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BMXing Back to the Future

I'm addicted to Jack Parow's nostalgia-inducing song I Miss, in which he lists some of the coolest things that kids experienced when growing up in the 1980s and 90s. This song takes me back to summer days spent exploring the neighbourhood on my BMX, rushing home after school to watch shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983 to 1985), always reciting the show's iconic phrase along with Prince Adam as he held his sword aloft and would say: "By the power of Greyskull ... I have the Power!"
Weekday mornings would be "morhpin time" with The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993 to the end of time); it was always an impressive act getting ready for school, eating breakfast, focusing on the show and trying to ignore my mother screaming at me to hurry up. All we 1980s and 90s kids fondly remember fighting over the remote control with siblings or parents to watch The A-Team (1983 to 1987). We grew up in an interesting time in terms of cinema, television and the rise of video games. All these platforms were being experimented with and improved until they hit a sweet spot that brings a lone tear to the eye (left one if you're a guy and right one if you're a girl.


A true story: I remember waiting for movies like Ghostbusters (1984), Back To The Future (1985) and 3 Ninjas (1992) to air on TV because my parents aren't cinema-going folk and we never got around to owning a VHS machine. I got to see a lot of re-runs of cool shows like Robotech (1985) that I missed when they aired originally because, you know, I was doing that being a baby thing. Most of my 90s were spent catching up on the 80s - I grew up on a healthy diet of Rice Krispies and re-runs.

The best thing about growing up in that era was the evolution of video games, though. I started out at the corner shops and arcades like all kids then. My friends and I would BMX to the store to buy bread and milk and steal 50 cent coins from the change to play titles like Tekken (1995), Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (1997) and the many iterations of King of Fighters since 1994. Weekends meant BMXing to the arcade to play the rail shooter, House of the Dead (1997) and never really getting around to finishing it before our tokens ran out. To this day I still take girls I'm on a date with to play that game should we walk by The Magic Company at a shopping complex. When gaming became a household thing I spent hours on my PC shooting up aliens on Mars in Doom (1993), single-handedly taking down Hitler's Third Reich in Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and doing trippy things in Jazz Jackrabbit (1994) - that game had to be developed by people high on drugs. Every kid of the day had a soft spot for consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (ol' NES and SNES). When I'd get bored with my video games I'd get on my trusty BMX and pedal to a friend's house to play on his SEGA Genesis - we'd sit in front of his TV avenging Ryu's dad in Ninja Gaiden (1988). This bliss would only last until 5pm each weekday and then your parents would shout at you to switch off your "TV game" so that they could watch Days Of Our Lives.

Becoming an adult

All-in-all, life was good and my only fear was turning 18 and becoming an adult. I imagined there was a switch in people's brains that was flicked when they turned 18 and their love of cartoons and video games flew out of the ol' window. I started scheming and plotting how to work my way around this tragic state of affairs. I sat in my lab (by which I mean my room) at night and worked on complex schemes to rid myself of this switch, the most practical of which involved a cranium saw and a stick of dynamite. As a generation, we managed to circumvent that switch and simply didn't outgrow the things we loved; we took them all and dragged them, kicking and screaming, into adulthood and forced them to grow up with us. We left nothing for kids growing up now; they have to sort themselves out, I guess.

Towards the end of I Miss, Jack Parow says: "There's a lot of good things that happened back then, but I can't keep going on about way back when so that's enough of that, no way no how, 'cause I'd miss all the shit that I'm doing now." I agree with this sentiment because we're living in cinema, television and video game heaven right now. Sure, many times it's hard for writers and developers to get things right and recreate the magic we remember from the past, but I have had more fun as an adult than as a child. All the cool movies and video games are mature now and usually come with an adult rating because all the kids from the 80s and 90s are making them, and we make what we loved, with the addition of adult themes.

He'd kill you and then have sex with your wife

This year alone has been great, what with awesome sauce like season two of Game of Thrones and season two of the BBC's brilliant Sherlock. We even took Batman and made adults love him with Christopher Nolan's take on the character. You can take your children to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in December, but you'll probably appreciate it more. You can't take them to see Cloud Atlas because they'll be bored and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is also pretty much off the cards. I'm looking forward to Skyfall next week because Daniel Craig is hard; you know he'd kill you and then have sex with your wife and you can't even hate him for it. Children missing out again, the poor schmucks. Sylvester Stallone collected almost every action star of the 80s and 90s and made the two Expendables (2010 and 2012) movies which revived the action genre for me. They are cheesy in the best way possible and the one-liners are magical. They're quite heavy-handed on the violence though.

All I can say is that it's great to be alive in a time to experience such great (and sometimes not-so-great) cinema, television and video games. I'm happy that my generation never got around to actually growing up. Go to the movies and watch some Cloud Atlas goodness and Alex Cross, which is surprisingly solid and means all that trash Tyler Perry always makes is on purpose! He probably sits on the money he makes from the Madea stuff and just laughs and laughs till he needs to pee and then he comes back after a pee break to laugh some more. Liam Neeson's still kicking people in the head in Taken 2 and I see Mel Gibson's doing a thing in How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Go see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 if you're that way inclined. There's lots to be seen and revel in. To all the gamers out there, get your grubby mittens on Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 2 whilst I save my pennies for Borderlands 2 and the Mass Effect Trilogy.

About Charles Siboto

Charles Siboto is a delightful, youngish person. He firmly believes that kindness matters and cannot abide people who are asshats.