Since 'weird' has no inherent positive or negative value, and it can be used in vague ways when you can't think of other better words to use instead, it becomes a little frustrating when I say that I tend to like weird things. What does it really mean to like weird things? After all, each person's idea of what constitutes weird is different, and things can be weird in different ways, too. So before this spirals further into philosophical musings on weirdness, I'd like to take a trip back to the early 90s, when I encountered the first weird thing I can remember loving, a live action TV show that led me to develop a lifelong passion for weird things. I figure if I can't precisely define my idea of weird and why I love weird things, I might as well start at the beginning.
Is this a still from a Wes Anderson movie or a kids show? You decide!
However, none of those is cool enough to have this in their opening title sequence
Earlier I said the show was influential on me, and that's been true throughout my life. During its initial run on TV, Pete & Pete presented such a different take on the world that its point of view and sense of humor began to rub off on me. It features surreal and absurdist ideas but they're never done in a cloying way or overemphasized to the point of insult. In fact the show has no self-awareness about any of its eccentricities, to the point that children's baseball teams called The Bacon Barn or Prosthetics can slip by you if you aren't paying attention. I think somehow this casual-ness about being weird helped me stop being so self conscious about how odd I was as a kid (and continue to be today). Pete & Pete tells the viewer “just be yourself” without needing a character to literally state this out loud. By not explaining any of its strange elements—Why did parents name both their sons Pete? What is the story with Artie? How did Little Pete get a tattoo when he's only a kid?—the show is implicitly telling you that you don't need to explain yourself, either.
Speaking of music...If I can say with certainty that Radiohead's OK Computer was the key formative discovery of my life that led me to become who I am today, then I can also say that Pete & Pete helped to prepare me for liking weird things. Which, in a way, led me to OK Computer. For that, I'll be forever thankful.
Until next time, my little vikings...