Don’t ask me why I was thinking about this at 1 am, because I’m not going to tell you that I was in my Superman t-shirt watching the series finale of The Golden Girls and how man, that was an epic finale for a TV series…oh wait.
Anyway, it got me thinking about something I’m thinking of as “pop culture memories”. We all remember incredibly personal or historically significant things around us. We remember first kisses or where we were when Kennedy was shot (in the case of my misbegotten and Drano-huffing generation, when the 9/11 attacks happened), stuff like that.
Do you remember the first time you realized that pop culture was going on around you? Because I have a distinct memory of the era when Cheers when off the air.
You know, the TV show that brought Kirstie Alley into the spotlight before she became a tabloid paper (and subsequent Internet) punching bag. I remember watching the finale of that show. I don’t even remember what happens in the finale, but I do remember seeing that final shot and the final line of the series;
“I’m sorry, we’re closed!”
It was a little bit intense, because I was left with a sense of something that I didn’t quite understand at the time ending and the impact it was having, radiating outwards from my TV onto the collective cultural memory.
I feel like it’s important to me, this memory, for a reason. Before that, everything media-related was infinite. I re-read all my books over and over again with them holding the same power to me (something I still do today), and TV series like all my favorite cartoons had, in my mind, continually existed.
See this face? This face ain’t goin’ anywhere, sweet-cheeks.
I mean that doesn’t make any sense obviously, but I mean I was a kid obsessed with ninjas, what the fuck did I know? It was my first sort of real experience with that kind of cultural milestone, because I remember my parents talking about its significance, and I remember the wrapup post-show special where the cast gathered and talked.
Love it or hate it, pop culture moments like the endings of great TV shows, or the impacts that movies and books have on larger scales do have a measure of impact on history. It’s not all useless vapid shit. I mean a lot of it is, but then again there are moments (which seem to be a lot of the time TV finales) that become these sort of touchstones of eras through culture.