Newsletter 159: The Lost Art of a Shared Pop Cultural History

Will Leitch
5 min readFeb 28, 2020

I’ve decided to start putting some of the best newsletter essays here on Medium, so more people can read them. You’re still better off just subscribing. This one is from May 2019, about that long-gone time in history when everyone was experiencing the same thing at once.

When running down Milledge Avenue in Athens this week, I came across a woman wearing a “Save Ferris” T-shirt. It was just that basic T-shirt that you can get anywhere. Amazon can have it to your door by Sunday.

When I was a kid, we had five movies that my sister and I watched over and over. My parents bought blank VHS tapes and took them over to my Uncle Ron’s house, the only person we knew who had cable, so we would have some movies to watch that summer, a summer my parents knew they’d be working heavily and wouldn’t be home for us as often as they might have liked. (We lived out in the country, where cable wasn’t available. Ron’s patience for his brother-in-law and nephew coming over to watch Cardinals-Braves games on TBS was apparently infinite.) Ron spent a day recording the movies on HBO for us and then labeling them in black magic marker on a sticker outside of the VHS tape. You remember, like this:

And then we watched those same five movies over and over, basically for the next three months. My sister and I, to this day, can mostly recite these five movies by heart. They are:

  • Clue
  • The Golden Child
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Short Circuit
  • Superman II

For those three years, when we were home all summer and could no longer play outside in the sweltering Central Illinois heat and humidity, we watched those five movies, and only those five movies. Occasionally some neighborhood kids came by, but mostly it was just the two of us, trying not to fight with each other, in that house by ourselves, watching those same five…

Will Leitch

I write about these tumultuous times 2x a week. Author of five books, including “How Lucky.” NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin.