Quality Aside, Buckle Up: This Is Going To Be An Unforgettable Weekend In The History of Pop Culture
With both Avengers: Endgame and The Battle of Winterfell hitting in the next few days, we are about to bare witness to the absolute zenith of modern pop culture.
As you might have heard, this weekend brings the release of two pretty major pieces of entertainment. Projects so massive and conversation dominating that to escape their reach seems nigh impossible — they more than anything represent the media we are digesting in the year 2019, and have the clout to command millions if not billions of people’s interest worldwide.
I am of course talking about the release of Sony Bend’s Days Gone, and season 2 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix! Ha ha ha woka woka very funny, Matthew.
…But no, this is serious.
Tonight brings us the launch of Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of 11 years of storytelling and 22 feature films, not to mention the payoff to one of modern cinema’s most buzzed about cliffhangers. It’s the kind of thing that really doesn’t need an explanation for why it’s a goddamn event (the box office estimates should be enough for that) but, hey, setting the scale and what not.
And speaking of things huge in scale: Game of Thrones will most likely be delivering its most buzzed about and, for some, perhaps most anticipated, episode ever on Sunday. The kind of episode that, if the hype delivers and the quality is strong, could end up being an all-time landmark in the history of the television format. To sum it up bluntly — it will very much be a pretty big deal.
The release of either of these two things alone would make for something of a notable time for the landscape of pop culture. But both at pretty much the same time? Well, I have no other way to phrase it: this is hands down going to be one of the most notable weekends of pop culture ever. And, like I imagine most of you, I couldn’t be more excited.
Of course the knowledge that these two would be releasing so close to each other isn’t exactly a new discovery: I’m sure you’ve already seen the memes hoping for the safety of all Starks this weekend (Tony included), and the jokey (?) comments about how much of an emotional wreck everyone is going to be come Monday. Yes, it seems likely that a lot of beloved franchise characters will be reaching their end this weekend, so better get numb to seeing the figures you’ve grown to love in the last decade bite it, all in a rather quick succession.
But separate from the content of both Avengers: Endgame and the Game of Thrones episode that will feature the much hyped Battle of Winterfell, I’m in the bag for another reason: to me, this weekend represents everything good about the film and TV medium, and pop culture in general. I know, I know — it’s just a movie, and just a TV show. And neither are “high” art, and are populist fare, and yadda yadda yadda pretentious whatever the fuck. But it doesn’t matter what they are: both Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones’ final season are capturing the public attention like very few things can, at least in a way that doesn’t fill me with despair and hopelessness. These two art forms are creating our shared language, and bringing us all together to bask in seeing these stories unfold and play out on a grand, elaborate scale. It’s why I love event film and event TV: the experience of watching something, and feeling like the world will never be quite the same after, is second to none.
In the lead up to Game of Thrones’ final season, there was a lot of talk about how the show’s conclusion represented the end of the “monoculture” for TV, and how after it ends, we will never have another show that “everyone” is watching. Personally, I disagree (people will always like and discuss similar, big things…that’s why it’s called “popular” culture), but the sentiment is interesting when framed for both Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Together, they have represented the dominant franchises of the past decade of entertainment. And they didn’t just become huge because they were good (although I would argue that’s the case for both): they became what they were because everybody wanted to be a part of the conversation. They wanted to bask in the event that was unfolding before everyone’s eyes. And the experience of being wrapped up in that excitement, and feeling like you are privy to an an entirely unique moment in history…that’s what I love about pop culture. That’s why I hold the weekend The Dark Knight came out as one of my most cherished memories. That’s why I attended San Diego Comic Con three times (somehow.) That’s why I created two stupid freaking blogs to talk about movies and TV and video games all the damn time. I love that feeling of being excited for shit, and basking in the experience once the anticipated thing finally arrives. And I don’t get to feel that just once in the next 72 hours. I get to feel it twice.
No matter how good Avengers: Endgame actually is, or how things end up going down as Game of Thrones reaches its conclusion, I will forever be happy to live in a world where they both existed. Warts and all, they have been exciting properties to witness unfold, not just as stories, but as bonefide pop culture phenomenons. And for one glorious weekend, both will crescendo in ways that, good or bad, will inevitably dominate the conversation for weeks if not months ahead. And as someone who spends way too much of their time reading and/writing commentary on the internet about silly movies and tv shows…that, more than anything else, is truly exciting.
Originally published at Freshly Popped Culture.