It feels like an impossible task to sit down and write coherent words about Anton Yelchin’s sudden and tragic death in a freak, single-vehicle accident in Los Angeles. On hearing the news, my immediate thoughts were stuck in a numb refusal to accept the idea. “This has to be a hoax.” “He’s too young.” “He has too many movies coming out.” “But his career is just getting going.” As the news was confirmed, I started to look through his IMDb credits and realized that, with 65 roles under his belt by the age of 27, Yelchin was much further along that I realized.
Warning: Spoilers for the TV series, Fringe, are inevitable. Proceed with caution.
There has been no time in history when humans have not been trying to work out family issues through some form of artistic expression, culminating in an immense catalog of art forms devoted in one way or another to this topic. A quick mental scan through pop culture media will generate an extensive checklist of characters with complicated paternal relationships, including Thor, Tony Stark, Peter Quill, Franklin Richards, Damian Wayne, Tyrion Lannister, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Danny Torrance, Wilson Fisk, Michael Bluth, the Winchester brothers, Boromir and Farimir, Carl Grimes, Sherlock (in the Elementary version), Nemo (the Pixar clownfish, not the Jules Verne Captain), and on, and on. We’ve begun a tally that can almost not be completed, and we haven’t even started on the villains with “daddy issues.”
No, I am your father.
My father died when I was eight years old. He died six months after being diagnosed with a tumor in his brain, and it’s simple now to say that my whole world was changed. That was the same summer that The Lion King came out, and though I was too young to understand that it was based on one of the greatest works of drama that has ever been written, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the subject matter touched me deeply. I felt that Simba had it easy: Scar was responsible for killing Mufasa, and though he avoided his past for a long time, he was able to convert his grief into action against Scar and triumph. I wasn’t able to comprehend the breadth of what cancer was enough to turn my sadness and loss into energy against it; I had no scheming uncle to toss upon his own allies, so though I experienced a profound empathy with the character, I also found myself competing with his pain in a way. The scene that stayed with me was when Rafiki confronted Simba on facing his past and not running from it anymore. In this way Rafiki became my first Mystic (as an archetype). The following scene with Mufasa’s spirit brought me little solace and further distanced me from what I felt was a story not quite enough the same as mine.
When slackers rule the Earth: an adventure 30 years in the making.
There’s something magical that happens when you find all of your responsibilities absolved for a day: the joys of summer vacations spent fritting away time with no care; a canceled class replaced with a sunny day in a park; snow blanketing the world and burying work; school and transit in a gentle, yet firm, suggestion of “nope.” These are examples on a page, but nothing can convey that feeling save through art, and no film does it better than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
“Darwyn always made me feel like when he was talking to me, he was 100% focused on me.
It's because he was...he was like this with everyone. It was his superpower.
To live in that moment and give it his all.
His art was a physical version of this. It's why his art reached so many people.
He was speaking directly to you and giving you every bit of himself. I'm going to miss you, man.”
- Shannon Eric Denton (Writer/Artist, Spectrum, Fleshdigger)
I grew up a Star Trek fan. Star Wars wasn’t on my radar until I saw a Millennium Falcon toy at my friend’s house. I was intrigued, as it had none of the sleek lines and graceful architecture I saw in a Constitution or Galaxy-class vessel, but it didn’t stick. I then saw the movies, later on the USA network. I thought they were good, like nothing I had ever seen before, but it still didn’t stick. Then, my mom bought me Assault on Selonia, the second book in the Correllian Trilogy featuring the young Solo Children, Thrackan Sal-Solo, and Mara Jade, alongside all the film’s heroes. Leia had a lightsaber. This was a world that entranced and fascinated me, and since I had read the middle book, I, of course, went to find the first and third, and thus it stuck: I was a Star Wars fan.
My immediate family is made up of introverts and geeks, but somehow I never was fully exposed to Star Wars (or Star Trek for that matter) as a child. I occasionally saw bits and pieces at friends’ houses, but it never grabbed my young imagination. (Frankly, I was convinced it was a very long, very dull movie.) As I grew older, I simply dismissed the original trilogy as something "not for me: . . . until Star Wars: A New Hope was re-released in theaters in 1997.
Decades after the release of Ridley Scott’s legendary space horror film, Alien, the lone survivor of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (and her portrayal by the enormous talented actress Sigourney Weaver), continues to powerfully influence the depiction of women in the science fiction genre. Easily ranking as one of the most iconic and well-developed cinematic heroes of our time, Ripley’s endurance as a pop culture figure and feminist symbol stems from the grace and depth of the four ambitious films the character appeared in and continues to impact today’s genre heroines, be it on the silver screen, television, video games, or a multitude of other mediums.