter what JACK MERRIDEW~” and “its not exactly a crush, more of a passionate adoration. chris furrh is old and is no longer jack” and “awww I love him so much. he’s cute and hot at the same time” and “hes so sexy” and “Jack is so hot!!! Too bad this is in 1990 and he’s like 27 now”.
Other video titles include “Jack is sexy & he knows it !” and “Jack explains why he’s hot.!!!”.
And then there is the trailer for the 1963 adaptation. This clip helpfully leads one to the entire 1963 film, available piecemeal for free on YouTube. I have not watched it yet, but in searching for footage of Piggy’s death to discover how the filmmakers managed to film such a scene in the early 1960s, I noticed that by the end of the film, some of the boys on the island are running around naked. Fair enough.
Next, I noticed the thumbnails that had loaded in the sidebar. Suffice it to say that Lord of the Flies includes scenes wherein young boys appear naked, or nearly so, and judging from the thumbnail stills, such scenes from other films are also popular on YouTube.
This blog is called Autobotic Asphyxiation. The name is taken from an essay I wrote for PopMatters in 2007. The essay’s thesis is that Transformers fans—but really fans of most any property, particularly any geek-friendly property—cannot engage in serious cultural discourse. Put simply, the essay attempts, somewhat clumsily as I recall, to draw a parallel between internet nerds who pitch petulant tantrums about Transformers and people who choke themselves while masturbating.
I now propose that the psychological defect that leads someone to insist that Alf is evidence of the superiority of ‘80s television over modern television is the same stunting defect that leads to pederasty; one manifests itself as blind nostalgia and solipsism while the other manifests itself as sexual perversion, but the defect is inherently the same at its core. Now I just need a zippy name for this phenomenon, like “autobotic asphyxiation”.
Hmm. Maybe it’s time to rename the blog.