As an All-American boy growing up in the late 1970's and early 1980's, it was mandatory to like certain things. Of course bicycles, playing catch and pretending to be a soldier were all among the things that rallied for most of my time, but there were other things. Things that, above all else, had time spent on them nearly every day.
I'm talking about being a science-fiction hero.
There were plenty of television shows and movies during that time period that glorified being a space, computer world or adventure hero such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and one of my personal favorites, Tron. To this day, I still look up to Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges due to their roles as Tron and Flynn in that movie. It was a pulpy, outlandish view of what it would be like for a person to wage a war of sorts from inside a malicious computer program. The glowy, neon visuals for the movie have become iconic in today's culture and many forms of media have copied the look due to its apparent cult following.
The exciting thing for those of us thirtysomethings is that a new, up to date Tron movie is on the horizon: Tron Legacy. Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner return to reprise their roles as Tron and Flynn in Disney's new reboot to the critically acclaimed original from 1982. Details are very sketchy at this point, but the basic gist is that Flynn has two personalities, one inside the computer world (that he built after the events of the first movie) and one outside. Apparently, Flynn's son (played by Garrett Hedlund) goes on a mission to find his missing dad and somehow gets intertwined between the virtual world and the real one.
I'll leave the movie preview to the people who dabble in that, however. I'm here to tell you what it was like to be a young geek growing up wearing Tron shirts everywhere (as I did in the photo to the left), carry a frisbee around as if it were a real data-disc and ride my bicycle around the apartment complex like a madman in a light cycle.
Every day that I woke up during that time period was normally spent thinking of some way to get my buddies to play Tron, G.I. Joe, Transformers or Star Wars. Regularly, though, I was going it alone and terrorizing my fellow apartment denizens solo. The funny thing is, it didn't matter. I played out entire movies over the course of a day by myself sometimes. When my buddies WERE available, well, it was just that much better. "Jordan, you can be Flynn today, ok?" I'd tell one friend. "Joey, you're Sark. Sorry." I'd tell another. But no matter who played the part of which character from the movie, the same fact remained: we had a SHITLOAD of fun doing it, and got a lot of people to stare and smile as we did it.
We'd ride our bikes around the roughly half-mile long apartment complex for hours on end, pretending that we were in the blue, red or yellow light cycles, creating that iconic "wall" behind our vehicles to, hopefully, "crash" the other guy into. We'd fling frisbee discs at each other to recreate the epic life or death games from within the Tron computer world (losing several discs on top of the roofs of the apartments), attempting with all our hearts to actually block an incoming disc JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE! Woohoo! (Several smashed fingers throughout the course of our Tron fetish were generally the result).
We'd recite the entire movie from start to finish, with the exception of the parts for the female character, Yori, because we couldn't find a girl who wanted to have anything to do with playing a stupid boy game like Tron. Hours upon hours were spent getting the movie "right." I was sort of like the Martin Scorsese or James Cameron of our little acting troupe. If somebody got the line wrong, I'd stop the action and correct them. If we improvised on a part, I'd make sure that my internal vision for the "shot" was up to par. One way or another, our version of Tron was going to be epic. It was going to be art and, by God, it was going to impress people!
I miss those days. I miss being able to go outside dressed up like a loon, flailing around and reliving my favorite movies. I just don't think that the neighbors would appreciate a 34 year old man who is dressed up like a movie character, yelling to himself, playing with household items and making sound effects with his mouth.
Then again, they just might expect it...