I can tell that I've finally arrived at summer in part because I'm now reading books and watching movies in great gulps. Many, if not most, are immediately work-related. But some--like the original Terminator--are just pop culture icons that I've never managed to see.
"You, a child of the 80's, never saw Terminator?" a younger friend of mine asked.
My explanation: I was only eight when it came out, and I have never been a fan of movies that I imagine will be frightening--which a film about the apocalypse and its time-traveling offshoots always seemed to me likely to be.
What I hadn't expected was the degree to which I'd experience the film as about a time period totally familiar and yet now totally alien to me. The moment when roommates Ginger (above left) and Sarah (above right, with her pet iguana) finish making themselves up (and, most notably, doing up their hair) for their big Friday night out and then stand grinning at themselves in their bathroom mirror is second only to the moment when Ginger, Sarah, and the iguana share this special moment in their living room. And those moments only barely trump Ginger's obsessive relationship with her portable cassette player. I acquired my first Walkman (the WM-10, which you can see here, on the far left of the third group picture; my father had the WM-F10, second from right in that same image) in 1984, the year Terminator came out. What I'd forgotten about is the shoulder strap that came with it--and it's the shoulder strap that truly makes Ginger's devotion to her player. And what I can see now that I wouldn't have been able to see in 1984 is the way James Cameron is leveling the same critique at Ginger and her cassette player that would be leveled at hordes of iPod-wearers twenty years on: sucked into her own audio world, Ginger is first hilariously and then horrifyingly disengaged from what's happening in the next room...