If working in the “music industry”---or at least the “jamband industry”---for the past three-and-a-half years has taught me anything, it’s that everything that was once cool will one day be cool again (or at least ironic). How else can you explain Lionel Richie’s sudden rebirth as a hipster icon besides, of course, his cool daughter and her ironically iconic friend.
Unfortunately, though, I’m the type of person who catches onto trends a tad late---at least by industry standards. I got into Phish in ‘97 not ‘94, My Morning Jacket in ‘03 not ‘01, and Cold Wards Kids last Friday not last Thursday. By the time I latch onto a trend, it’s usually preceded by a “post,” and by the time I embrace that prefix, it’s usually been amended to include the word “revivalist.”
That is, of course, until today.
Indeed, for the first time I’ve stumbled across a trend early enough to dub myself not only a trailblazer, but also a trendsetter. So, critics, bloggers, friends, and girls who will likely remove me from their “top eight” after reading this post, mark down today, March 19, as the day it became cool (again) to “transform and roll out.”
That’s right, Transformers, the small, metal toys that blurred the line between creativity and consumerism---and which taught my generation that both good and evil come with a proof of purchase---are back.
For me, this falls somewhere between the second coming and a court ordered Phish reunion for seeing Transformers: The Movie was the single defining moment of my childhood (luckily I never walked in on my parents playing with their action figures).
In retrospect, Transformers: The Movie was the first time I experienced death (RIP Optimus Prime), the first time I heard rock music meshed with animation (Stan Bush’s synth-driven hit “The Touch”), and the first time I sat through an epic tale (a Christ-like story of failure, betrayal, and redemption intended to introduce a line of new toys in time for the holidays). It is also-- no joke-- Orson Welles’ final film which allows me to call this my Citizen Kane without risking my English degree.
As an anti-social child with a vivid imagination, I remember skipping a play date with my friend Robert Blum to watch the movie after it came out on video, and as an anti-social adolescent with some pothead friends, I remember combing the film for hidden literary references (so far I can pinpoint Faust, The Sword and the Stone, and, um an appearance by Casey Kasem ). I’m pretty sure I have a copy of the film hidden under my pillow like a Playboy, but, for the past two decades, liking Transformers has been as cool as ‘80s music in the Phish-era or Phish-music in the ‘80s-revivalist era (don’t tape over your second generation copies of Gamehendge just yet, as Optimus Prime foreshadows, “we will rise again.”)
But now, two decades later, I have reached the point in my 40 Year Old Virgin-like Transformers addiction where my favorite childhood movie has gone from being cool (age 6) to embarrassing ( age 8) to really embarrassing (age 10) to endearing (age 12) to nostalgic (age 14) to stoner-approved (age 16) to, finally, ah, cool again (age 26). I’m not sure what happened during those last ten years, but, apparently, those sentiments are captured on three-different DVD box sets available for the low price of $19.99.
It helps that a live action Transformers film is slated for a summer 2007 release and that Stan Bush is pitching the film’s producers for a spot on the soundtrack (I foresee either a Disco Biscuits remix or, at least, a Come on Falcon cover in the next 6-8 months). Either way, don’t be embarrassed to bring an Optimus Prime with you the next time you go out drinking. Once again, it’s time to transform and roll out!